Villanova Wildcats vs. Connecticut Huskies NCAA Tournament East Region Pick-Odds-Prediction 3/22/14
Connecticut Huskies (27-8) at Villanova Wildcats (29-4)
College Basketball: Saturday, March 22, 2014 at 9:40 pm (First Niagara Center)
The Line: Villanova Wildcats -- Over/Under: See the Latest Odds
Old Big East rivals square off as the Connecticut Huskies battle the Villanova Wildcats Saturday at 9:40PM on TBS.
Connecticut needed a huge three ball late to force overtime before blowing the game open for the 89-81 win over St. Joseph’s Thursday night. The Huskies trailed for most of the contest before rallying late. Once again, UConn was led by the quality play of guard Shabazz Napier. Napier. Despite shooting 7-22 from the floor, Napier scored 24 points, including key buckets down the stretch in regulation and key free throws in OT. Napier also added 8 points and 6 assists. DeAndre Daniels had 18 and 3 boards and Ryan Boatwright scored 17 points and added 3 assists. The Huskies shot it 45% from both the three point line and the field and were very impressive at the line, finishing 18-20 at the stripe.
Villanova didn’t break much of a sweat in the first round as they cruised by an undermanned Milwaukee team, 73-53. The Wildcats traded baskets with the Panthers for about 20 minutes before blowing the game open in the second half behind hot shooting and quality defense. On the offensive end, Darrun Hilliard continued to ride his hot hand -- the swingman led all scorers with 16 points. Jayvaughn Pinkston and James Bell combined for 25 points and 15 rebounds and the Wildcats forced 8 steals and blocked 10 shots in the paint. The Wildcats also got 26 points off the bench from their reserves -- if Villanova can get production like that consistently, they will be a tough out as the tournament moves on.
These two have a long history of playing very close games and with an offseason on the line, I expect that to be the case here. Look for Napier to present matchup challenges for the bigger Nova guards, but Nova to have the edge in the paint. I think this one comes down to the wire and I like Shabazz Napier’s scoring to be the difference as the Huskies squeak out the upset win and move on to the Sweet 16. Check back for the line.