This was the matchup most people were hoping for in the second round. No. 1-seed Villanova going against a likely NBA lottery draft pick in Collin Sexton and Alabama. The Wildcats had no problems in their first Game and opened as an -11 point favorite at 5Dimes Sportsbook for the Game in Pittsburgh.
There was zero doubt of Villanova winning its first-round Game against Radford as it had six guys reach double digits and then two more with seven and nine points. The Wildcats went a ridiculous 14-of-27 from three with a lot of those being open looks.
It was a little different for Alabama against Virginia Tech, although it got the lead with about eight minutes to go and never gave it up. However, the Tide will have to play much better defense in this Game because they let the Hokies Score1.20 points per possession and go 50 percent from long range. If you can’t stop Virginia Tech from scoring, you can’t stop an offense that’s rated most efficient in the country.
That said, Alabama actually has a solid defense according to the numbers, ranking in the top-20 in adjusted efficiency and No. 1 in the SEC. The problem for Alabama has been scoring at a consistent rate. In its five-Game losing streak to end the regular season, it failed to surpass 73 points. Of course, the Tide have scored more than 80 in two of their last three and if you don’t Scoreagainst Villanova, you’ll lose.
Either way, the matchups will be fun to watch. Sexton is the type of player to take a matchup personally and with Jalen Brunson one of the favorites to win National Player of the Year, expect Sexton to try and lock him down. The same goes for everyone else on the Tide because they have the size and athleticism to match Villanova at every position. OUtside of Sexton, every relevant player comes in at more than 6-foot-3 so that should help in trying to guard Mikal Bridges and Eric Paschall. Omari Spellman can cause matchup issues due to his ability to knock down threes, but Donta Hall is an athletic center that isn’t giving up anything in this matchup.
The question will be what Alabama can do offensively. In addition to Sexton, one or two more players have to do something and last Game that was John Petty, who hit six threes. OUtside of them, Hall was the next leading scorer with 10 points. Beating Villanova requires multiple guys to make shots and that’s where Herbert Jones and Dazon Ingram come in.
This Villanova team ranked tops in the Big East in terms of defensive efficiency, but isn’t built the same way as previous versions and isn’t a good rebounding team. Nova’s best defensive trait may be three-point defense, but that may not matter in the end because that’s one of Bama’s weak spots. The Tide don’t have a major post presence, but Hall is still a guy that can Scoredown low and has had some 20-point Games this season.
Alabama isn’t coming off a good defensive performance, but it has the bodies to deal with the multitude of offensive weapons that Villanova has. The Tide have nothing to lose in this situation and if Sexton can match whatever Brunson does, this Game should at least be close simply because Alabama matches up so well defensively.
Our Pick – Alabama +11