Villanova took a few hits against West Virginia, but is in the Elite 8 with the best odds along with Duke to win it all. The Wildcats have come through when needed due to shooting and that’ll have to be the case again with Texas Tech in its first Elite 8 ever. The Wildcats were early -6.5 point favorites at 5Dimes Sportsbook for the Game in Boston.
Villanova wasn’t really challenged in its first two Games and then needed a late push to get by West Virginia in the Sweet 16. since Phil Booth returned to the starting lineup, this team still hasn’t lost, which shows how important he is after playing 34 minutes against the Mountaineers. Once again their top-rated offense shined through when it mattered most with Jalen Brunson at the head of it, creating for himself and teammates.
Texas Tech maybe had just as impressive of a performance in the win over Purdue. The Red Raiders led the entire second half and whenever the Boilers got close, they showed their muscle and wouldn’t give up the lead. Their depth has been huge in three wins with the one over Purdue maybe being the easiest of the bunch. Even the win against Stephen F. Austin wasn’t easy. This team loves to battle and that should be the case against Villanova.
The best matchup will be Villanova’s top-ranked offense against Tech’s defense, which ranks third in the country in adjusted efficiency. It will need to limit the easy looks from Brunson, but also make sure to get out and defend the three when Nova drives and kicks. That’s how the best offense in the country plays and if you can’t stop it, you can’t beat them. Offensively, the Red Raiders don’t have any noticeable advantage, although attacking the glass should be the top goal, similar to what they did against Purdue (11 offensive boards).
Depth should be plenty useful for Chris Beard because he can turn to at least 10 guys in order to find the right mix. His first order is finding someone to deal with Brunson after Carsen Edwards torched Tech for 30 points in the Sweet 16 Game. The lanky Jarrett Culver could start out on him with Zhaire Smith or even Justin Gray getting time on Brunson. Down low, Tech has a few guys to use against Omari Spellman, who is mostly a guy that sits on the perimeter after making Four threes last Game. Tommy Hamilton, Zach Smith and Norense Odiase may not be able to shoot as well, but all can defend the perimeter.
The other positions are just as key for the Red Raiders because Villanova has a scorer at every position. Mikal Bridges is a possible NBA lottery pick and Tech will need to find someone to throw at him, which could end up being anyone on the roster. OUtside of Keenan Evans and Davide Moretti, the Raiders can use any of their guys to defend Nova’s bigger players.
But to win this Game, the Raiders need more on the offensive end, similar to how they carved up Purdue. Evans doesn’t really turn his Game on until late, but that may not cut it in this matchup. That said, they have a lot of players that can get points. Gray showed up against Purdue, while Zhaire Smith has been most consistent in the Tournament. They’ll need multiple guys to hit shots in order to win and that includes getting something out of big men Odiase, Smith and Hamilton. It’s possible Beard turns to Smith more in order to force Spellman to defend in the post.
At the end of the day, Villanova’s offense is hard to bet against. This is a team that can catch fire easily and go on runs out of nowhere with a couple steals and threes. Purdue had an efficient offense, but was clearly not the same without Isaac Haas. In addition to Evans getting his buckets, everyone else will have to step up for the Red Raiders to pull off another upset.
Our Pick – Texas Tech +6.5