NCAA Basketball Game Preview: Michigan vs. Villanova

Mar 24, 2022

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Game: Michigan Wolverines @ Villanova Wildcats 

Time: 7:29 p.m. ET 

Odds:  Wolverines +5, Wildcats -5 

Total: 135 

It’s a rematch of the 2018 national championship game, one that Villanova won. The Wildcats will be looking to dispose of Michigan once again tonight in a Sweet Sixteen game. There were many that argued that the Wolverines didn’t even belong in this year’s tournament, but here they are in the Sweet Sixteen for the fifth consecutive season.  

The Wolverines are a heavy pick-and-roll team and they are very good at running it. Villanova is even better at it ranking No. 8 in the nation in adjusted offensive efficiency. They also rank 27th in pick-and-roll frequency. The problem for Michigan is that they do not defend the pick-and-roll as well as Villanova does. The Wolverines rank in the 29th percentile in pick-and-roll defense.  

The Wildcats will also likely use their bigger guards to post up on Michigan’s backcourt. The Wolverines guards are both 6-1 which will make it difficult. Michigan will have to rely on its big man Hunter Dickinson on both ends of the floor. The sophomore was the difference in Michigan’s upset of Tennessee when he scored 27 points and grabbed 11 rebounds. Villanova doesn’t really have anyone that can match up with Dickinson, so he will be the key for Michigan if they are to pull another upset. 

Villanova has won its last seven games in a row. The Wildcats are 4-2 ATS in their last six games. Michigan was upset by Indiana in the Big Ten tournament then beat Colorado State before the upset of Tennessee. The Wolverines have now won four of their last six games. They are also 4-2 ATS in those six games. 

Michigan has been a solid team to back when playing as the underdog. The Wolverines are 5-1 ATS in their last six games as the underdog. Michigan is 5-4 SU as an underdog. The Wolverines and Wildcats have only played three times ever. All three times, Michigan has been the underdog.  

Villanova lost a year ago to eventual national champion Baylor in the tournament. The Wildcats beat Delaware and Ohio State to advance to the Sweet Sixteen. They have a great opportunity to get to the Final Four with Tennessee out and No. 1 seed Arizona showing some vulnerability in an overtime win over TCU last Sunday. Interestingly, the Wildcats have made Elite Eight appearances in even-numbered years. Head coach Jay Wright guided Villanova to the Elite Eight in 2016 and 2018. The Wildcats went on to win the national championship in both years. 

Michigan trends Over with a 20-14-1 O/U record for the season. Six of their last seven games have gone Over the total. The Under is 4-1 in the last five Villanova games and 4-1 in the last five games where the Wildcats have been the favorite. Villanova ranks 348th in average possession length and their transition defense is among the best in the nation. In their first two tournament games, they had just 61 and 59 possessions. The three games these two teams have played have averaged right around 125 points. 

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