No. 1 Pittsburgh Panthers vs. No. 3 Villanova Wildcats

NCAA Tournament Betting Preview
No. 1 Pittsburgh Panthers (31-4) vs. No. 3 Villanova Wildcats (29-7)
Saturday, 7:05PM Eastern betting line – Pittsburgh -2.5, O/U 142

The road to the Final Four is only one game away for two Big East Conference rivals out of the East bracket in top seeded Pittsburgh and number 3 seed Villanova. Pittsburgh has been one of the top front runners in the potent conference all season long and earned a number one seed in the tournament recently defeating Xavier 60-55 in the sweet sixteen. Villanova has been the biggest surprise in the tournament playing very solid and absolutely crushing the Duke Blue Devils in the sweet sixteen by score of 77-54. The Elite Eight grudge match will actually be a re-match from earlier this season when the Villanova Wildcats upset the Panthers handing them their biggest loss of the regular season 67-57. However, the first meeting means nothing as everything will be on the line this Saturday night as these two stellar teams continue their march towards a National Championship.

Pittsburgh has not been overwhelmingly impressive throughout their stay in the big dance. The Panthers unlike any other top seed have failed to beat any team by more than ten points despite making it to the Elite Eight. Pittsburgh is coming off a struggle of a victory over Xavier where the game went right down to the closing seconds. If not for a huge 3 pointer drained by Levance Fields, the Panthers would likely be watching this game on television this weekend. However, Pittsburgh will try to bounce back with a superb performance like they are so capable of doing. The Panthers have been stellar on offensive as well against the boards this season. Sam Young leads the scoring efforts averaging 19 points per game while the Panthers have averaged a strong 78 points per game this season that ranks in the top 25 for offenses across the country. DeJuan Blair is the big reason that Pittsburgh has been so strong against the glass this season and a big reason that the Panthers were able to beat Xavier on Thursday night. Blair’s defense stood out tremendously in the closing minutes of their win over the Musketeers. Blair has averaged 12.4 rebounds per game this season along with 16 points per game as well. These two standouts will be the biggest influence for Pittsburgh’s success and chance to reach the final four when they take on Villanova.

Villanova has emerged out of the darkness as a quiet number 3 seed and is making their voice heard as one of the top teams left in the tournament. The Wildcats completely dominated every aspect of the game against Duke playing terrific defense. The speed that Villanova possesses gave them a big advantage over Duke and will likely be the same against Pittsburgh. Junior guard Reggie Redding led the Wildcats in their victory over Pittsburgh earlier this season with 18 points. Dante Cunningham has been the most effective scorer all season for Villanova averaging 16 points per game while Scottie Reynolds has posted 15 points per game as well. The Wildcats surprisingly out rebounded Duke 48-32 in their big win on Thursday night and they will need a lot of rebounding help to get the edge over Pittsburgh who has been very strong on the boards this season. Villanova may be the underdog going into the contest, but they already know how to take down the Panthers. The question is will they be able to do it again?

Betting Trends…
Pittsburgh is 13-2 SU in their last 15 games while reaching the under in 4 of their last 5 games. Villanova is 6-1 SU in their last 7 games. In previous meeting between the schools, Pittsburgh is 4-1 ATS over Villanova in the last 5 games while all 5 previous games have reached the under total.

Pick – Villanova +2.5

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