College Basketball South Regional Semifinals: #3 Miami Hurricanes vs #2 Villanova Wildcats

2016 NCAA Tournament
South Region – Regional Semifinal
#3 Miami Hurricanes vs #2 Villanova Wildcats
Thursday, March 24, 2016, 7:10 pm Eastern, TV: CBS
KFC Yum! Center – Louisville, Kentucky
Opening Line: Villanova -4 1/2 (-109)
Current Line: Villanova -4
Opening Total: 142
Current Total: 140
Opening Money Line: Villanova -200 / Miami +170
Current Money Line: Villanova -190  / Miami +165

Villanova and Miami meet in the Sweet 16 Thursday in Louisville.
Villanova and Miami meet in the Sweet 16 Thursday in Louisville.

The 27-7 Miami Hurricanes and the 31-5 Villanova Wildcats meet in the Sweet 16 Thursday in the South Region in Louisville. Villanova is the #2 seed and Miami is the #3 seed. The winner will face either #1 Kansas or #5 Maryland in the regional final Saturday.

Villanova leads the series 13-10 against Miami. The two teams were both members of the Big East from 1992-2004 before Miami left for the ACC. Miami won the last meeting in 2004. The Hurricanes have won 9 of the last 13 games against the Wildcats.

Miami is coached by Jim Larranaga. The Hurricanes tied for second in the ACC with Virginia at 13-5. Miami beat Virginia Tech in the quarterfinals of the ACC  Tournament in Washington, DC, but lost to Virginia 73-68 in the semifinals. Miami is making their eighth appearance in the NCAA Tournament and first since 2013. The Hurricanes are making their third trip to the Sweet 16. Miami beat #14 seed Buffalo 79-72 in the first game and #11 seed Wichita State 65-57 in the second round last Saturday in Providence.

Miami has a home loss to Northeastern, plus road losses at Virginia, Clemson, North Carolina State, North Carolina and Virginia Tech. Miami has neutral site wins over Mississippi State, Utah and Butler in a tournament in Puerto Rico, plus road wins at Nebraska, LaSalle, Boston College, Georgia Tech, Florida State and Notre Dame. The Hurricanes have home wins over Louisiana, Charlotte, Florida, College of Charleston, Princeton, Syracuse, Florida State, Wake Forest, Duke, Notre Dame, Pittsburgh, Virginia Tech, Virginia, and Louisville. Miami is 19-13-1 ATS and the total is 16-17 this season. The Hurricanes were 2 point underdogs against Wichita State and the total was 129.

Villanova is coached by Jay Wright. The Wildcats are making their 36th trip to the tournament and 11th since 2005. Villanova hasn’t been to the sweet 16 since 2009. Villanova won the Big East regular season title with a 16-2 record. The Wildcats beat Georgetown in the quarterfinals of the Big East Tournament and Providence in the semifinals before losing to Seton Hall in the championship. The loss snapped a five game winning streak for Villanova. Villanova beat #15 seed UNC-Asheville 86-56 in the first round of the NCAA Tournament in Brooklyn and beat #7 Iowa 87-68 in the second round Sunday.

Villanova is coached by Jay Wright. The Wildcats have losses to Oklahoma in Hawaii and at Virginia, Providence and Xavier. Villanova has home wins over Nebraska, Akron, LaSalle, Delaware, Penn, Xavier, Seton Hall, Marquette, Creighton, St. John’s, Butler, DePaul and Georgetown. The Wildcats have neutral site wins over Stanford and Georgia Tech in the NIT Season Tip-off in Brooklyn, along with road wins at St. Joseph’s, Creighton, Butler, Georgetown, Seton Hall, St. John’s, Providence, DePaul, Temple and Marquette. Villanova is 17-17-1 ATS and the total is 18-16-1 this season. The Wildcats were 6 point favorites against Iowa and the total was 146.5.

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Miami is outscoring teams 75-67 this season. The Hurricanes are shooting 47.7% from the field and 36.9% from three point range. Miami is #27 in field goal percentage. The Hurricanes make 75.1% of their free throws and are #23 nationally in that category. Opponents are shooting 42.6% from the field and 33.6% from three point range. Miami averages 35 rebounds per game and opponents average 29 per game. The Hurricanes are #34 nationally in rebounds allowed. Miami averages 12.5 assists, 10.9 turnovers, 6.1 steals and 3.7 blocks per game. Opponents average 11.2 assists, 11.7 turnovers, 5.2 steals and 2.5 blocks per game.

Sheldon McClellan averages 16 points, 3.2 rebounds, 1.6 assists and 1.1 steals per game. Angel Rodriguez averages 12.6 points, 2.6 rebounds, 4.4 assists and 1.6 steals per game. Davon Reed averages 11.2 points, 4.1 rebounds and 1.2 assists per game. Ja’Quan Newton averages 10.8 points, 2.4 rebounds and 2.5 assists per game. Five other players get significant time in the rotation.

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Villanova is outscoring teams 78-64 this season. The Wildcats are #15 nationally in points allowed. Villanova is shooting 47.4% from the field and 35.1% from 3 point range. Villanova is #32 in field goal percentage. The Wildcats are shooting 77.5% from the free throw line. Villanova is #3 nationally in free throw shooting. Opponents are shooting 40.1% from the field and 33.3% from 3 point range. Villanova is #32 in field goal defense. Villanova averages 35.4 rebounds per game and opponents average 29.5 per game. The Wildcats average 16.5 assists, 11.2 turnovers, 6.8 steals and 3.5 blocks per game. Opponents average 12.9 assists, 13.8 turnovers, 5.8 steals and 2.2 blocks per game.

Josh Hart averages 15.4 points, 6.9 rebounds, 1.9 assists and 1.1 steals per game. Kris Jenkins averages 13.3 points, 3.7 rebounds, and 2.2 assists per game. Ryan Arcidiacono averages 12 points, 2.9 rebounds, 4.4 assists, and 1.4 steals per game.  Jalen Brunson averages 10 points, 1.8 rebounds, and 2.7 assists. Daniel Ochefu averages 9.8 points, 7.8 rebounds, 1.7 assists and 1.6 blocks per game. Mikal Bridges, Phil Booth, and Darryl Reynolds will also get time in the rotation. Donte DiVincenzo and Tim Delaney are both out indefinitely.

Miami is 13-4 ATS in non-conference games, 21-8-1 after a straight up win, 3-7-1 in Thursday games, 1-4 against teams with winning records, and overall. The underdog has covered 4 of the last 5 games in this series.

Villanova is 4-1 ATS in Thursday game, 34-16-2 in non-conference games, 37-18-2 against teams with winning records, 2-6 after a straight up win, 1-4 after a cover, and 1-5 against ACC teams.

These two top ten teams are evenly matched statistically. Both like to play in the mid 70’s so this should be an up and down affair. Villanova is slightly better on defense and I think that will be the difference. I like the Wildcats to return to the Elite Eight.

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