Pennsylvania (2-4) at #14 Villanova (7-0)
Battle 4 Atlantis Champions
The Villanova Wildcats are back and here to stay as they took down Kansas and freshman sensation Andrew Wiggins and also came back from a 12 point deficit in the Battle 4 Atlantis Championship game with 11 minutes to go to steal the crown away from Iowa.
Now, the Wildcats get to relax a bit as they face a Penn Quakers team which is grossly overmatched. That makes this NCAA basketball pick pretty easy. This game comes down to “how much will Villanova win by?”
Players To Watch
Forward, JayVaughn Pinkston, has had a very solid season in the first 7 games of his junior year, but has played quite well at the Pavilion, a place where Villanova has won 8 straight games at home going back to last year. Pinkston is averaging 20.3 point per game on 56.3% from the field on his home court. That said, Pinkston is averaging just 13 points in his last 3 games. We might see more of the same from Pinkston as his playing time could be cut short in a game that could be over early.
The Wildcats will also look to senior James Bell for production. At 17 points and 6.3 rebounds per contest, the senior has been looking sharp as he’s coming off of a 20 point game in the finals of the Battle 4 Atlantis.
From a Quaker perspective, Tony Hicks is the go to guy. In his last two games, Hicks is averaging 24.5 points per contest thanks to a 33 point outburst against Niagra on November 26th. Look for Hicks to have a good game as sophomore Darien Nelson- Henry provides a presence in the middle at 6 foot `11 with his ability to rebound and score.
18 points are a lot of points for Villanova to lay, but they’ll be flying high at home after winning the Battle 4 Atlantis and the crowd will be a factor.
Pick- Villanova -18 at Bet 365
North Carolina (4-2) at #1 Michigan State (7-0)
Coach vs. Coach?
The dominance of Roy Williams over Tom Izzo is widely known as Williams and the Heels have taken down Izzo coached teams 6 consecutive times, including a championship and two Final Fours. This game could be the end of the Williams’ streak in the ACC/Big Ten Challenge as Michigan State is at home, contain a great amount of experience and talent, and are already battle-tested by beating a team of the caliber of Kentucky. The Spartans are a heavy 9 point favorite and the spread is exactly where it should be.
Experience plays a major role as 2 of Michigan State’s top 3 scorers are seniors in Keith Appling (16.9 ppg., 5.6 apg, 3 rpg.) and Adreian Payne (15.9 ppg., 7.7 rpg.). Efficiency is the name of Appling’s game as he’s considered the leader of the team. He’s 16 for his last 23 shooting-wise while averaging 22 points in his last two games. Pressure is no issue for Appling as his best performance of the year was a near triple-double against Kentucky. Expect him to have a big game in front of the home town fans.
Michigan State is coming off of an easy 33 point victory over Mount St. Mary’s in which they shot an impressive 63.1 % from the field and 50% from 3-point range. Expect the Spartans to come out fast against the Tarheels tonight.
Time To Shine?
Just off of reputation alone as a university, the North Carolina Tarheels are a team that can’t be taken too lightly. That said, the Heels are coming off of a very uninspiring loss to an inferior opponent in the UAB Blazers, 63-59. North Carolina was playing “catch up” for the entire game and James Michael McAdoo had a disastrous game, shooting 3 of 13 from the field while producing a mere 6 points
North Carolina will look for a bounce back performance with Marcus Paige leading the way. Paige had a poor game against UAB, but averaged 29 points in his two games previous to the loss. Paige is averaging over 20 points per game this season and is a deadly shooter.
Ignore the Streak
This is Michigan State’s year and after the game that the Tarheels played against UAB, you have no reason to have confidence in them.
Pick- Michigan State -9 at Bet 365