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Saint Mary’s travels cross-country to face defending champ Villanova

Phil Booth Saint Mary’s vs Villanova Betting Odds Preview NCAA Tournament March Madness

The No. 11 Saint Mary’s Gaels’ reward for upsetting Gonzaga in the West Coast Conference championship game is a first-round matchup in Hartford, Connecticut against the kings of the Big East and the defending national champion, No. 6 Villanova. Before its three-game tournament win streak, Villanova had lost four of its past six games and is a shaky 20-14 against the spread this season. Saint Mary’s has suffered only two losses since February – both to Gonzaga – and is 19-14 against the spread this season.

The Wildcats opened as 4-point favorites, but early bettors pushed the line to Villanova -6 late Sunday and the spread moved to -6.5 Monday. The point total opened at 129 and is now 131.

Saint Mary’s vs Villanova Game Center

STANDOUT STATS

  • After averaging 72.9 points per game on the season, Saint Mary’s has only scored 70 or more points once over its past nine games and averaged just 61.9 points per game during that stretch. Are the Gaels running out of gas late in the season?
  • With this known, it’s no surprise the UNDER has hit in eight of Saint Mary’s last nine games with an average total of 119.4.
  • Villanova has averaged nearly 70 points per game over its past nine and the total has gone over in each of its last four games with an average combined score of 143.2.
  • The Wildcats will need to lean on their 53.4 effective field-goal percentage because the Gaels clean the glass. Saint Mary’s allows the second-fewest opponent rebounds per game – 29.1.
  • Saint Mary’s is just 1-4 against Sagarin’s Top 25 and 1-5 against his Top 50 college basketball programs this season.
  • Villanova has failed to cover in back-to-back games and in five of eight, but is 5-1 ATS in its last six after consecutive ATS losses.
  • The Wildcats need to stay out of foul trouble as they typically only go seven players deep, while Saint Mary’s features eight players who average double-digit minutes per game AND have appeared in 30 or more games.
  • Dating back to 1998, No. 6 seeds who are favored by 6 or more points are just 6-14 against the spread. No. 6 seeds are also just 11-9 straight up against No. 11s overall over the past 20 meetings.
  • Saint Mary’s is 3-0 straight up in its last three first-round NCAA Tournament games, but 1-3 against the spread in its last four tournament games overall.
  • Villanova is 5-0 SU and 4-1 ATS in its last five first-round games of the NCAA Tournament.

MY LEAN

Villanova -6.5

Villanova lost a ton of talent to the NBA and graduation last season and yet found a way to win another Big East championship. The Wildcats are 9-1 straight up and 7-3 against the spread when favored by 6 or more points this season. While they may not possess the talent to reach Minneapolis, they do possess a relative home game, while the Gaels have to hop on a bird and travel to the other side of the country to extend their season one more game.

Saint Mary’s posted a 1-5 record as an underdog this season and I truly believe the Gaels’ offensive regression is a sign of late-season fatigue where their one shining moment was upsetting Gonzaga in the WCC title game. I’ll take the Wildcats -6.5.

Reason To Fade Fowler: Saint Mary’s is 5-1 SU and 6-0 ATS in its last six games vs the Big East.

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