The Villanova Wildcats and Baylor Bears meet in one of the most highly anticipated matchups of the Sweet Sixteen on Saturday at Hinkle Fieldhouse. Villanova is looking to stay hot and keep the train rolling, but one of the best teams in the country stands in their way this evening. After falling on the receiving end of an upset of their own, Villanova has been in nice form since the loss against Georgetown in the Big East Tournament. They are coming off a 84-61 win over the North Texas Mean Green on Sunday.
The Wildcats shot the ball incredibly well to pull away for an easy win and cover. Villanova must stay hot from the field if they’re going to pull off another win. This will be the first game of the tournament that they’ve been an underdog in. A lot of brackets had Villanova losing in the first-round against Winthrop. That might have been the hottest upset pick from the public of the First Round of the NCAA Tournament. While Villanova wasn’t perfect, they were able to record a double-digit 73-63 win. The Wildcats are still alive, though this is going to be their toughest opponent yet.
It’s not close in terms of talent level between Winthrop, North Texas, and Baylor. Villanova can’t afford to go into this game and think this is going to be a similar game. Having said that, Baylor is not unbeatable. They were on a clear path to a perfect season, but slipped up a couple of times, with losses against Kansas, 71-58, and Oklahoma State in the Big 12 Tournament, 83-74. They looked disinterested against Kansas on the road, and fell victim to a hot shooting Oklahoma State team in the conference tournament. Villanova must use that game as a roadmap for tonight.
Baylor has wins over Hartford, 79-55, and Wisconsin, 76-63, in the NCAA Tournament through the first two rounds. What Villanova is going to see tonight is going to be a more difficult chore, though the same could be said for Baylor. They can’t go through the motions like they did against Hartford and expect a win. As far as Wisconsin is concerned, the Wildcats pose a bigger offensive threat than the Badgers. It should be a good one at Hinkle Fieldhouse. Head below for our free Villanova vs. Baylor pick on March 27, 2021.
Villanova Wildcats (5) vs. Baylor Bears (1) Sweet Sixteen Betting Odds:
Villanova vs. Baylor Prediction:
The biggest sticking point for Villanona recently has been that they’ve learned how to play without the services of Colin Gillespie. Their floor general has been out since suffering an injury against Creighton on March 3 in a 72-60 win. It took Villanova a minute to figure it out, but they’ve been hitting their stride at the perfect time with the offense picking things up again.
Jeremiah Robinson-Earl was a mismatch problem for North Texas, and should give Baylor some problems as well. Robinson-Earl scored 18 points with 6 rebounds and 6 assists in the loss. The Wildcats are going to need another big production maker from Robinson-Earl tonight. Villanova shot the lights out against North Texas, and have been a consistent offense throughout the season.
Villanova scored an average of 75.8 points per game for 69th in the NCAA. Note that the Wildcats have notched at least 70 points in four of their last five outings. Expect Baylor to provide more resistance than North Texas on Saturday evening, but the Wildcats should be able to find some points in this one. Baylor was solid defensively, though far from the best unit in the NCAA. The Bears are 57th in the NCAA with 65.6 points conceded per game.
If Villanova isn’t prepared for the Baylor offense, then the Bears won’t have to care about allowing some jumpers. Baylor was one of the most dangerous offenses in the country this season. They rang up 85.3 points per game for third in the NCAA, and shot 49.7% from the field in an impressive effort.
Baylor leads the country from deep, converting at a 42.9% clip. Note that Baylor has recorded at least 70 points in seven straight outings. Look for Jared Butler and MaCio Teague to be a bit too much to handle for Villanova in this one. I could see a tight game, or a Baylor blowout. Neither outcome would surprise me. Both scenarios likely still results in enough points to put this game OVER the total.