Villanova an underdog for first time since 2016 against Purdue

Charlie Grant | Updated Mar 23, 2019

phil booth nova

Phil Booth led Villanova during the regular season and again in the Round of 64 matchup against Saint Mary’s. Booth collected 20 points and six assists on Thursday night.

Villanova is an underdog in an NCAA Tournament game for the first time since 2016 and for good reason. The defending national champion drew a tough Round of 32 opponent in Purdue. Carsen Edwards hopes to power the Boilermakers to a third straight Sweet 16 appearance when they take on Jay Wright’s Wildcats Saturday night in Hartford.

Villanova extended its impressive track record in March Madness games with its 61-57 win over Saint Mary’s. The Wildcats narrowly covered the spread as 3.5-point chalk and pushed their Tournament win streak to seven games. The club is also a perfect 7-0 against the number over the same stretch, and now 13-1 against the spread (ATS) in its last 14 NCAA Tournament games.

The Wildcats are also 11-2 against the number in their last 13 contests against Big East opposition, and 8-1 straight up in neutral site games this season. The Over is 4-1 in the team’s last five games overall, but just 3-12-1 in Villanova’s last 16 games against non-conference foes.

Purdue impressed during its 61-48 win over Old Dominion in the Round of 64. The Boilermakers covered as 12.5-point favourites and 39-19 in their last 58 non-conference games. Matt Painter’s crew is 7-4 ATS in its last 11 games in the Big Dance. About 55 percent of Sports Interaction bettors are backing the Boilermakers to cover as 4-point faves in Saturday’s showdown.

Villanova guards key to Wildcats’ success

From Jalen Brunson to Josh Hart, the Wildcats own a history of dominant guards excelling in the NCAA Tournament. This year’s squad is led by senior guard Phil Booth. He led Villanova during the regular season and again in the Round of 64 matchup against Saint Mary’s. Booth collected 20 points and six assists on Thursday night.

The Wildcats are an efficient but slow on offence. The team ranks 16th in KenPom’s Adjusted Offence but averages only 74.1 points per game. Villanova hasn’t scored more than 80 points in a game since the middle of February. The under went 7-3 in the program’s last 10 regular season games.

Oddsmakers like Big Ten squads

The Big Ten is enjoying one hell of a season. The conference ranked No. 1 during the regular season according to KenPom and Big Ten teams went 5-0 straight up on the first day of the tournament.

Junior guard Carsen Edwards is the main threat for Purdue. He finished 12th in the nation in scoring at 23 points per game and he notched 26 in Thursday’s game against Old Dominion.

Villanova vs. Purdue Prediction

Purdue 70-Villanova 66

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