The No. 12 Winthrop Eagles will be looking to spring an upset over the No. 5 Villanova Wildcats on Friday night. This is the final game that is being tipped off this evening, with a scheduled start time of 9:57 p.m. EST. It’s quite possible that this game doesn’t get underway until after 10:00. If earlier games drag on, then tip off could be pushed back for Winthrop and Villanova. The latest game of the evening may end up being the most entertaining of the bunch.
Winthrop might be the No. 12 seed, but they are only 6.5-point underdogs. In other words, if the Eagles win this game, the media might report that it’s some big upset. That wouldn’t exactly be the same. A 12 seed beating a 5 isn’t anything new, and Winthrop is a good team that only lost one game this season. The Eagles head into the NCAA Tournament with a record of 23-1. Their only loss was on January 15 in an upset against UNC Asheville, 57-56. Since then, the Eagles have won 11 straight games, including the Big South Championship.
Winthrop is coming off a 80-53 win over the Campbell Fighting Camels last Sunday. The entire Big South Tournament was a stroll in the park for Winthrop. They cruised past No. 8 High Point to open the tournament, 83-54, then made it just as easy against No. 5 Longwood, 82-61, and No. 3 Campbell. Winthrop needs a bigger test and they’re going to get that in the NCAA Tournament starting against Villanova on Friday night.
The Wildcats are coming off an upset loss against the Georgetown Hoyas in the first round of the Big East Tournament, 72-71. Georgetown moved on to upset everybody else as well, so the loss for Villanova doesn’t look as bad as it did at first. We were on Georgetown in that game plus the points at TheSportsGeek, so it played out just perfectly. Villanova were without Collin Gillepsie in that one, and will be for the remainder of the year regardless if they move on or not.
Justin Moore was expected to be out as well, but he played with a bad knee and was clearly impacted by it. Moore scored 10 points through 27 minutes in the loss. He should be much closer to 100% tonight, though. The Wildcats go into the first round with a record of 16-6. A big performance from Moore is needed against an upset-minded Winthrop squad. Head below for our free Winthrop vs. Villanova pick on March 19, 2021 in the first round of the NCAA Tournament.
Winthrop Eagles (No. 12) vs. Villanova Wildcats (No. 5) NCAA Tournament Betting Odds:
Winthrop vs. Villanova Prediction:
Villanova has to be on their toes Friday night. After the loss against Georgetown, they should awake and alert for an upset by now. That loss might have been a blessing in disguise for Villanova. I doubt that they’re going to take Winthrop lightly in the first round. They had a lot of time to think about that Georgetown loss after getting bounced early. While Villanova lost the conference tournament, they did win the regular season title with a record of 11-4 in the Big East.
The biggest takeaway for Villanova going into the first round is that they must acknowledge that Winthrop has some shooters on their side. When the Eagles are feeling hot, they can catch fire from the field. They scored at least 80 points in all of their tournament games, and were the 35th best offenses, statistically, in the NCAA throughout the 2020-21 campaign.
The Eagles notched 79.2 points per game this season. Their ability to rebound on the offensive end helped out considerably. They were 11th in the NCAA in that regard, and should be able to have some success on the boards versus Villanova. Winthrop was 30th in the country for defensive rebounding, so they cleaned up the boards well. Their defensive numbers were sharp as well, with 68.3 points against per game for 123rd.
It must be said, though, how much of that was because they played in the Big South? Probably a good chunk of it. They will have to step up against a Villanova team that is likely going to score. With Moore healthier on the floor, the Wildcats should be in good form against Winthrop. Navigating through a Big South defense shouldn’t pose too many problems. I jumped on this total once it opened below the 140 mark, but still believe it’s at a bettable number currently. In a potential upset to end the day on Friday, look for Winthrop and Villanova to OVER the total.