Red Raiders Ready to Fight ATS in Elite 8 vs Villanova

Rainman M.

Saturday, March 24, 2018 5:37 PM UTC

Saturday, Mar. 24, 2018 5:37 PM UTC

Three-seeded Texas Tech plays the East Region’s top seed Villanova on Sunday (time?) in Boston. The Wildcats are favored by 6.5 to advance to the Final Four. Can Texas Tech put up a fight?

Texas Tech Red Raiders (27-9 SU, 16-17-1 ATS) vs Villanova Wildcats (33-4 SU, 24-12-1 ATS)

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Free NCAAB Pick: Texas Tech +6.5
Best Line Offered: at 5Dimes

If you were with me on West Virginia against Villanova, then you had a pretty maddening experience: the WVU cover was looking great, with a 60-54 lead with 11 minutes left in the game. But then Nova went on a run and the Neers couldn’t recover. Their downfall was to repeatedly miss from point-blank range and then allow a three on the other end. In achieving such a lead in the first place, though, WVU did reconfirm what bettors learned after Nova played St. Johns twice. With strong defensive pressure it is possible to interrupt Nova’s rhythm. Texas Tech is better equipped than WVU to challenge Nova and yet we get them at a better price.

An advantage that Texas Tech holds on defense is its length. Length is important in denying the opponent clear passing lanes through which scoring opportunities can be created. The Red Raiders rank 63rd in height and use their length to create opportunities for themselves on offense. They excel at creating turnovers and stealing the ball, ranking in the top 40 in both categories. They also have a number of quality shot-blockers who they can rotate in. Texas Tech ranks 26th in block percentage. Coach Chris Beard has, throughout his career, been rather disinclined to run. But this year he has initiated a renaissance in transition offense that can become apparent in this match-up. Nova ranks 119th in percentage of blocks allowed and will also miss a lot of shots against TT’s solid half-court defense.

Whereas the Wildcats were able to pass the ball and convert many open threes against WVU’s bottom-ranked three-point and half-court defense, Texas Tech presents a different, more organized beast. The Raiders are strong against the three, ranking 50th in opposing three-point percentage, and have a strong half-court defense overall, ranking 45th in opposing proportion of opposing assists. They have earned a strong track record in shutting down opposing perimeter attacks such as at Kansas and in two games against TCU’s top-ranked three-point shooting team, in which TCU didn’t muster more than six threes. On Saturday, Purdue’s top-ranked offense only managed seven threes in one of its lowest scoring outputs all season. The Raiders’ defense is elite, ranking third in KenPom efficiency.

Trust point guard Keenan Evans to lead TT in transition with his ability to drive the ball strongly to the basket and draw a foul, finish at the rim, or make another solid decision and pass the ball to a more open shooter. Nova’s defense is liable to be carved. Its half-court defense ranks 213rd, meaning that it surrenders a lot of assists. Evans ranks 248th in assist rate, 16th in drawing fouls and 349th in two-point percentage and will be comfortable both distributing and scoring. Evans is a senior gamer and will give TT at least a fighting chance. Forward Zhaire Smith ranks in the top 300 in two-point percentage and, like Evans, can help own Nova, which ranks 131st in opposing two-point percentage, inside. TT also ranks 45th in offensive rebounding percentage and can achieve many put-backs.

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When the Red Raiders get hot, they tend to stay hot. They 3-0 ATS after covering two in a row and can make it 4-0 in our NCAAB Picks.

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