The Villanova Wildcats were named the No. 2 overall seed in the NCAA tournament. They begin their pursuit of the Final Four with a game against the Lafayette Leopards and are massive favorites on the college basketball betting lines.
The Lafayette Leopards Can Win Because…
Their team was better than other Patriot League teams all season long. The Leopards might have been the number four seed in the Patriot League tournament, but they had the most wins of any team in the league. They were the only team in the league to reach 20 wins through the conference tournament portion of the season. What Lafayette was also able to do is that it was able to beat the regular season champion of the conference, the Bucknell Bison, on their home floor, since the Patriot League tournament puts every game in the gymnasium of the higher-seeded team. When you can win a road game in a conference tournament against a conference champion, you’re a team with toughness, a team that can evidently play well under pressure.
The Leopards’ best strength is that they are eighth in the country in field goal percentage, making 48.8 percent of all their shots. Lafayette runs a very efficient offense. If you saw the Leopards’ victory over American University in the Patriot League tournament championship game, you would have noticed that Lafayette is willing to use every second on the shot clock. The Leopards keep moving the ball for a better passing angle, and in the final three to five seconds of the shot clock, their willingness to keep moving generates a cut to the basket with the defense overextended and out of position. That kind of offensive patience could fluster a top seed such as Villanova and give Lafayette a chance to win a slow-paced game with a minimal amount of possessions. The smaller the number of possessions, the better for the Leopards. They are also 17th in the nation in assists per game with 15.6. This team shares the ball and therefore has a very tough offense to deal with. Lafayette is also in the top 35 in points scored per game. This offense will put up a fight.
The Villanova Wildcats Can Win Because…
They are a better and deeper team, currently listed as double digit favorites on the NCAA Basketball odds. The Wildcats have Darrun Hilliard and Ryan Arcidiacono in their starting backcourt, which is plenty good enough for many college basketball rosters. Those two guards could form a strong backcourt for any team and get a lot of wins no matter which conference they played in. However, Villanova can also bring Jason Hart off the bench for 10.4 points a game. They also have Dylan Ennis as yet another productive guard who can enable the Wildcats to continue to bother people with their quickness and versatility. Ennis averages 9.8 points per game, and he’s either a third or fourth option on the team. Villanova ranks higher than Lafayette in assists (13th in the nation) and also in points per game (in the top 25 in the nation, whereas Lafayette is number 34). Given that the Wildcats play in a tougher conference, the Big East, those ratings mean a lot more than any of Lafayette’s ratings.
Lafayette could put up a fight for 20 minutes – maybe even 25 – but Villanova is so much longer on the court and deeper in terms of its bench. Expect them to advance to the Second round to race the winner of LSU vs. NC State. Those advantages will enable the Wildcats to pull away in the second half and cover the college basketball betting spread as NCAA Basketball pick.
NCAA Basketball Pick: Villanova -22.5 at Bodog