2021 NCAA Tournament Odds, Betting Picks & Predictions: Villanova vs. Winthrop (March 19)

2021 NCAA Tournament Odds, Betting Picks & Predictions: Villanova vs. Winthrop (March 19) article feature image
Credit:

Michael Hickey/Getty Images. Pictured: Jermaine Samuels (23), Caleb Daniels (14), and Justin Moore (5).

  • Villanova is favored over Winthrop in Friday night's NCAA Tournament first round, but has the market overreacted to Collin Gillespie's injury?
  • Our college basketball analysts think so, and they're taking the Wildcats on Friday as a result.
  • Get our full preview and Villanova vs. Winthrop pick below.

Villanova vs. Winthrop Odds

Villanova Odds -6.5
Winthrop Odds +6.5
Moneyline -275 / +220
Over/Under 143.5
Time Friday, 8:57 p.m. ET
TV TNT
Odds as of Friday and via DraftKings

The entire country has jumped ship on the Villanova Wildcats after they went 0-2 since losing Collin Gillespie to a season-ending knee injury.

The nation might not be wrong, as the Wildcats’ offense is much less efficient without him on the floor.

However, they still have one of the top coaches in the country leading the program in Jay Wright, along with a potential All-American in Jeremiah Robinson-Earl.

This Villanova roster is filled with 3-point shooters, functioning in an offensive scheme that prioritizes clean shots from behind the arc that make the Wildcats a tough out for anyone.

Villanova will match up with Winthrop, which finished the season at 23-1 and as Big South champion. The Eagles are a long, athletic group that can beat you in multiple ways on the offensive end of things.

The major question mark for Winthrop is whether it can play against the nation’s top teams. The Eagles’ schedule involved just one team ranked inside the top 100, so they’ll be taking a major step up in class getting Villanova right out of the gate.

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Villanova Wildcats

Kyle Remillard: Villanova went from one of the favorites to win the NCAA Tournament to being one of the most public first-round upset picks in the span of two weeks.

The Wildcats finished the season at 16-6 after dropping three of their final four games to Butler, Providence, and Georgetown. A big part of that was due to the loss of Gillespie, who tore his ACL in a win over Creighton late in the season.

Justin Moore replaced Gillespie as the starting point guard and finished with 24 points, five boards, and five assists before going out with an ankle injury. Moore is still questionable for the tournament, and it’s important to keep a close eye on his status.

Jeremiah Robinson-Earl will need to take on a more prominent role offensively for the Wildcats. This could be Robinson-Earl’s coming out party as he has been a beast all season, averaging 15.7 points and 8.3 rebounds.

He scored 26 points on 9-of-13 shooting in the Big East Tournament against Georgetown. I expect a similar stat line throughout the tournament for him and believe he should be getting more national attention.

Jermaine Samuels and Caleb Daniels have been 3-point snipers all season. Samuels has converted on 40.3% from behind the arc, and Daniels has hit 39.6% of his 96 3-point attempts.

The Wildcats own the ninth-ranked offensive efficiency rating this season, scoring 119.3 points per 100 possessions. They take care of the basketball and rank third nationally, turning it over on only 13.5% of their possessions.

Everyone looks for the traditional 12-seed upsetting a 5-seed and turns to this game as the Wildcats are without Gillespie. But many people may be counting out Jay Wright, who is one of the best coaches in the country.

Winthrop Eagles

Andrew Norton: The Winthrop Eagles have found themselves in the NCAA Tournament after an extremely dominant season in the Big South. As a matter of fact, they were only one two-point loss away from being undefeated going into the tournament, and that is a substantial accomplishment.

Led by do-it-all forward Chandler Vaudrin, who is averaging 12.2 points, 7.2 rebounds, and 6.9 assists per game, the Eagles will look to knock off No. 5 seed Villanova.

Vaudrin is putting up NBA triple-double equivalent stats and provides a certain spark for the Eagles’ offense that very few players in college can.

However, Winthrop is not overwhelming on offense or defense, as it ranks 120th and 69th in adjusted offensive and adjusted defensive efficiency, respectively.

Despite its slight lack in offensive efficiency, the Eagles average the 19th-most team points per game in the nation, per TeamRankings, with 79.5 points.

Through their past three games, they have put an average of 81.7 points on the board. If annualized for the basketball season, that would stick them firmly in a tie for eighth in the nation.

What helps them put up points is not their shooting percentage, but their 11.2 offensive rebounds per game, per TeamRankings, which ranks 14th overall. As a team, they are hoarders on the boards at both ends, and that will certainly help them in a potential tournament run.

Winthrop has a chance at stealing this game from the Wildcats, but it’s going to require an all-around near-perfect game from the Eagles.

They will need to lock in defensively and hit the boards hard. Great outside shooting will also be a necessity for them in order to put up the points required to win a game of this magnitude and live to see another day.

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Matchup & Betting Analysis

Kyle Remillard: This Winthrop team is more than capable of upsetting Villanova in the first round, but I’m not buying it. Robinson-Earl should be able to exploit his mismatch all game long with his ability to score in so many ways.

Winthrop has been dominant all season but against much lesser competition. This is the first step-up in class and the Wildcats are better equipped to handle Vaudrin and Burns better than anything he saw in the Big South this year.

Everyone already counting the Wildcats out of this tournament is only providing more bulletin board material for Wright.

Don’t count out the Cats quite yet. I’m laying the six points in what I feel is an overreaction to the Gillespie injury.

I make this game closer to Villanova -8 and see value in fading the public underdog.

Pick: Villanova -6 (Play up to -7).

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