Game to be played at NRG Stadium, Houston, TX
Buddy Hield has turned the NCAA Tournament into a personal highlight reel and the stage gets bigger Saturday when he leads Oklahoma into their first Final Four game in 14 years against Villanova in Houston. The Sooners’ senior scored 37 points in the Elite Eight victory over Oregon last weekend, is averaging 29.3 on 56.7 percent shooting in the tournament and presents a skill set that will dominate the Wildcats’ pregame preparations.
“The way people are guarding Buddy and getting into him, it impacts everything,” Oklahoma coach Lon Kruger told the media. “It helps create opportunities going at the goal and maybe when two guys are on him one guy might roll and we can get a lob. … So how defenses cover Buddy effects everyone.” While Hield is the unquestioned star of the Final Four, Villanova can come at you in waves with four players averaging double figures in the tournament. Three of them – Ryan Arcidiacono, Josh Hart and Kris Jenkins – scored 13 points apiece in the 64-59 victory over Kansas in the South Region final last Saturday which pushed the Wildcats into the Final Four for the fifth time in school history and the second time under coach Jay Wright, who also led his 2009 team to the national semifinals. These teams met Dec. 7 in Hawaii and the Sooners rolled 78-55 behind 19 points from Isaiah Cousins and 18 from Hield.
TV: 6:09 p.m. ET, TBS
ODDS TO WIN NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIP:
Villanova – Open 20/1, Current 5/2
Oklahoma – Open 30/1, Current 7/2
LINE HISTORY: Oklahoma opened as 1-point pups versus Villanova and the line quickly moved in the direction Wildcats. Villanova move to -1.5, then to -2, before peaking at -2.5. Since then some action has come back on the Sooners moving the line to the current number of Villanova -2. Meanwhile, the total has plummeted down since opening at 150, coming all the down to 144.5. Check out the complete line history here.
WHAT SHARPS SAY: “It will be interesting to see how playing in a big football arena will affect the three-point shooting of both teams, especially since both squads rely heavily on the outside shot and will now be dealing with unusual sight lines. Both teams average 24 three-point attempts per game which equates to 42 percent of Villanova’s total field goal attempts and 40 percent of Oklahoma’s total shot attempts per game. Extreme variance in three-point shooting accounted for Oklahoma’s easy 23-point win on December 7th as a 5-point underdog when they faced Villanova in Hawaii. The Sooners shot 14-for-26 (54%) from beyond the arc, while the Wildcats were just 4-for-32 (13%). Villanova actually held a 52 percent to 41 percent shooting edge from two-point range in that game.” – Covers Expert Steve Merril.
WHAT BOOKS SAY: “We haven’t had to move off our number of Villanova -2 as we are seeing great two way action on both sides of the line with just over 50 percent on Villanova to cover the 2-point spread against Oklahoma. The 145.5 point total has just over 60 percent of the action on the Over.” – Michael Stewart of CarbonGaming.
ABOUT VILLANOVA (33-5, 19-17-1 ATS, 19-17-1 O/U): Coach Jay Wright knows his team was already manhandled by the Sooners and is well aware of the fact that Houston is not too far from the Oklahoma campus, but he saw his team knock off the favored Jayhawks last week and said he feels he has another positive development on his side. “When we played Oklahoma earlier this season, Jalen (Brunson) was starting for the first time, Kris and Josh were starting for the first time,” Wright told reporters earlier this week. “We were an inexperienced team and it really showed, so I think we are a much more experienced team now.” That trio combined to go 1-of-16 from 3-point range against Oklahoma, but have posted a collective 42.6 percent mark from beyond the arc in the tournament.
ABOUT OKLAHOMA (29-7, 14-20 ATS, 15-19 O/U): Guard Jordan Woodard has been the best of the supporting cast for Hield by averaging 16.8 points, while Cousins has struggled of late with a total of 13 points on 5-of-21 shooting over the last two games. Hield hit 8-of-13 3-pointers versus Oregon and has taken at least 10 triples in eight of his last 14 contests. The Wildcats will need to be on their game early as the Sooners have outscored their four tournament opponents by an average of 14.3 points in the first half.
* Villanova is 4-0 ATS in its last four neutral site games.
* Oklahoma is 3-7 ATS in its last 10 NCAA Tournament games.
* Under is 8-1 in Villanova’s last nine games versus Big 12 opponents.
* Under is 12-2 in Oklahoma’s last 14 games overall.
COVERS CONSENSUS: Bettors are giving the slight edge to Villanova in this mathchup of No. 2 seeds, with 52 percent of wagers on the Wildcats. As for the total, 68 percent of wagers are on the over.
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