College Basketball Best Bets: Will Villanova Earn Sweet 16 Revenge Vs. Baylor?

Written By Eli Hershkovich on December 12, 2021
College Basketball Best Bets

After No. 1 Purdue went down at Rutgers on Thursday, could another top-five upset be en route? No. 2 Baylor faces off against No. 6 Villanova in a Sweet 16 rematch from the 2021 NCAA Tournament, in which Scott Drew’s team overcame a seven-point halftime deficit before eventually cutting down the nets in April. Let’s break down my college basketball best bets for the matchup.

Click on the odds below to place a bet now. You can also continue the discussion in our betting community, as we dissect all of the games throughout the week.

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Villanova Wildcats at Baylor Bears

Despite the Bears’ second-half defensive dominance in their most recent meeting, the Wildcats didn’t have Collin Gillespie on the floor. The 6-foot-3 floor general tore his MCL in their regular season finale, costing him the rest of the campaign.

Gillespie represents one of the most efficient point guards in college basketball, and the lack of a veteran presence led to a discombobulated Villanova offense down the stretch.

But Scott Drew’s no-middle defense, which is predicated around limiting dribble penetration, allowed Jay Wright’s perimeter-oriented offense to generate some clean looks in that game. They shot just 6-of-17 from behind the arc, though.

After going an abysmal 13-of-50 on three-pointers in Tuesday’s win over Syracuse, expect a bounce-back showing against this set-up. With Gillespie in the lineup, the Bears’ ball pressure shouldn’t faze the Wildcats as much this time around.

Moreover, Villanova possesses the necessary gang rebounding — led by 6-foot-7 Jermaine Samuels — to limit Baylor’s second-chance shots. Drew’s frontcourt makes a living on the offensive glass, tallying the ninth-highest near-proximity percentage (lay-ups, dunks and tip-ins via Haslametrics) in the process.

The Wildcats will be less rushed offensively, playing at a more methodical pace as a result, if Wright’s group delivers on the glass against Jonathan Tchamwa Tchatchoua, Flo Thamba & Co.

Regarding the total, it should stay under if the above facets come to fruition. Otherwise, the Bears’ transition opportunities could push it the other direction.

Overall, expect Villanova to come out with vengeance on its mind and hang within two possessions. The market created some value after the spread opened at Baylor -3.5.

Eli’s Bet: Villanova +5.5 (placed on Saturday night at BetMGM Sportsbook)
College Basketball Best Bets: Villanova +4 or better
Best Available Line: Villanova

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Eli Hershkovich

Eli Hershkovich is a lead sports betting writer with TheLines and Catena Media, formerly with Audacy and The Action Network. His goal is to provide you with data and information to lead you to winning bets. Eli is an avid college basketball gambler — among many other sports — and still hasn't forgiven Virginia for ruining his 2018-2019 Texas Tech futures.

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