Pa. Sports Bettors Find Jay Wright and Villanova Back in Sweet 16

Pa. Sports Bettors Find Jay Wright and Villanova Back in Sweet 16

By Lou Monaco

Fact Checked by Pat McLoone

All those interested in Pennsylvania sports betting and college hoops find themselves in a familiar position this week.

March Madness continues Thursday night with the Sweet 16 and Villanova still alive. It will be two storied programs meeting in the South Regional semifinal as the second-seeded Wildcats square off against 11th-seeded Michigan in San Antonio (TBS, 7:29 p.m.).

At BetMGM, Villanova is currently a 4.5-point favorite over Michigan (19-14) and is a -225 moneyline favorite, having opened up at -200. The Wolverines are +180 on the moneyline, after opening as a +165 moneyline underdog. The over/under total points stands at 135.5.

Over at DraftKings, Villanova is currently a 5-point favorite (-225 moneyline). Michigan is a +185 moneyline underdog with total points at 136.

Wildcats at a Glance

Villanova, the Big East Conference Tournament champion, upended seventh-seeded Ohio State, 71-61, Sunday to advance to its third consecutive Sweet 16 appearance. The Wildcats opened their run Friday by beating Delaware, 80-60.

The Wildcats have the complete package, both on offense and defense. Big East Player of the Year Collin Gillespie is a premier point guard and leader, who does everything on the court.

Junior guard Justin Moore is a great complement to Gillespie and can be explosive on offense. Forwards Brandon Slater, Jermaine Samuels and Eric Dixon and guard Caleb Dixon (10.3 points off the bench) complete a team that has won 21 of its last 24 games since a Dec. 17 blowout loss at Creighton.

Coach Jay Wright is a Hall of Famer who took Villanova to titles in 2016 and 2018. The game also has an interesting subplot, as Wright goes up against Phil Martelli, an assistant to Juwan Howard with Michigan. Wright and Martelli battled for years in Philadelphia, when Martelli was head coach at St. Joseph’s.

The Wildcats upended the Wolverines, 79-62, in the 2018 national championship game. Seven months later, Michigan returned the favor in a 73-46 road victory in the 2018 Gavitt Games on Nov. 14.

Wolverines at a Glance

Michigan makes its fifth consecutive trip to the Sweet 16 after a 76-68 upset victory over No. 3 Tennessee. The Wolverines trailed at halftime, but shot 50% from the field in the second half to secure the win.

Big man Hunter Dickinson leads the way for Michigan, averaging 24 points and 8.5 rebounds per game. He figures to pose a problem for Wright and his undersized squad. Dickinson posted his 10th double-double of the season against Tennessee with 27 points and 11 rebounds.

Guard Eli Brooks has averaged 19.5 points per game for the Wolverines, who are playing with a lot of confidence right now. Brooks had 23 points and five assists against Tennessee.

This season, the Wolverines have hit half of their shots in 16 games, winning 13 of them, including two straight in the NCAA Tournament. Michigan beat sixth-seeded Colorado State, 75-63, in its NCAA opener before beating Tennessee.

If you are considering watching any of the games at a casino in the state, here is our recent overview of what each casino is offering for March Madness.

Prediction

Villanova is so sound, it’s frightening. The Wildcats almost never make mistakes. Even if they do, they recover with tough defense or a key 3-pointer. Not only is Villanova the best free throw shooting team in the land, they broke the NCAA record for FT accuracy in a season.

Michigan will use Dickinson and its overall size to its advantage. Their 3-point defense will also be key in limiting the Wildcats’ offense.

Will it happen? No.

Villanova will get to its favorite place on the court — the free throw line — and will make the Wolverines pay for allowing them to get there in the first place. Villanova 73, Michigan 65.

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WRITTEN BY
PennStakes.com
Lou Monaco
Lou Monaco had been East Coast Scene columnist for Gaming Today in Las Vegas since June 2019, covering the East Coast sportsbook scene with emphasis on NJ and PA. He also currently is a part-time writer for the high school sports department for NJ Advanced Media (NJ.com) in Iselin, NJ. Lou has over 30 years sports experience with previous stints at ESPN SportsTicker, Daily Racing Form and Oddschecker.
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Lou Monaco had been East Coast Scene columnist for Gaming Today in Las Vegas since June 2019, covering the East Coast sportsbook scene with emphasis on NJ and PA. He also currently is a part-time writer for the high school sports department for NJ Advanced Media (NJ.com) in Iselin, NJ. Lou has over 30 years sports experience with previous stints at ESPN SportsTicker, Daily Racing Form and Oddschecker.
... Read More