Purdue vs. Villanova Betting Guide: Could Defending Champs Go Home on the First Weekend?

Purdue vs. Villanova Betting Guide: Could Defending Champs Go Home on the First Weekend? article feature image
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Photo credit: USA Today Sports. Pictured: Carsen Edwards and Jermaine Samuels

#3 Purdue vs. #6 Villanova NCAA Tournament Betting Odds

  • Spread: Purdue -3.5
  • Over/Under: 137
  • Date: Saturday, March 23
  • Time: 8:40 p.m. ET
  • TV: TNT
  • Location: Hartford, Conn.

>> All odds as of Saturday morning. Download The Action Network App to get real-time odds and live win probabilities on your bets.


We have now arrived at the business portion of the tournament, and this is one of the best matchups on Saturday’s slate. Purdue will try to take out the defending champs and prevent them from getting a ridiculous third title in four years. To put that into perspective, Purdue has never won a national championship and has appeared in only two Final Fours (none since 1980).

Let’s take a closer look at this matchup between two teams that have a lot in common.

When Villanova Has the Ball

It’s Villanova, so you know where we have to start. The Cats are one of the most 3-point reliant teams in the country with a 3-point rate that is even high for a Jay Wright team. In fact, only two other teams in D-1 shot more 3s per field goal attempt during the regular season.

We naturally have to next look at the Purdue perimeter defense. Well, while Saint Mary’s hardly ever allowed 3s (one of the reasons we bet the Gaels), Purdue does.

St. Mary’s allowed an opponent 3-point rate of 31.8% — the ninth-lowest in the country and second-lowest among teams in the NCAA Tournament field. Purdue is at 42.8% — 300th nationally and fifth-most among all tournament teams. 

The Cats should also generate great looks from the outside after misses. Purdue can be exposed on the offensive glass, as seen in the Old Dominion game. The difference is Villanova will make the shots that Old Dominion didn’t when open. If Purdue doesn’t rebound better than it has lately (ninth in the Big Ten in opponent offensive rebounding percentage, per KenPom), Villanova will crush them on kick-outs and crisp ball movement to hit wide-open 3s.

Villanova will get its 3-point looks — although having a healthy Nojel Eastern will help Purdue tremendously on the defensive end.

Other Factors to Consider

These teams are actually very similar on the offensive end. Villanova just wants to chuck from beyond the arc, and that’s exactly what Purdue’s Carsen Edwards and Ryan Cline want to do as well. And you can get perimeter looks against this Villanova defense.

Both squads are snails. Nova more so than Purdue, but neither is a speed-racer. That said, I actually think the over/under is a tad low, especially considering both teams have capable 3-point shooters and should get plenty of open looks in a gym they both just played in. I’d make it 140, which means 137 warrants a bet.

In regards to the side, I’ve been lower on Villanova than the market for weeks now — and, fortunately, that has paid off. That’s the case once again, but it’s not by a material amount. I’d make this Purdue -4.5, which might not be enough to pull the trigger on 3.5 in a game that will essentially swing on 3-point variance (see: Phil Booth’s banked-in 3 late vs. St. Mary’s).

Fading the Big East has been a profitable strategy this tournament, and I think the last remaining team from that conference goes down today. But I will just wait to see if I can get a live line of PK or better on the Boilermakers in a game that should have plenty of runs.

Stuckey’s Pick: Over 137

Our Projected Odds: Purdue vs. Villanova

Get point spreads for this game and every possible tournament matchup with our bracket simulator built by Sean Koerner, our Director of Predictive Analytics, a former oddsmaker and FantasyPros’ most accurate in-season fantasy football ranker from 2015-2017.

  • Spread: Purdue -4.5
  • Over/Under: 141
  • Score: Purdue 73 | Villanova 68.5
  • Win Probability: Purdue 66% | Villanova 34%

Editor’s note: The opinions on this game is from the individual writer and are based on his research, analysis and perspective. They are independent of, and may not always match with, the algorithm-driven Best Bets from Sports Insights.

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