Monday, April 04, 2016

Title Game Picking The Lines

Final Four ATS: 1-1-0
2016 Tournament ATS: 35-30-1
2015 Tournament ATS: 39-28-0 (58%)
2010-14 ATS: 181-139-11 (57%)

Villanova (+3) over North Carolina: For the first time since 2008, the #1 and #2 teams in the Pomeroy ratings are facing off in the title game. It's interesting that in a season with so much of a reputation for parity (deserved or not), we end up with arguably the two best teams in the nation playing each other for the title. Of course, the "public" and the media clearly have been riding the Tar Heels, which explains this crazy Vegas line. Villanova was #1 in the Pomeroy ratings even before their historic demolition of Oklahoma, and they are #1 in the Sagarin PREDICTOR and most other computer ratings as well. But even after that Oklahoma game, the public and the media still seem skeptical of Jay "his teams always wilt in March" Wright. So what can we say about the match-ups?

When North Carolina has the ball, Villanova will pose many of the same challenges and opportunities than Syracuse did. They are good at keeping opponents out of the paint and will force a lot of longer jumpers, where the Tar Heels struggle, but their biggest weakness is on the defensive glass. They are nowhere near as awful on the defensive glass as Syracuse is, but the Tar Heels will have an opportunity to score a lot of second chance points.

Offensively, Villanova will pose a vastly tougher challenge for North Carolina than Syracuse did. The Orange don't pass the ball well and forced up a ton of terrible shots. Villanova, in contrast, passes the ball exceptionally well, and they will work for the open shot. North Carolina's defense is very strong in the paint, while Villanova has proven to be very good at scoring in the paint, so that will be a key match-up to watch.

The deciding factor in this game could potentially be the refereeing. Villanova is a deep team, but their depth is primarily in the backcourt, and they don't have the waves of athletic big men that the Tar Heels can present. If the refs have a tight whistle, and Daniel Ochefu picks up some early foul trouble, then the Tar Heels will be able to take over the paint like they did against Syracuse. But if Villanova's bigs can stay out of foul trouble, I do think that they will move the ball better offensively and will get better shots than the Tar Heels will. And so barring foul trouble, I think Villanova is the slightly better team. With public money pushing the Tar Heels out to a 3 point favorite, I've got to take the points here.


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