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March Madness Betting – Villanova’s Task: Beat West Virginia Pressure in Sweet 16 Showdown

Well, there is no doubt about the fact that the Villanova Wildcats like to play fast. And the West Virginia Mountaineers like to force teams that play fast into turnovers. So we already know it’s going to be a pretty good matchup as these two teams get together in Sweet 16 action at the TD Garden in Boston for a chance to go to the Elite Eight. Game time on Friday is 7:27 PM ET, and if you are a BetAnySports customer, you can place wagers even after the game has started, taking advantage of what is available through Live Betting Ultra.

March Madness Betting – Villanova vs West Virginia in the Sweet 16:

In the March Madness betting odds posted on this game by the folks at BetAnySports, Villanova is favored:

Villanova Wildcats -5
West Virginia Mountaineers +5
Over 152.5 points -110
Under 152.5 points -110

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For West Virginia, it was kind of easy against in-state “non-rival” Marshall in the Round of 32, as they forced 18 turnovers out of a team coached by Dan D’Antoni, brother of Mike D’Antoni of the Houston Rockets. And they made Marshall’s star scorer, Jon Elmore, very uncomfortable. However, the taken a big step up against Villanova, which has spent quite a bit of time this season as the #1 team in the nation, and will have perhaps the best player in the country handling the ball much of the time. Jalen Brunson is a consensus All-American, and he leads a group that does a great job taking care of the basketball.

Villanova turned the ball over on only 14.7% of its possessions, and that is 11th best in the country. And when they get the ball into their opponent’s end of the floor, they are perhaps the best shooting team in all of college basketball. Villanova’s Effective Field Goal Percentage is 59.8%, which is #1, as he is their Adjusted Offensive Efficiency. So it’s no coincidence that they are also the highest-scoring team in the country.

Can West Virginia, also known as “Press Virginia,” do something to disrupt what Villanova wants to do on offense? That is just one of the factors that makes this so intriguing.

West Virginia puts the pressure on; there is no doubt about that. They are second-best in forcing their opponents to turn the ball over, on a per-possession basis. And the guy who runs the show as far as defense is concerned is Jevon Carter, another All-American, who should be a great match with Brunson. Carter has also scored 49 points in West Virginia’s two games thus far in the NCAA Tournament.

The thing about Jay Wright’s Villanova squad is that they also played defense at a very high level. And that is how they made life difficult for Collin Sexton as they played Alabama in the second round. The Crimson Tide averaged only 0.88 points per possession, and so it was no contest. If there is perhaps one thing that the Wildcats don’t do all that well, it is defend from two-point range, where they are somewhat middle-of-the-road (ranked 136th), but scoring inside the arc isn’t necessarily West Virginia’s strength either.

Getting second-chance opportunities is, though, and as a huge challenge for Villanova, which isn’t necessarily a big team.

But their accuracy from beyond the arc (40.2%) matches up pretty well, as far as what they want to do, with the Mountaineers, who have allowed 37.5%, which is 300th in the country.

And Villanova can put three players out there most of the time who can hit at least 42% from three-point territory. They don’t have a real deep team, or at least they don’t use a lot of members of the rotation, so you know they are well-conditioned to play a pretty fast pace. West Virginia has not necessarily been the most consistent team in the world, so we know that Villanova is the squad more likely to come out and be on its game. Given that probability, this number is rather reasonable.

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By Charles Jay