2014 NCAA Tournament East Region Odds: (7) Connecticut Huskies vs. (2) Villanova Wildcats
Betting odds courtesy of Bovada
Connecticut put together a pretty impressive season, and was one of only two teams to defeat the No. 1 overall ranked Florida Gators, pulling a 65-64 upset on Dec 2, while Florida was ranked 15th in the nation. The Huskies closed the season by winning four of its last six games, and three of those wins came against AP ranked teams (Cincinnati, twice; and Memphis). Still, the Huskies face a tall task in Big East foes Villanova, and college basketball oddsmakers set the line 4 points in favor of Villanova in second round action Thursday night.
UConn’s big draw is 6’1? senior guard Shabazz Napier. Napier led the team in scoring, rebound and assists despite his small size (17.4 points per game, 5.9 rebounds, 4.9 assists). He’s a good shooter with range, and he hoists threes in volume. Napier connected on 39 percent from behind the arc while attempting just over five per game this season. Disconcerting, however, is the fact Napier closed the season by hitting just 9-of-25 over the Huskies’ final two games, including an 0-of-4 three-point shooting night against Cincinnati.
Villanova faced only two ranked teams all year, and split those matchups, losing to then-No. 2 Syracuse on Dec 28 and winning a big one over then-No. 2 Kansas 63-59 on Nov 29. The Wildcats had little problem scoring the ball all season, ranking 30th among D-1 schools in scoring (78.5 points per game). Nova passed the ball extremely well (15.6 assists per game), and only committed 12 turnovers per game, despite playing high octane basketball.
The Wildcats are led by the trio of James Bell, Darrun Hilliard II and JayVaughn Pinkston, all of whom averaged roughly 14 points per game. Pinkston, a 6’7? 260 pound junior, is an imposing force on the interior. He averaged 6.1 rebounds per game and shot a high clip from the field (52.6 percent). Over his last five games, Pinkston has averaged 10 points and seven rebounds per game while shooting 50 percent or better from the floor in all but one contest.
CON Trends: UNDER 13-3 in last 16 overall; UNDER 8-2 in last 10 non-conf. games
VIL Trends: OVER 8-1-1 in last 10 Saturday games; 15-3 ATS in last 18 Saturday games; 38-17 ATS in last 55 overall.