March Madness Matchup: NC Asheville vs. Villanova
The elite, second-seeded Villanova Wildcats will look to kick off what they believe will be a deep March Madness tourney run when they take on a NC Asheville team that has been on a nice run recently. Covering the spread may not be a walk in the park for Villanova seeing as how UNC Asheville ranked first in the nation in one increasingly important defensive statistical category. Now, let’s find out who’s going to bring home the bacon for this NCAAB online betting spread.
March Madness Matchup: NC Asheville Bulldogs vs. Villanova Wildcats
When: 12:40 PM ET, Friday, March 18, 2016
Where: Barclays Center, Brooklyn, New York
TV: 12:40 p.m. ET, TruTV
Stream: NCAA March Madness Live
NCAAB Odds: Villanova -17.5
Why Bet the NC Asheville Bulldogs
The UNC Asheville Bulldogs (22-11 SU, 6-0 ATS) are back in the Big Dance for the first time since 2012. The Dogs have won three straight coming into this contest and have a gifted freshman in Dwayne Sutton that won the Big South conference tournament MVP award after putting up 25 points and 18 rebounds against Winthrop the last time out.
Sutton leads a group of four players that average at least 12 points per game. UNC Asheville averages 75.6 points per game and allows just 67.5 points per contest defensively (70th). The Bulldogs are also the No. 1 ranked team in all of college basketball at defending the three-point shot (28.4%).
Why Bet the Villanova Wildcats
Villanova (29-5 SU, 15-17-1 ATS) is better on both sides of the ball and that’s a good reason to pick them to win this contest outright. The Wildcats had won an impressive 12 of their last 13 games before suffering an unexpected loss to Seton Hall in their Big East conference tournament showdown last week.
Villanova ranks second in the nation in free throw shooting (77.7%) and 44th in field goal shooting percentage (46.7). More importantly, the Wildcats are elite when it comes to playing defense, ranking 20th in points allowed (63.7 ppg) and 29th in field goal shooting defense (40.0%). The Cats have just three players that average double digits in scoring, but two more players that average over 9.0 points per contest and two more that average at least 6.0 points per outing. The well-balanced Wildcats have eight players averaging at least 17 minutes per game.
Expert Pick & Final Score Prediction
While a whopping 66 percent of the betting public likes Villanova to get the win and ATS cover, I don’t! I know UNC Asheville doesn’t play nearly the same caliber of competition in the Big South that Villanova does in the Big East conference, but the Bulldogs defend the three-point shot better than any team in the country and should at least be able to keep Villanova in their sights in this matchup.
The Bulldogs are a perfect 4-0 ATS in their last four games against a team with a winning SU record and an even more impressive 6-0 ATS in their last half-dozen games overall. The Bulldogs are also an insane 20-7-1 ATS in their last 28 neutral site games while Villanova has gone 2-5 ATS in their last seven neutral site games, 2-7 ATS in their last nine NCAA Tournament games and just 1-4 ATS in their L/5 games overall.
Each of the Bulldogs’ last eight losses have all come by five points or fewer with each of their last four losses coming by two points or less.
My final score prediction is Villanova 75, UNC Asheville 65