Pick Bama to Hang Tough Against the East Region's Top-Seeded Nova

Rainman M.

Friday, March 16, 2018 5:24 PM UTC

Friday, Mar. 16, 2018 5:24 PM UTC

Top-seeded Villanova will battle nine-seeded Alabama Saturday at noon ET in Pittsburgh for a spot in the Sweet 16. The Wildcats are favored by (KenPom projection of 12).

Alabama Crimson Tide vs Villanova WildcatsEast Region, Saturday, 12:10 PM ETFree NCAAB Pick: Alabama +11Best Line Offered: Heritage

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Villanova looked at 16-seeded Radford like it was ready to cut down the nets. The Wildcats were able to play their game and go 14-for-27 from three en route to an 87-61 blowout. Nova averages the 16th-highest proportion of three-pointers attempted and relies on the 16th-highest point distribution from three.

Alabama, with its 18th-ranked defense per KenPom efficiency, won't allow Nova to be so comfortable on offense. The Tide excel at defending the perimeter and are helped herein with their length. They rank 30th in opposing three-point percentage and 28th in height. A major aspect of their victory over Virginia Tech was eventually slowing down the Hokies from three, who started 7-for-9 from three but finished 9-for-18. The Tide are well-versed in shutting down strong offenses who emphasize three-point shooting. They shut down Florida on the road and Auburn both on neutral territory and at home. Both teams, like Nova, rank in the top 100 in both three-point percentage and proportion of threes attempted. In two of those three wins, the Tide held their opponent to under 65 points and under 30% three-point shooting. The Tide's success against Nova's three-point attack will be significant from a betting standpoint. In four of Villanova's last five non-covers, it converted less than 30% from three.

Unlike Virginia Tech, Nova will oblige Alabama's proclivity on defense to slow the game down. The Wildcats like to play with a deliberate tempo, ranking 221st in an average length of possession on offense. They rely on making crisp passes, executing a team-oriented offense in the half-court in order to be more ball-secure and select a smart shot. Alabama's defense is prepared for this kind of deliberation, boasting the 65th-best half-court defense as measured by proportion of opposing assists per field goals allowed.

When Nova tries to rely on inside scoring, it will struggle against Bama's stout interior defense that ranks 62nd in opposing two-point percentage. Big man Donta Hall was healthy enough to play against Nova. He is a strong shot blocker, ranking 35th in block percentage. Hall, forward Herb Jones, who ranks 367th in the category, and Bama's depth of shot blockers, contribute to Bama ranking 14th as a team in block percentage. Alabama has more length and size down low and will challenge Nova's interior presence.

Bama will do the same on offense. Hall was 5-for-5 from two in his return against V Tech. He ranks second in two-point percentage and Bama ranks 47th as a team in the category. Nova's defensive weakness is in the interior, where it allows the 41st-highest distribution of points. Bama is equipped with big men like Hall. Its main weapon is point guard Collin Sexton, who has achieved over 20 points in five consecutive games. He is dangerous both behind and inside the arc and as a distributor, ranking 120th in assist rate.

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Nova's worst performances have come against stingy, defensive-minded teams whose focus is scoring inside--teams like Seton Hall, Providence and St. Johns, lower-ranked teams against which Nova lost or nearly lost to SU. Bama is the kind of team prepared to challenge Nova on our NCAAB Picks.

Check out SBR’s college basketball odds page for updated lines. Also, head over to the March Madness Betting Headquarters for vital handicapping information, picks, and a list of the best sports books and live betting options for the tournament season.

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