NCAA Tournament Picks: Milwaukee vs. Villanova

David Lawrence

Monday, March 17, 2014 7:17 PM UTC

Monday, Mar. 17, 2014 7:17 PM UTC

The University of Wisconsin at Milwaukee did not play well throughout the course of the full college basketball season but it played well in the games that mattered. They rose to the occasion to beat the University of Wisconsin at Green Bay, the best team in the Horizon League. Milwaukee won its conference tournament to get into the main event. Now, the Panthers will get to test themselves against Villanova for our NCAA Tournament picks.

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The Panthers can win because…

The Villanova Wildcats are a mystery right now. This team did beat Kansas and Iowa in the non-conference part of the regular season, but that was three months ago and then some. Iowa has also fallen off the pace, so it's not as though that win is still as impressive as it once was. As for the win over Kansas, the Jayhawks were still figuring out how to play with a young and new lineup following the loss of multiple players to the pros in 2013. Villanova did not play in a very deep Big East Conference, and it lost twice by a very large margin to the other highly-seeded NCAA tournament team in the conference, the Creighton Bluejays. Villanova will be questioned a lot by experts, even though its computer numbers are really good. 

In addition to all the questions that have surrounded Villanova on a general level, the Wildcats then got upset in the quarterfinals of the Big East Tournament by Seton Hall, a team that wasn't very good. Villanova likes to shoot the three, but its shots just didn't drop against Seton Hall. One more cold shooting game could send Villanova packing in a hurry.

The other thing to keep in mind is that Milwaukee has nothing to lose. The Panthers are not just a confident team that's gotten hot at the right time. For all of this team's weaknesses, it's important to note that it beat Green Bay - the class of the Horizon League - twice and not just once. Milwaukee can play. Villanova must be on guard or they’ll do more than just fail to cover the NCAA basketball odds.

The Wildcats can win because:

They are a lot better and will very likely be able to overpower Milwaukee near the basket. When you get into a game between a No. 15 seed and a No. 2 seed as is the case here, the main difference between those two kinds of teams is usually that the two seed has bigger, more powerful frontcourt players. This is the case with Villanova. The Wildcats might like to shoot the three on a general level, and they will certainly take their share of shots if they're open, but the Big East's regular season champion will be able to dump the ball into the post and also crash the offensive boards if it does miss a lot of three pointers. Milwaukee doesn't have the size or the depth to stay with Villanova over the long haul if the Wildcats are reasonably patient on offense and take shots when their big men are in position to get offensive rebounds. Milwaukee will have to play perfect offensive game in order to win. After coming up short against Seton Hall, Villanova should be ready to play with great energy on defense. The Wildcats should find solutions here, so take them with your NCAA basketball picks.

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Outlook & Pick

The Wildcats might not put all the pieces together, but they'll put together enough of them to win without too much drama. A 17-point spread does feel like too much, however.

NCAA Tournament Pick: Milwaukee +17

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