#5 Villanova vs. #1 Baylor

#5 Villanova vs. #1 Baylor | 2021 NCAA Basketball Expert Analysis

Fifth-seeded Villanova was a popular pick to be upset in Round 1 of the 2021 NCAA Tournament, but here the Wildcats are in Saturday’s Sweet 16 action against South Region No. 1 seed Baylor, which is a solid favorite on the NCAAB odds.

How to Bet Villanova vs. Baylor NCAA Basketball Odds & TV InfoLast Meeting

The lone meeting between the schools was early in the 2019-20 season when Baylor was ranked No. 24 in the country and Villanova No. 17 and the Bears won 87-78 at a Thanksgiving neutral-site event. Baylor broke open a tight, tense game with nine ties and 18 lead changes by scoring on its final 12 possessions and holding the Wildcats without a field goal during the final 2 1/2 minutes. Baylor shot 53% while Villanova was at 52%. The difference came at the 3-point line late: The Bears were 6 of 9 from long range in the second half while the Wildcats were just 2 of 11.

Why Bet on Villanova? | 2021 NCAA Basketball Expert Analysis

Villanova (18-6) beat No. 12 Winthrop by 10 in Round 1 and then blew out No. 13 North Texas 84-61 in the Round of 32.  For the seventh time in the last 20 seasons, Villanova is headed to the NCAA Tournament Sweet 16. The Wildcats fell behind by eight points but then used a 24-4 spurt late in the first half to take control of the game played vs. North Texas. Eight different Wildcats sank at least one 3-pointer, a first in NCAA Tournament history, on their way to a 15-of-30 effort from beyond the arc. Villanova also committed just six turnovers.

The Wildcats seemed dead in the water when star guard Collin Gillespie suffered a torn MCL a little more than a week before Selection Sunday. They lost their first two full games without him (Providence, Georgetown). But they scored at a rate of 112 points per 100 possessions in the first round against Winthrop and recorded a clip of 142 points per 100 possessions against North Texas in the second round.

Jeremiah Robinson-Earl (averaging 20.0 PPG, 8.5 RPG, 6.0 APG) & Co. have regained the stride that made them the Big East’s most efficient offense.

Defensively, Villanova is playing some of its best basketball of the season. Over their last eight games, the Wildcats have held opponents to a 39.6% mark from the floor and a 29.9% mark from 3-point-land.

As for Baylor? “We played them last year in Myrtle Beach,” said Jay Wright of the November 2019 meeting. “They have all the same guys and we don’t. One of our guys is in the NBA and a couple of others, Collin Gillespie and Dhamir Cosby-Roundtree, are hurt. And they beat us with them. They’re a great team but we’re looking forward to getting a few more days of practice in to try to get better.”

Why Bet on Baylor? | 2021 NCAA Basketball Expert Analysis

The Bears (24-2) beat No. 16 Hartford by 24 in Round 1 and then No. 9 Wisconsin by 13 in Round 2 as the Bears excelled against a Badgers team that was top 20 in adjusted defensive efficiency. Baylor’s 119 points per 100 possessions in that game was comparable to the clip that the NBA-leading Brooklyn Nets’ offense has averaged this season.

With Matthew Mayer on the floor, the Bears have made 42% of their 3-point attempts in the NCAA tournament (32% without him).   While Mayer gave the Bears an offensive spark vs. Wisconsin it was their defense that was the difference in the game. Baylor scored 16 points off the Badgers’ uncharacteristic 14 turnovers. Against a Badgers team that was No. 1 in the country in committing just 8.9 turnovers per game, the Bears forced them into nine turnovers in the first half alone—converting that into 12 points.

Baylor coach Scott Drew’s team has earned a spot in the Sweet 16 for the fifth time in the last 12 years and first since 2017. Villanova is 9-1 when making 10n or more threes and 8-5 when it doesn’t this season. It’s 2-5 when it doesn’t hit at least 32% from the outside. Baylor only allowed 10n made threes or more in four games – winning all four – and held 12 teams to under 32% from the outside.

Baylor has led by at least 4 points in all 56 games over the last 2 seasons (double-digit leads in 47 of 56). Baylor’s current .418 team 3FG% is the 7th-best mark by any team in the Big 12’s 25-year history. Baylor is guaranteed to finish with its fewest losses since going 13-0 in 1911-12.

Jared Butler (Cousy, Wooden, Naismith semi/finalist), MaCio Teague (West Award finalist), Davion Mitchell & Mark Vital (Naismith Defensive POY Semifinalists) are all national award candidates. Butler is AP Big 12 Player of the Year, Baylor’s first conference POY since David Wesley (1992 SWC).

Game Trends
  • Wildcats are 17-5 ATS in their last 22 NCAA Tournament games.
  • Wildcats are 23-10-1 ATS in their last 34 neutral site games.
  • Wildcats are 2-6-1 ATS in their last 9 Saturday games.
  • Bears are 7-3 ATS in their last 10 neutral site games as a favorite.
  • Bears are 2-5 ATS in their last 7 games following a straight up win.
  • Bears are 2-5 ATS in their last 7 NCAA Tournament games as a favorite.
Expert Prediction
  • Baylor 78, Villanova 71

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