Baylor vs. Villanova Projected Odds: Our Spread, Total for NCAA Tournament Sweet 16
Mitchell Layton/Getty Images. Pictured: Davion Mitchell.
#1 Baylor vs. #5 Villanova Odds
How Arkansas & Villanova Match Up
|All stats via KenPom.|
What To Know About Baylor
For most of the season, most considered Baylor and Gonzaga as the two best teams in the country with almost no difference between them from a power ratings perspective. That has since changed as Baylor has dropped a few games, while Gonzaga has remained undefeated.
What happened to the Bears? Unfortunately, they had to deal with extreme COVID-19 issues inside the program, which led to a long pause in activities. Since they’ve returned, the Bears just haven’t been the same team, especially on the defensive end. Baylor has just looked much slower on that end and has been much more vulnerable off the dribble and in transition.
Can the Bears regain their pre-COVID form? That’s the primary question heading into the tournament after suffering a loss in the Big 12 semis to Oklahoma State. If it can, you can put it back in Gonzaga’s neighborhood. If not, Bryce Drew’s squad can still certainly make a run, especially if they keep shooting a nation-leading 41.8% from distance for an offense that is also elite on the offensive glass and can score in many different ways.
If not, they will be in some exciting, high-variance shootouts and will have to fight to get through the second weekend. — Stuckey
What To Know About Villanova
Villanova endured a three-week COVID-19 pause in early January and has never really regained its early-season form. Head coach Jay Wright’s squad was prolific on offense throughout the season, finishing first in conference play in adjusted-offensive efficiency, first in offensive turnover percentage, and first in free-throw efficiency (78.4%). Then, injuries hit with a torn MCL to Collin Gillespie and an ankle injury to Justin Moore.
Villanova does feature three other players that shoot 38% or better from 3-point range, highlighted by Caleb Daniels (39.4% on 94 attempts) and Cole Swider (38.2% on 76 attempts). And it does appear that Justin Moore will be good to go for the tournament.
However, trying to reinvent the wheel for such a complex offense without Gilespie (whose leadership will also be sorely missed) likely lowers the ceiling for this Villanova team tremendously. In the two games since Gillespie went down, Villanova lost to Providence and Georgetown.
I’m sure Jay Wright will cook up some new looks prior to the tournament, but there’s only so much he can do and those two results don’t inspire much hope for any sort of significant run in the dance.
Another concerning issue is the Wildcats’ surprisingly poor defense, ranking last in effective field goal percentage allowed and ninth in both 3-point percentage and 2-point percentage allowed in their 15 Big East games. They are especially vulnerable in the interior against very physical teams. — Mike Randle