Saturday’s NCAA Tournament second round betting preview: East Region

(8) Wisconsin Badgers vs (1) Villanova Wildcats (-5.5, 128.5)

Game to be played at KeyBank Center, Buffalo, New York

There will be plenty of Final Four experience on the court Saturday when top seed Villanova faces No. 8 seed Wisconsin in the East Region’s second round of the NCAA Tournament in Buffalo, N.Y. The Wildcats won the national championship last season, while the Badgers need to pull the upset if they have any hopes of returning to the Final Four for the third time in four seasons.

Villanova opened its title defense with a 20-point win against Mount St. Mary’s in which the team overcame a dreadful start, missing its first eight shots and not taking a lead until 2:33 remained in the half. “I’m not annoyed,” Villanova coach Jay Wright said afterward. “I really am shocked, not how Mount St. Mary’s played, but that we didn’t start the game with energy. We don’t have time to figure it out.” The Wildcats likely can’t afford another slow start against a Badgers team that topped Virginia Tech on Thursday behind Bronson Koenig and Nigel Hayes, two seniors with a pair of Final Fours on their resume. “I think it definitely helped a lot for us to have the older guys that we have to have been through some of the runs that we’ve had in the tournament,” said Hayes. “I think it showed with Bronson, the way he responded to each time they went on a run. Each time they hit a big shot he responded with a big shot. And it’s something that you need.”

TV: 2:40 p.m. ET, CBS 
 
LINE HISTORY:  Villanova opened as 5.5-point favorites and that number hasn’t moved as of Friday evening.  The total opened at 128.5 and briefly went to 129 before fading back to 128. Check out the complete line history here.

BETTING STATS:

ABOUT WISCONSIN (26-9 SU, 16-16 ATS, 13-16-3 OU): The Badgers received 28 points from Koenig and a 16-point, 10-rebound effort from Hayes in their opening-round win and only committed eight turnovers in a smooth overall performance. Koenig made a school-record eight 3-pointers versus Virginia Tech and is shooting nearly 58 percent from the arc over the last six games. Hayes is eying his fourth consecutive double-double and has outperformed his season scoring average (13.6) in each of the last three outings. 

ABOUT VILLANOVA (32-3 SU, 18-16 ATS, 12-22-0 OU): Donte DiVincenzo led the way with 21 points in the opening round as the Wildcats overcame a first half in which they led by one point at intermission to cruise in the final 20 minutes. Josh Hart, the Big East Player of the Year, was held to modest totals of 11 points and five rebounds, although the bigger concern for Villanova has to be fellow senior Kris Jenkins. Ther hero from last season’s national title game was 2-of-13 from the floor against the Hokies and is 2-of-17 from the arc over the last three games. 
 
MATCHUP CHART:

TRENDS:

* Badgers are 6-1 ATS in their last 7 non-conference games.
* Wildcats are 11-1 ATS in their last 12 vs. Big Ten.
* Under is 9-2-1 in Badgers last 12 neutral site games.
* Under is 4-1 in Wildcats last 5 games following a ATS loss.

Click here for a complete list of hot and cold trends.

(5) Virginia Cavaliers vs (4) Florida Gators (-1, 125.5)

Game to be played at Amway Center, Orlando, Florida

Florida and Virginia meet Saturday in the second round of the NCAA tournament’s East Regional in Orlando, Fla., in a matchup of two power-five conference teams with excellent defenses. Both teams will look for better performances in round two, after the fourth-seed Gators shook off a sluggish first half to pull away from East Tennessee State University and the fifth-seed Cavaliers actually relied on their offense to hold off UNC-Wilmington.

Virginia, which leads the nation in scoring defense, shot 51 percent from the field and got a career-high 23 points off the bench from Marial Shayok in the five-point victory. “We were down, and we just knew we had to get aggressive,” Virginia coach Tony Bennett told reporters after the Cavaliers rallied from 15 points down in the first half. Florida, which came into the tournament averaging 9.5 turnovers per game (third in the nation), committed eight in the first half before turning a one-point halftime lead into a comfortable 15-point victory. “We had to rev it up,” Florida forward Devin Robinson told the media after scoring a career-high 24 points. “We got comfortable at the end of the first half.”

TV: 8:40 p.m. ET, TNT

LINE HISTORY:  Florida opened as 1.5-point favorites and that was briefly bet down to an even 1, before returning to the opening number Friday evening.  The total opened at 127.5 and was bet down as low as 125 before rebounding to 126. Check out the complete line history here.

BETTING STATS:



ABOUT VIRGINIA (23-10 SU, 18-13 ATS, 11-19-1 OU): London Perrantes (24 points) and Shayok combined to shoot 17-of-31 from the field as the Cavaliers reached the second round for the fourth consecutive season. Virginia gave up 10 3-pointers, just the third time in 33 games an opponent has hit double-digit shots from beyond the arc. The Cavaliers posted their highest point total in a regulation game since scoring 79 against Wake Forest on Jan. 8.

ABOUT FLORIDA (25-8 SU, 18-13 ATS, 14-17-0 OU): The Gators led the SEC and ranked 13th nationally in field-goal percentage defense (39.5 percent), but gave up 48.2 percent shooting to ETSU in the opening 20 minutes. Florida’s defense improved in the second half, the Gators limiting ETSU to six field goals in the first 17 minutes of the half. Robinson hit 10-of-17 shots and added seven rebounds, while Kevarrius Hayes added seven points, seven rebounds and six steals.

MATCHUP CHART:

TRENDS:

* Cavaliers are 1-6 ATS in their last 7 games vs. a team with a winning % above .600.
* Gators are 9-2 ATS in their last 11 games as a favorite of 0.5-6.5.
* Over is 4-0 in Cavaliers last 4 NCAA Tournament games.
* Over is 9-2 in Gators last 11 NCAA Tournament games as a favorite of 0.5-6.5.

Click here for a complete list of hot and cold trends.


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