(9) Alabama Crimson Tide (20-15) vs (1) Villanova Wildcats (31-4)
Where and when: PPG Paints Arena, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, Friday, 12:10 pm EST
An East division 2nd round showdown between the 9th seeded Alabama Crimson Tide and the 1st seeded Villanova Wildcats will take place at PPG Paints Arena in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, at 12:10 pm EST. The last meeting between these two teams date back to 11/16/2012, where Alabama took the 77-55 win at Madison Square Garden in the finals game of the 2k Classic. Alabama broke the game open in the second half by outscoring the Wildcats 48-29 en route to the huge victory. For the game, the Tide was on fire shooting 56.8% from the field and 60% from 3-point range (9 of 15). On the other hand, the Wildcats were held to only 31.9% shooting from the field and 31.2% from 3-point range. Alabama won the rebounding battle by a margin of 31-25 while committing 14 turnovers compared to 13 for the Wildcats. The Tide won the game despite shooting 58.1% from the free throw line (18 of 31) compared to 76.9% for the Wildcats (20 of 26).
The Alabama Crimson Tide come into this matchup winners of 3 of their last 5 games (4-1 ATS). In their last outing, they were 86-83 winners versus a tough Virginia Tech squad on Thursday night. As 2.5-point underdogs, they were able to cash in on the spread in this matchup. The Tide has proven to be a dangerous team and will be motivated to compete against a 1st place Wildcats squad.
The Villanova Wildcats come into this matchup winners of their last 5 games (4-1 ATS). In their last outing, they dominated Radford on their way to an 87-61 1st round win on Thursday night. As 22.5-point favorites, they were able to cover the spread in this matchup. As usual, the Wildcats will certainly bring their A game for the task that awaits them.
Alabama Edges Hokies in Tight Contest
Though the Hokies went in at the half up by 2, they were outscored 45-40 in the second half to fall to a dangerous Alabama Crimson Tide team by a score of 86-83 on Thursday night in the 1st round of the East division of the NCAA tournament held at PPG Paints Arena in Pittsburgh. Both teams were on fire from the field as the Tide shot 60% from the field and 44.4% from 3-point range while the Hokies shot 55.6% from the field and 50% from 3-point range. Alabama held the edge in rebounding by a margin of 25-19 yet committed 15 turnovers compared to 13 for the Hokies. The Tide won this game despite shooting only 66.7% from the free throw line (18 of 27) while Virginia Tech shot 70% (14 of 20) for the night. Justin Robinson had 19 points in the loss for the Hokies while Collin Sexton had 25 for the Crimson Tide. John Petty also chipped in 20 points in the win.
Offensively, the Crimson Tide averages 72.7 points per game (206th) on 46.2% shooting from the field (96th) and 32.8% from 3-point range (293rd). They also shoot an average of 67.2% from the free throw line (307th) while grabbing 35.9 rebounds per outing (140th).
Collin Sexton is the leading scorer and playmaker for the Alabama Crimson Tide averaging 19.2 points, 3.8 rebounds, 3.6 assists per game. Donta Hall and John Petty are also essential to the Tide offensive attack averaging 10.9 points, 6.7 rebounds and 10.4 points, 2.6 rebounds. Dazon Ingram also chips in 9.9 points, 5.7 rebounds, respectively.
Defensively, Alabama permits its opponents to score an average of 70.3 points per game (123rd) on 41.6% shooting from the field (53rd) and 32.3% from 3-point range (36th). Lastly, they allow teams to pull down 32 rebounds per game (186th).
Radford No Real Test for the Wildcats
The Wildcats went into the half up big (44-23) and outscored the Highlanders 43-38 in the second half en route to the huge 87-61 1st round victory at PPG Paints Arena in Pittsburgh on Thursday. Villanova shot outstanding from the field (59.6%) as well as from 3-point range (51.9%). On the other hand, Radford was limited to only 34.5% shooting from the field and 34.8% from 3-point range. Radford did, however, held a slim edge in rebounding by a 30-29 margin and each team committed 13 turnovers apiece for the game. Jalen Brunson was the leading scorer for the Wildcats with 16 points, while Donald Hicks had 13 for the Highlanders in the loss.
Offensively, the Wildcats average 87.1 points per game (1st) on 50.4% shooting from the field (5th) and 39.8% from 3-point range (20th). They also average 77.1% from the free throw line (20th) while pulling down 35.5 rebounds per game (169th).
Jalen Brunson (19.4 ppg, 3.1 rebs, 4.9 ass), Mikal Bridges (18 ppg, 5.4 rebs), and Donte DiVencenzo (13.1 ppg, 4.6 rebs, 3.2 ass) are the leading double-digit performers for Villanova. Phil Booth and Omari Spellman are also key contributors to the offense averaging 10.9 points, 3 rebounds and 10.7 points, 7.9 rebounds per game. Eric Paschall chips in 10.2 points, 5.1 rebounds per game as well.
Defensively, the Wildcats are allowing opponents to score an average of 70.9 points per game (140th) on 43.4% shooting from the field (149th) and 32.8% from 3-point range (56th). Lastly, they permit teams to grab 28,7 rebounds per outing (30th).
- The Tide are 7-6 ATS in last 13 games
- The Tide are 17-19 ATS in last 36 neutral site games
- The Tide are 10-6 ATS in last 16 games following a SU win of 5 points or less
- The Wildcats are 7-2 ATS in last 9 neutral site games
- The Wildcats are 9-4 ATS in last 13 games
- The Wildcats are 6-2 ATS following a SU win in which they allowed 65 points or less
This matchup will be one of the more interesting 2nd round games in the tournament. On one hand, you have Alabama who continues to peak at the right time with their do-it-all All-Star Collin Sexton leading the way. On the other hand, you have the defending national champs Villanova Wildcats who specialize in offensive and defensive efficiency. When one considers how outstanding the Wildcats are on both sides of the ball, despite victories this season over Auburn, Florida, and Tennessee, this contest will indeed be the toughest test that the Tide will have to embark upon all season. I tip my hat to the Tide who have really worked hard in becoming one of the more dangerous teams in their respective conference this season, but, Villanova is a very, very tough nut to crack. They play a composed and consistent style of play night in and night out. While I anticipate Alabama having some runs here and there, I expect the Wildcats to recover and ultimately take control of this game. Pick Villanova to advance in what will be a very exciting contest.