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Villanova vs. Baylor NCAA Tournament Sweet 16 Picks

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Villanova vs. Baylor NCAA Tournament Sweet 16 Picks
Jermaine Samuels #23 of the Villanova Wildcats goes up for a shot against the North Texas Mean Green. Sarah Stier/Getty Images/AFP

As usual, the No. 5 Villanova Wildcats look like a bargain pick for Saturday’s Sweet 16 matchup with the No. 1 Baylor Bears. Who gets the nod to advance? Read on for an in-depth analysis of the matchup between Baylor and Villanova and a pick courtesy of SBR.

Villanova Wildcats vs. Baylor Bears

Saturday, March 27, 2021 – 05:15 PM EDT at Hinkle Fieldhouse

If it’s March Madness – and yes, yes it is – the Villanova Wildcats (18-6 SU, 13-10-1 ATS) must be making money. Jay Wright has already led this program to two unexpected NCAA Division I men’s basketball titles, in 2016 and 2018, and Wright once again has the No. 5 Wildcats pointed in the right direction.

They’ve won back-to-back games SU and ATS at the Big Dance; if the pattern holds, they’ll be a tasty pick this Saturday when they face the No. 1 Baylor Bears (24-2 SU, 16-10 ATS) at Hinkle Fieldhouse. Let’s find out.

Villanova just opened as 6.5-point underdogs at as we go to press. Baylor could be vulnerable here as a puffed-up 1-seed; they’ve split their two March Madness wins ATS, after going 1-1 SU and 0-2 ATS in a disappointing Big 12 Tournament. Perhaps a certain Mr. Ken Pomeroy can help us figure out if the betting public is overloaded for Bear.

Cat People

Pomeroy’s advanced stats are the sports betting gift that keeps on giving. Here’s how he rates both of Saturday’s participants: Villanova: No. 11 overall (No. 6 offense, No. 71 defense), plus-23.58 margin Baylor: No. 2 overall (No. 3 offense, No. 35 defense), plus-30.18 margin

Delightful. According to Pomeroy’s efficiency margins, the Bears are 6.6 points per 100 possessions better than Villanova. This is college basketball betting, not the NBA, so they’re not getting anywhere near 100 possessions in this matchup without several overtimes; it should be somewhere between 64-69 possessions, given the tempo each club operates at – the ‘Cats being one of the slowest teams in Division I.

Do the math, and you get something like Baylor –4.5 for a projection. That’s worth a relatively chunky bet on the underdogs.

Book of Jeremiah

It’s always nice to have a second opinion when we make our college basketball picks. Since this is March Madness, our fine friends at FiveThirtyEight have weighed in with their own projections; they have Baylor winning this game 76 percent of the time, which works out to a “fair” moneyline (no "vig" included) of –317 according to the indefatigable SBR Odds Converter.

has Baylor at –298 ("vig" included) as we go to press. M’eh? All right, so we don’t have unanimous agreement on Villanova’s betting value. This could be related to the absence of senior guard Collin Gillespie (plus-7.5 BPM), who tore up his left knee on March 3 and didn’t make it to the Big Dance.

However, the ‘Cats have several other talented players on their roster, including sophomore forward Jeremiah Robinson-Earl (plus-7.4 BPM), who has been on fire since Gillespie went down. We’re still happy to buy low on ‘Nova, but maybe it’ll be a good idea to downsize that bet a little to reflect Nate Silver’s less-than-enthusiastic projections. Everything in moderation.

Free NCAAB Pick: (visit our Sportsbook Review)

*The pick reflects the line at the moment the writer made the play, the odds at the beginning of this article show the live line movement. Since the lines might vary, don’t forget to refer back to our live odds.