Free Pick - Villanova vs. Miami

Representing the # 2 and # 3 seeds of the South bracket, the Villanova Wildcats will take on the Miami Hurricanes in the Sweet Sixteen on Thursday night. Villanova advanced with a wire-to wire 87-68 rout of Iowa. The past 2 years Villanova has not made it past the round of 32 despite being a # 1 seed last year and a # 2 seed in 2014. They are back in the Sweet Sixteen for the first time since 2009. Miami was able to hold on despite blowing a 21 point second half lead in their 65 -57 victory over the 1th seeded Wichita State. Miami is playing in the Sweet Sixteen for the first time in the school’s history.

Villanova used a balanced scoring attack to easily dismantle Iowa as 7 players had at least 6 points. Junior guard Josh Hart, who had 19 points, 4 rebounds and 2 assists, led them offensively. As a team, they made almost 60% of their shots connecting on 32 of their 54 field goal attempts. They were able to force Iowa into 13 turnovers but had 13 themselves with 5 coming from Josh Hart. Daniel Ochefu filled up the stat sheet as he had 6 points, 11 rebounds, 4 assists, 3 steals and 3 blocks. Defensively, they held Iowa to 29% from three-point range and had 9 steals and 4 blocks. If there was a negative in this game it is that they were outrebounded on the offensive glass 10-6. Villanova is the only other school besides Kansas to be ranked in the top 10 in both offensive and defensive efficiency.

Miami was able to hold on and beat Wichita State thanks to the outstanding play of senior guard Angel Rodriguez. Rodriguez scored 28 points on 9-11 shooting while also grabbing 2 rebounds, 5 assists and 4 steals. He is now averaging 26 points per game so far in the tournament after averaging just 13 all season. Sheldon McClellan also had a productive game with 18 points, 3 rebounds and a steal. Defensively, they held Wichita State to 34 percent shooting including just 6-22 from three-point range. They did a good job forcing turnovers as Wichita State had 15, but they had trouble holding onto the ball as they committed 16 with 7 coming from Angel Rodriguez. They also had some trouble on the boards, as they were outrebounded 33-26.

Villanova is 16-17-1 against the spread this year including 16-15-1 as the favorite. Miami is 19-10-3 against the spread this year including 1-2-1 as the underdog. These 2 teams are very evenly matched statistically with Villanova averaging 77 points per game to Miami’s 76 and Miami shoots 47 percent from the field while Villanova shoots 46. Miami grabs 35 rebounds per game as Villanova grabs 36 while they both average 3.5 blocks per game. Villanova is 4 point favorites in this game but recent history has shown Villanova can be upset like they were the previous 2 years.