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Virginia

vs.

Villanova

College Basketball Pick

1/29/16

The most headlined game this weekend is Kansas-Kentucky, but Virginia-Villanova should get a similar amount of attention when the two meet Sunday. Both teams have been at the top of their respective conferences for a few years now and that's the case again with both teams in the top 12. Villanova has the obvious edge playing at home and that could be what the final difference is.

Both teams had tough midweek tests as Nova traveled to Marquette and Virginia went to Notre Dame. Villanova gave up a late lead and lost, while Virginia stopped a great offense from scoring more than 54 points. Nova has the edge in this matchup, solely based on home-court advantage. To go with that, Villanova is the No. 1 team in the country and is likely on its way to another Big East title. Despite losses to Butler and Marquette, they already have wins over the likes of Creighton and Xavier, while also beating Notre Dame and Purdue in non-conference.

It hasn't been as easy for Virginia this season without Malcolm Brogdon. The Cavaliers lost their most difficult non-conference test (West Virginia, but do have ACC wins over Louisville and Notre Dame. In the ACC, Virginia has the ability to pick up solid win every night and this game would help that even further. As usual, easier said than done.

This is a battle between one of the best offenses and one of the best defenses in the nation. In ACC against good offenses, Virginia has been able to slow down every opponent, which has led to its continued success. But this Villanova team is a bit different, with its usual balance. The one minor issue the Wildcats have had is turning the ball over and that would be one way Virginia can find an edge.

The problem for the Hoos is that Villanova has a lineup full of athletes starting with Josh Hart, the current favorite to win National Player of the Year. Whenever the Wildcats have their backs up against the wall, Hart usually comes through, from scoring 37 points against Notre Dame to 30 against Wake Forest. Hart would like to do similar things against another ACC team here, but this will be his toughest task with Virginia's pack-line defense. Virginia can use that defense because of its length and ability to get in front of ball handlers.

London Perrantes runs the show and has picked it up as of late while Marial Shayok and Devon Hall will both be asked to produce, as well. The one thing that could cost Virginia in this game is its inability to get offensive rebounds. Villanova has the most efficient defense in the Big East and without offensive rebounding, it will take an efficient night from Perrantes and company to win this game. But that's where the problem is as Virginia doesn't have any knockdown shooters, which means it'll need to find some kind of presence in the paint between Isaiah Wilkins and Jack Salt.

Villanova's true weakness is in size, but that's kind of where Virginia struggles as well, as Salt isn't someone to rely on as seen in his 4.3 points and 3.8 rebounds per game. While the Hoos are a bit more spread out in their scoring, the Wildcats still have Jalen Brunson, another top talent to worry about, as well as shooter Kris Jenkins and Mikal Bridges.

Virginia is always a tough team to predict because of the defense it plays and whether its opponent can have success against it. But as it stands, there's no reason to doubt that Hart and Brunson won't be able to score in this game, which gives the overall edge to the Wildcats, especially at home.

Our Pick - Villanova by 2

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