No. 1 Baylor (-7.5) vs. No. 5 Villanova
I am so excited for this matchup and I hope you are too. I have futures champion bet on Baylor to win it all (+450) and if you do too - we REALLY have to like the path Baylor has to the Final Four.
With a matchup versus No. 5 Villanova Saturday, then either No. 3 Arkansas or No. 15 Oral Roberts in the Elite 8, it all worked out for No. 1 Baylor, in my opinion.
In the regular season, Baylor ranked third in the nation scoring 83.8 points per game. The Bears are ranked first in three-point percentage (41.5%), third in adjusted offensive efficiency (122.8), third in effective field goal percentage (56.9%) and 45th in two-point percentage (53.5%).
Over the last five games, Baylor has averaged 78.2 points per game and attempted 25 three-pointers per game. In the NCAA Tournament, Baylor attempted 50 triples, 33 against Hartford and 17 versus Wisconsin. Baylor made 19 for 38%, a little below its season average.
Now, Baylor faces a Villanova team that ranks 238th overall with a 34.9% three-point defense. However, Villanova held North Texas and Winthrop to 15-of-48 (31.2%) from deep in the NCAA Tournament's first two rounds. That is a positive, but the talent gap between Baylor and those two squads is tremendous and will show.
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Villanova is 4-5 SU (44.4%) this season when they allow opponents to score 70 or more points. Baylor is 22-1 SU (95.6%) this season when they score 74 or more points. Baylor has scored 74 or more in seven straight games entering this Sweet 16 matchup.
Only two teams in 24 games this season scored 75 or more on Villanova, Virginia Tech and Creighton. However, nine teams have touched 70-plus versus Villanova and Baylor, in all respect, should end up on that list.
GAMES BAYLOR SCORED UNDER 75 ALL SEASON
JAN. 9: AT TCU - 67
JAN. 16: AT TEXAS TECH - 68
FEB. 27: AT KANSAS - 58
MAR. 11: VS KANSAS STATE - 74
MAR. 12: VS OKLAHOMA STATE - 74
The two games with Kansas State and Oklahoma State were in the Big 12 Tournament, marking seven straight games with 74 or more points. In the last two, in the NCAA Tournament and post-Oklahoma State, Baylor scored 79 and 76 points winning by a combined 37 points.
The Over is 2-1 (66.6%) in Villanova's last three games and 8-2 (10%) over the previous 10 for Baylor. The Over has moved from its opening total of 139.0 to 142.0. If this matchup is high-scoring as the line movement expects, Baylor should score 70-plus points.
The Bears rank third in the nation for defensive turnover percentage (24.7%). Baylor forced Wisconsin and Hartford into 38 turnovers through two games, posting 14 themselves.
Villanova leads the country in offensive turnover percentage (13.2%), recording 12 turnovers through two NCAA Tournament games. Wisconsin finished the season fourth in offensive turnover percentage thanks to Baylor, who forced them into 14 turnovers.
Baylor scored 76 on Wisconsin and recorded only four committed turnovers and 17 attempted triples. Expect far more three-pointers from Baylor, surpassing 20 easily, in my opinion versus Villanova. We should see a clean game or Baylor forcing more turnovers versus Villanova then the Wildcats are used to.
Given the Bears track record lately and on the season, I will take Baylor's Team Total Over 74.5 (-125) on PointsBet. Villanova's three-point defense looked above average versus North Texas and Winthrop, but this appears to be the end of the road for the Wildcats.
The spread grew from -7 to -7.5 in favor of Baylor. The Bears have beat 21-of-26 teams by the margin this season. While I believe we could get a better live in-game spread than the -7.5, I parlayed Baylor's Money Line with Alabama's Money Line (Sunday) - in addition to SEPARATELY playing the Team Total of Baylor.
I will live bet Baylor's spread or Money Line depending on if Villanova is hanging around or as a hedge situation if Baylor appears likely to fall short of 75 points.
Game Pick: Baylor Team Total Over 74.5 (1u), Baylor and Alabama MLP (1u) (Money Line Parlay)
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