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Saint Mary’s vs Villanova Picks – Gael-Force Winds Are Blowing

Posted by Washington Tucker on 3/19/2010 1:52:54 PM
NCAA Basketball Odds: Pick Saint Mary’s

Online betting has to account for season-long excellence, but it must also attempt to factor in the forces of the present moment. Villanova was plainly a better basketball team than Saint Mary’s College for most of the 2010 season, but will the Wildcats be good enough to win on Saturday afternoon in the second round of the NCAA Tournament? That’s the question which needs to be answered.

Saint Mary’s vs Villanova betting odds: Saint Mary’s
  • What: NCAA Basketball Betting
  • When: Saturday, March 20th – 1:10 PM ET
  • Where: Dunkin’ Donuts Center – Providence, RI
  • Key Stat: Villanova guard Scottie Reynolds went 2 of 15 from the field on Thursday vs. Robert Morris

The Saint Mary’s-Villanova Storyline

One of the beautiful things about the NCAA Tournament is that, unlike other major sporting events, it really is an organic and evolving event. The Big Dance possesses a character that changes profoundly from game to game and round to round. A bracket looks pristine before the first round starts, but as soon as some results are posted, the nature of the competition looks very different.

On paper, Richmond figured to beat Saint Mary’s and advance to the second round in this section of the South Region draw. The seventh-seeded Spiders were underseeded in the eyes of many, and a majority of pundits felt that 10th-seeded Saint Mary’s would bow out meekly after making a cross-country trip to New England. However, it wouldn’t be March Madness without some bracket busting, and that’s exactly what the Gaels proceeded to do under coach Randy Bennett and big man Omar Samhan. The post player people came to see in Providence, R.I., on Thursday was Georgetown’s Greg Monroe, but it was Samhan – a beefy yet very agile low-post presence – who dominated the day at the Dunkin’ Donuts Center.

While Georgetown faded away in the night session, Samhan controlled the paint against Richmond, stomping the itsy-bitsy Spiders with an array of sleek and powerful moves that were accentuated by a soft shooting touch. Samhan continually received the ball in the low post, and Richmond – sometimes unable to double, other times unwilling to – simply had no answer. The 6-11, 260-pound performer lit up the Spiders for 29 points on 11-of-16 shooting plus a respectable 7-of-10 outing at the foul line. Samhan also grabbed 12 boards in one of the NCAA Tournament’s five best day-one performances, as Saint Mary’s defeated Richmond for a spot in the round of 32.

Samhan is the man Villanova has to stop on Saturday, and the Wildcats – who sorely miss the leadership and toughness of graduated senior Dante Cunningham, the soul of last year’s Final Four team – do not have anyone who can stand up to the SMC center.

Villanova will have to win this game not by shutting down Saint Mary’s, but by scoring in bunches. Normally, that’s not a problem for the Cats, but since superstar guard Scottie Reynolds is struggling (more on that below), Nova coach Jay Wright doesn’t know what to expect from his team. This game pits a 10 seed against a 2 seed, but it’s essentially a coin flip. Villanova is not the high-level team it once was; Saint Mary’s – a team that did not figure to make this event one month ago – is playing the better brand of ball at the moment.

The sportsbook odds have been turned upside down.

Offensive Matchups

Forget points-per-game averages. This tilt between the Gaels and the Wildcats hinges on the performance of Scottie Reynolds. The senior who has been so dynamic for Villanova – and who was felt by many to be the Big East Player of the Year (Syracuse’s Wes Johnson won the award) – is in the midst of a late-season tailspin. Reynolds has hit just 11 of 41 shots in his last three games, and what’s worse is that he’s making terrible decisions on the floor. Wright benched Reynolds and teammate Corey Fisher for the first few minutes of Thursday’s overtime win over 15th-seeded Robert Morris. The decision backfired, as Reynolds struggled all game long and needed some very charitable whistles en route to 15 made free throws.

Betting Edge: Saint Mary’s

Defensive Matchups

Sports betting fans don’t have to make this very complicated: Can Villanova stop Omar Samhan? Dante Cunningham has a college diploma. Enough said.

Betting Edge: Saint Mary’s

Injuries

There are no significant injuries for either team.

Betting Edge: Even

Betting Prediction: Saint Mary’s vs Villanova Picks

The Gaels might be a double-digit seed. The Wildcats might be a number two seed playing in a building – the home of the Providence Friars – where they are familiar with the shooting backdrop. No matter. Saint Mary’s College is playing with confidence, precision and passion, three things Villanova is clearly failing to bring to the table. The Villanova team seen in January needs to show up now. Will it? Probably not. Saint Mary’s will need to falter in order for the second seed to survive on Saturday afternoon.

WASHINGTON’S Pick: Saint Mary’s

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