(3) Miami Hurricanes vs (2) Villanova Wildcats (-4, 140.5 o/u)
Long a March disappointment, Jay Wright and the Villanova Wildcats (31-5 SU, 18-17 ATS) exorcised some tournament demons last weekend, cruising through the first two rounds of play to reach the Sweet 16 for the first time since 2009. Tomorrow (7:10 PM Eastern at the KFC Yum! Center in Louisville), the Wildcats will face a Miami Hurricane team (27-7 SU, 19-13-1 ATS) that was up-and-down through the first weekend.
The Wildcats have been thoroughly average against the spread this season, going 18-17 ATS, but they won their first two March Madness games by double-digits – hammering no. 15 UNC Asheville (86-56) and no. 7 Iowa (87-68) – and covered the spread in both.
The deep and balanced team continued to get contributions from multiple sources. Senior forward Daniel Ochefu led the team with 17 points against UNC Asheville, while junior guard Josh Hart took control against Iowa, scoring 19 points.
Miami got off to a slow start in their first round game, taking a two-point lead into the half against no. 14 Buffalo. But the Canes stretched the lead to double-digits for most of the second frame and held on for a 79-72 win.
Miami’s dynamic backcourt duo of Angel Rodriguez (24 points) and Sheldon MccLellan (20 points) put the team on its back in the win over the Bulls.
Rodriguez was even better against Wichita State in round two, going off for 28 points, five boards, and four steals in a 65-57 win. The senior has shot 6 of 11 from three-point land in the tourney.
Miami covered as two-point dogs against the Shockers, but lost ATS in the Buffalo game as 14-point favorites. They also squandered a 21-point lead to Wichita State before battling back for the win.
The Hurricanes will be looking for their first Elite Eight appearance in school history tomorrow. They’re backcourt should be able to keep pace with Nova’s own great guard tandem of Hart and Ryan Arcidiacono, but the Wildcats will have the advantage upfront thanks to Ochefu. When you throw in the way Nova’s defense has played over the first two games, Hart and company look like the play.
Pick: Villanova (-4).
(Photo credit: By Jeff Turner (Bird’s Eye View) [CC BY 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons.)