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No. 5 Villanova vs. No. 12 Winthrop preview, picks for first round of 2021 NCAA Tournament

The Villanova Wildcats and Winthrop Eagles meet at Farmers Coliseum in the first round of the 2021 NCAA Tournament. We’ve got everything you need on both teams ahead of the game here.

Could Winthrop upset Villanova in the first round?

Update March 19: Here are the updated bet splits for No. 5 Villanova vs. No. 12 Winthrop as of March 19th at 7 a.m. from DraftKings Sportsbook:

Villanova -6.5: 33% of action, 28% of bets
Winthrop +6.5: 67% of action, 72% of bets

Over 143: 83% of action, 63% of bets
Under 143: 17% of action, 37% of bets

Update March 18: Here are the updated bet splits for No. 5 Villanova vs. No. 12 Winthrop as of March 18th at 1:30 p.m. from DraftKings Sportsbook:

Villanova: -6: 30% of action, 26% of bets
Winthrop: +6: 70% of action, 74% of bets

Over 143: 94% of action, 71% of bets
Under 143: 6% of action, 29% of bets

Update March 17: Here are the updated bet splits for Villanova vs. Winthrop as of March 17th at 11:00 a.m. from DraftKings Sportsbook:

Villanova -6: 30% of handle, 25% of bets
Winthrop +6: 70% of handle, 75% of bets
Over 137.5: 64% of handle, 69% of bets
Under 137.5: 36% of handle, 31% of bets

The most bet-on game of the first round of the NCAA Tournament so far is Friday night as the Villanova Wildcats take on the Winthrop Eagles at Indiana Farmers Coliseum on Friday, March 19th at 9:57 p.m. on TNT. It’s one of the most anticipated games of the opening round, and should be a tremendous nightcap to the first day of action.

No. 5 Villanova: 16-6 (11-4 Big East): At-large

KenPom rating: 12 Overall, 9 Offense, 68 Defense
NET ranking: 17, (5-3 vs. Quad 1)
Leading scorer: Jeremiah Robinson-Earl 15.7 ppg
Key stat: Villanova is 0-2 without senior point guard Collin Gillespie, with one-possession losses to Providence and Georgetown.

It’s one of those injuries that can blow up a season, and that’s what happened when the Wildcats star point guard Gillespie, a key member of the 2018 national championship team, went down with an MCL tear against Creighton two weeks ago.

The Cats haven’t looked the same since, and might be running into a buzzsaw double-digit seed that can play with the big boys. The matchup has made most of the betting action come in on their opponent already, with 72% of the action and 77% of the bets going against VU.

No. 12 Winthrop: 23-1 (17-1 Big South): Automatic Bid

KenPom rating: 91 Overall, 120 Offense, 70 Defense
NET ranking: 55 (0-0 vs. Quad 1)
Leading scorer: Chandler Vaudrin, 12.2 ppg
Key stat: Winthrop is 11th in possessions per game in the country, while Villanova is 320th.

The camera and lighting people are blocking for America’s projected Cinderella already. The advanced numbers don’t love the Eagles as much as the eye test, but it’s hard to inflate your metadata when you’re playing in a league with no team in the top 200 besides yourself, and no opportunities for out-of-conference play.

Vaudrin and Charles Falden are seniors that will shoot, shoot, and shoot some more. Whomever wins the pace battle wins this game, which might mean trying to stop Jeremiah Robinson-Earl from the Wildcats by not letting him catch the entry pass in the first place.

March Madness Odds from DraftKings Sportsbook

Point Spread: Villanova -6.5
Point Total: 143.5
Moneyline: Villanova -286, Winthrop +235

The Pick

Against The Spread Pick: Winthrop +6.5
Point total pick: Over
Pick to Win: Winthrop

Villanova lost their heart and soul when Gillespie went down, and the one thing we know about Winthrop is they will play fun, fearless basketball. Are we walking into the trap here? Possibly! But we do so with eyes wide open and a belief that fast basketball is winning basketball. And that a team can’t come back when they lose a star point guard this late in the season.

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