Last Updated: 2019-03-22
It was always going to be difficult for the No. 6 Villanova Wildcats to follow up what we have seen from them in recent years. Villanova has been a perennial contender with stars like Jalen Brunson, Kris Jenkins, Josh Hart, and Ryan Arcidiacono, but this was a rebuilding year and it took some time for this new group to get it going. The Wildcats overcame a slow start and are back in the NCAA Tournament, but they are an underdog heading into their second round game against the No. 3 Purdue Boilermakers on Saturday, March 23.
The oddsmakers have made #3 Purdue a four-point favorite over Villanova heading into this South Region Second Round game on Saturday, March 23, 2019. The total has been set at 137.5 points. This game will be the second one in a doubleheader at the XL Center in Hartford, Connecticut, and it is expected to tip around 9 p.m. ET. It will be broadcast on TNT.
How They Got Here
Both teams needed some time to look sharp. Purdue had some early woes against power conference opponents, and it appeared that this may be a rebuilding year. Instead, the Boilermakers took off after an overtime win over Wisconsin in early January, and they won 14 of their last 17 games to close out the year. Minnesota was able to upset Purdue twice in the last three games, costing them an outright conference title and knocking them out of the Big 10 Conference Tournament. However, Purdue got back on track with a comfortable win over Old Dominion on Thursday. The Boilermakers held the Monarchs to just 26.9 percent from the floor and won despite a poor shooting performance.
Villanova’s early season problems were the reason the Wildcats ended up as a No. 6 seed despite winning regular season and postseason conference titles. Nova ended up losing to Furman and Penn, and losses in five of their last eight to end the regular season didn’t help matters either. Despite this, they took care of St. Mary’s in a tough match-up, beating the Gaels 61-57. Eric Paschall and Phil Booth led the way with 20 and 14 points.
So. Many. Threes. If you’re a fan of three-pointers, you’re probably going to love this game. Purdue and Villanova both shoot a lot of threes, and each school is above average when it comes to making them.
Threes are an integral part of Villanova’s offense. The Wildcats are the only team in the NCAA Tournament that shoots more threes than twos, choosing to take the three on 53.2 percent of their field goal attempts. Their four most prolific three-point shooters are all hitting between 35 and 38 percent of their threes, but they are in trouble if they go cold.
Purdue’s offense revolves around Carsen Edwards. Edwards is averaging 19 field goal attempts per game, and he has been one of the most prolific scorers in the country. He has taken an incredibly 10 three-point attempts per game, so Nova must close out on him.
The only other prominent three-point shooter on the Boilermakers is Ryan Cline. Cline has taken more than seven triples a game, and he is hitting over 40 percent of them.
It will be interesting to see how Purdue uses Matt Haarms too. Haarms is 7’3 and can dominate the glass, but he isn’t very agile and can be a liability against a team that loves to shoot the three like Villanova. The Boilermakers are a good rebounding team eve without Haarms, so he may only play sparingly.
Nova’s defense has not been as strong as it has been in past years either. The Wildcats are outside of the top 100 in most defensive categories, and Purdue could take advantage.
Pick: Purdue Boilermakers -4
I wanted to take the Wildcats in this spot. Getting Villanova as an underdog makes a lot of sense at first glance. However, once you look into it, Purdue is the right play. The Boilermakers will be able to limit Villanova’s possessions and unless the Wildcats are a lot better from three, they won’t be able to keep it within the number.
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