The Villanova Wildcats are ahead of schedule. The North Carolina Tar Heels are behind schedule, but catching up. The two teams meet in a fascinating 8-9 game in the NCAA’s.
Basketball Betting – Villanova vs. North Carolina Picks
Villanova can win because…
It is an overachieving team going up
against an opponent that can shoot itself out of games. First, the Villanova
side. The Wildcats were not expected to be an NCAA tournament team this season.
The Wildcats looked horrible at times in November and December. They did not
have a full boat of talent and had been losing skilled players over the past
two years. Villanova had been undergoing a steady downturn over the past three
seasons. The Wildcats, who went to the Final Four in 2009, got knocked out in
the round of 32 in 2010 and the round of 64 in 2011. They didn't even make the
NCAAs last year, and many people wondered if head coach Jay Wright had met the
end of the line in Philadelphia. However, just when all hope seemed lost, this
team rallied in 2013. Villanova was able to win each big home game on its
slate, beating Syracuse and Louisville in the same week and later knocking off
both Marquette and Georgetown. Those four wins got Villanova into the NCAA
field. An overachiever is a team to respect at tournament time. The Wildcats
are going to feel that they have nothing to lose in this contest, and that's
the actual fact of the matter as well.
The other thing to realize about
this game is that North Carolina can get drunk on the three-point shot. The Tar
Heels were a powerful low-post team last year, but the NBA claimed their
foremost interior performers. This season's team is younger and more
perimeter-based, and if it can't get to the rim via dribble penetration, it
often settles for the deep shot, chucking up 25-footers instead of running a
structured halfcourt set. This is the kind of team that can be one-and-done in
the NCAAs without much of a thought.
North Carolina can win because…
The Tar Heels have been steadily
gaining momentum and confidence in the latter half of the season. North
Carolina reeled off seven straight wins in the Atlantic Coast Conference,
finishing with a 12-6 record in the league after muddling through January as a
team that was in danger of falling to the NIT. North Carolina head coach Roy
Williams switched to a small-ball lineup, using quickness and shooting to
overcome his team's lack of size and strength. The change worked, and freshman
point guard Marcus Paige - who has been hitting big shots for this team in
recent weeks, including Saturday's ACC semifinal win over Maryland - has
matured a great deal in a short period of time. North Carolina's players are
fitting into their roles and are acquiring more comfort on the court. On Sunday
in a competitive ACC Tournament loss to Miami, P.J. Hairston scored 28 points
on 6-of-13 shooting from three-point range, an impressive display that should
only make him more confident heading into this contest.
The other thing to note about this
game is that Villanova's four big wins, mentioned above, all came at home.
Villanova has beaten only one NCAA tournament-level team on the road this
season, the Connecticut Huskies. UConn was ineligible for the tournament, but
it would have gotten in if it had been eligible. Villanova needs to show it can
beat another good team away from home in Philadelphia, which is why it’s hard
to take them with our NCAA basketball picks.
Outlook & College Basketball Betting Prediction:
This is a coin-flip game as the NCAA
basketball odds makers have indicated. North Carolina could shoot its way out
of the tournament and come up empty, but Villanova is weak against good teams
away from home. The steadiness of North Carolina's progress over the past three
weeks is what moves the needle to the Tar Heels' side for our sports picks.
College Basketball Pick: UNC
-3.5 at Bet365