Today's Free Picks for
Posted at 1:00 PM EST.
Sweet 16 of the NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament - TD Garden - Boston, Massachusetts
4:25 PM EST. Villanova looked like a true #1-seed after the first two games of this tournament and remain just one of two number one seeds remaining. 'Nova blasted #16 Radford, as they should have, and then followed that up with a 23-point beat down of Alabama. The Wildcats were given a much easier path to the Final Four than either Virginia or Xavier, but the smooth sailing stops now. As the top seed in this tournament and the #1-team in the nation, you are undoubtedly going to pay a premium to back Villanova tonight. There aren't many teams left that the market can trust and this relatively small number makes the Wildcats even more appealing, as they've already won a pair of games by more than 20-points each.
The mantra goes, "defense wins championships". Enter the Mountaineers of West Virginia. Head coach, Bob Huggins' teams have long been dubbed "Press Virginia" for their high octane, full-court defensive attack. This year has been no different, as the Mountaineers limited their opponents to 69 points per game this season. In the NCAA's, WVU has knocked off both Murray State and in-state rivals Marshall with senior guard Jevon Carter leading the way offensively. In the first two games, Carter is averaging 24.5 points, 6.5 assists, 5.5 steals and 4.5 rebounds, while shooting 54.3% from the field. He also joined the legendary Jerry West as the only Mountaineers player with four career 20-point games in The Big Dance. This is the second straight year Huggins’ team has made it to the Sweet 16 after falling to #1 Gonzaga last season 61-58, but you may remember WVU had three different shots to tie the game in the final seconds and actually led 58-55 with 1:47 before going cold. This is not unfamiliar territory for a group that has paid its dues. WVU plays in the pound-for-pound best conference in college hoops and with four Big-12 teams still standing, the proof is in the pudding. An all Big-12 East Region final is also on the table if Texas Tech upsets Purdue. This is being dubbed as a battle between offense and defense, but the Mountaineers can hang with 'Nova, as their offense ranks 10th in the nation in adjusted efficiency. West Virginia is as complete a team as you'll still find in this tournament so any points with them has to be strongly considered. Inflated points must be accepted.
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West Virginia +5½ -110 (Risking 2.2 units - To Win: 2.00)