The North Texas Mean Green needed overtime to win the Conference USA Championship, and another OT to get past the No. 4 seed Purdue Boilermakers, but they have advanced for a date with the three-time national champion Villanova Wildcats on Sunday at Bankers Life Fieldhouse. The ball will be tipped at 8:45 p.m., with the broadcast on TNT.
No. 13 North Texas: 18-9 (9-5 C-USA):
First round result: 78-69 win over No. 4 Purdue
KenPom rating: 59 Overall, 100 Offense, 37 Defense
NET ranking: 59, (1-3 Vs. Quad 1)
Leading scorer: Javion Hamlet (14.9 ppg)
Key stat: The Mean Green’s 37.5% from three-point range is good for 25th in Division I.
North Texas got the first-ever NCAA win in school history on Friday, and it only took 63 years of D-1 hoops. Hamlet led all scorers with 24 points, but the team really took over in OT, scoring the first nine points and not allowing the Boilermakers to ever recover. Scoring 1.18 points per possession a Top 30 defense from the B1G shows this team can play at a high level, but they do slow it down considerably while being 350th in tempo.
No. 5 Villanova: 17-6 (11-4 Big East):
First round result: 73-63 win over No. 12 Winthrop
KenPom rating: 12 Overall, 9 Offense, 63 Defense
NET ranking: 17 (5-3 VS Quad 1)
Leading scorer: Jeremiah Robinson-Earl (15.7 ppg)
Key stat: Villanova turns it over less than any team in America per possession (13.3%).
VU finally wins a game without Collin Gillespie, but what might be the most impressive thing is only having six turnovers without your star senior point guard available. Chris Arcidiacono did start for the Wildcats in his place, but that experiment has likely ended after another poor performance in just 12 minutes.
Robinson-Earl was terrific with 22 points, 11 rebounds, six assists and three blocks in one of his best games since coming to Radnor. Even though the ‘Cats shot just 8-25 from three-point range, they came away with a quality win over a Winthrop team that wanted to get out and run, but was forced to play at a slower pace.
March Madness Odds from DraftKings Sportsbook
Point spread: Villanova -6.5
Point total: 126.5
Moneyline: UNT +235, Villanova -295
Against The Spread Pick: UNT +6.5
Point total pick: Under 126.5
Pick to Win: Villanova
This could be a god forsaken game of basketball to watch. These two teams combine to average being worse than 340th in pace in D-1, and that sound you’ll hear is a point guard banging a ball on the wood for at least 20 seconds before anything happens during a possession.
First one to 40 wins. First one to 60 might not happen. We’ll grab the under and stay away from the line.
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