Outstanding Guard Play Makes Miami The NCAA Tournament Pick vs. Villanova

Doug Upstone

Tuesday, March 22, 2016 12:43 PM UTC

Tuesday, Mar. 22, 2016 12:43 PM UTC

In the lower part of the South Region bracket for the NCAA Tournament, it has according to form with No.2 Villanova facing off against No.3 Miami-Fl, for the right to reach the Elite Eight.

Villanova has run roughshod through the bracket thus far, smoking UNC-Asheville by 30 as 17.5-point chalk and Iowa as six-point favorites. Miami's path has been a little more arduous, having to hold off the MAC champions Buffalo 79-72 as 14-point favorites and withstand a furious rally by Wichita State, but coming up big in the last few minutes to defeat the Shockers 65-57 as 1.5-point underdogs.

This is the first game of the night on Thursday with a 7:10 Eastern start on CBS, with Villanova a four-point favorite and total of 140.5 according to the NCAA basketball odds boards.


The Betting Numbers

SU and ATS Records - 31-5, 17-17-1 ATS
Neutral Site Record - 6-2 and 4-4 ATS
Favorite Record - 24-6 and 15-15 ATS
Off a SU Win - 25-5 SU and 13-16-1 ATS


SU and ATS Record - 27-7, 19-14 ATS
Neutral Site Record - 7-1 and 5-3 ATS
Underdog Record- 3-3 and 3-3 ATS
Off a SU Win - 20-6 SU and 17-9 ATS


The Game Scoop
On paper, it did not look possible the Miami guards could outplay Fred Van Vleet and Ron Baker of Wichita State, but they did. Angel Rodriguez and Sheldon McClellan outplayed their counterparts on the scoreboard 46-23 and made all the big shots at the right time.

They will have an even tougher task taking on the crew from Villanova who has been in a better offensive flow and has better teammates to rely on. Besides Rodriguez and McClellan, coach Jim Larranga will need help from sixth man Ja'Quan Newton and have him meet or exceed his 10.8 points a game. It will also be imperative Kamari Murphy and Tonye Jekiri have strong defense games along with making contributions in scoring and controlling the boards.

If there in one constant about Villanova basketball under coach Jay Wright, the teams are guard-oriented, almost always with experience and plays with a toughness which often outweighs its overall talent. Led by junior Josh Hart and senior Ryan Arcidiacono, the Wildcats move the ball around on offensive end, continually seeking the open shooter, which is why they average nine three-pointers a game.

Nova also has other sharp shooters like forward Kris Jenkins and freshman Jalen Brunson can relieve Arcidiacono from point guard duties and free him up to help elsewhere.

Villanova is an undersized team, which relies on ball movement and shooting accuracy. Collectively on defense, they hold opposing teams to 40.1 percent by keeping them in front of them and funneling them back towards the middle where there is more help.

Both teams average about 11 turnovers a game, but Villanova forces two more a game than Miami and both teams are excellent in converting miscues into points. Sets up as quite a matchup.

Sagarin Spread - Villanova -3.47


Spread Winner and Totals Lean
In all of Villanova's losses this season, they came against teams with good to excellent guards with a foe who had long-armed defenders and above average quickness. This describes Miami in a nutshell.

The Hurricanes will pick their spots to run and while not a great rebounding team, they are better than Villanova and will have chances to convert.

The most important aspect of this contest will be the Hurricanes defense against Nova's first shot attempt in every possession. Because Villanova does not rebound that well, if Miami can limit scoring on initial attempt, they could take the Cats out of what they do best.

For NCAA basketball picks, not calling for Miami upset, but they crawl under the total in a game that goes Over the total.

Doug's Record: 7-5-1 sides and 7-6 totals.

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Free NCAA Basketball Pick: Miami +4
Best Line Offered: at Pinnacle

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