Oklahoma vs. Villanova: Defensive Game Locks 'Under' as the NCAA Basketball Pick

Willie Bee

Monday, December 7, 2015 1:14 PM UTC

Monday, Dec. 7, 2015 1:14 PM UTC

Join us for a preview and free college basketball pick in the Oklahoma-Villanova matchup out in Hawaii, a game that should have a March Madness feel to it.

What's this? An Elite Eight caliber matchup on a Monday night in December? Okay, it's too early to start thinking about that, but tonight's opening tip at the Pearl Harbor Invitational is definitely a game that college basketball bettors and fans should be paying attention to.

The top 10 clash pits the Oklahoma Sooners vs. Villanova Wildcats at Bloch Arena where FOX Sports 1 begins its broadcast at 7 PM (ET).  Pomeroy has the Wildcats No. 1 and Oklahoma ninth. The tourney is honoring the 74th anniversary of the attack on Pearl Harbor, and features a follow-up contest between the Navy Midshipmen and Oregon Ducks.

Oklahoma comes in ranked 6/8 with Villanova in the 8/7 slots of the two mainstream polls. The opening salvo on the NCAA basketball odds board has stuck so far with the Wildcats giving up 3½. BetOnline is maintaining its initial 143 point total for the matchup.

It just so happens these two schools have met in the Elite Eight round of an NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament, that collision coming in the Southeast Regional of the 1988 dance. Oklahoma won that meeting, 78-59, before going on to lose to Kansas in the Finals. Villanova has won and covered the two regular season tilts since then during the 2005-06 and 2006-07 seasons, the total splitting in those battles.


Sooners & 'Cats Among Defensive Leaders
Statistically, it might be tougher to find a better game on the schedule so far this season.  Oklahoma (5-0 straight up, 3-0 against the spread) ranks sixth in the nation scoring 88.2 points per game, that tally up over 90 in the Sooner's last three contests. That really shouldn't be much of a surprise considering OU returned four starters from last year's squad, led by senior Buddy Hield whose 21.4 PPG mark is 19th in the country.

The Sooners are also playing well on the defensive end of the floor where they are tops in the land holding opponents to just 32.6% from the field, not allowing any foe so far to connect on better than 37.7%. A 25.6 point gap on the scoreboard each night is why they're perfect against the college basketball odds.

Villanova (7-0 SU, 5-1 ATS) is just behind Oklahoma in those defensive columns, winning each of its games by a 22.9 point margin while limiting the opposition to a 34.5% field goal mark (3rd). The Wildcats are scoring 79.0 PPG and rank fifth in the country turning it over just 9.1 times per game.


Oklahoma To Return To Hawaii In 2 Weeks
The biggest difference between the clubs up to now can be found in the Ratings Percentage Index where Villanova sits fourth and Oklahoma way down at 91st. The two extra games played by the Wildcats figure greatly into that.

This is the first of two trips to Hawaii for the Sooners who will meet up with Washington State in the opening round of the Diamond Head Classic on December 22. Lon Kruger's crew tuned up for this trip with a 111-68 romp past Central Arkansas in Norman this past Thursday. Kruger emptied his bench for that one, seven Sooners scoring in double figures led by Jordan Woodard's 24, the junior guard sinking 6-of-7 three pointers.

It's  been almost a week since 'Nova was on the floor, opening Big 5 play with an 86-72 win and cover in Saint Joseph's gym. Jay Wright's troops sank half of their 62 field goals, with half of those attempts coming from beyond the arc.

I like Oklahoma's experience overall, which tempts me to take the points and the Sooners on Monday. But I believe the defenses win out in the end which is why my free NCAA basketball pick will be on the final saying below the total.

NCAA Basketball Pick: Under 146 at BetOnLine

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