For the first time this decade, the Villanova Wildcats have made it past the NCAA Tournament’s first weekend. The South Region’s No. 2 seed has looked very impressive in demolishing its first two opponents with ease en route to the Sweet 16. But will the Wildcats have an answer for No. 3 Miami’s terrific backcourt, which has carried the Canes to their best-ever tournament run?
Find out all you need to know about this South Region semifinal with our complete breakdown below. And for more Sweet 16 action, check out our previews of North Carolina vs. Indiana and Virginia vs. Iowa State.
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March Madness No. 2 Villanova vs No. 3 Miami (FL) Preview
Where: KFC Yum! Center, Louisville, Kentucky
When: Thursday, March 24, 7:10 PM ET
Line: Villanova Wildcats (-4.5) vs Miami (FL) Hurricanes (+4.5); total 141.0 – view all March Madness lines
TV Broadcast: CBS
Betting on the Miami (FL) Hurricanes
Seniors Angel Rodriguez and Sheldon McClellan have been simply sensational in the tournament thus far.
A-Rod, who averaged just under 13 PPG in the regular season, has stepped up his scoring in the tournament. He has averaged 26 points in the first two games, including a huge 28-point performance on 9-of-11 shooting against the top-ranked Shockers defense. Meanwhile, McClellan is putting up 19 points per game in the tourney.
Miami was 12th in adjusted offensive efficiency per KenPom.com this season, which is a testament to Rodriguez’s and McClellan’s abilities to both score as well as create for others. With those two dependable guards orchestrating things, the Canes offense should be in good hands against a Villanova defense that loves to force turnovers.
Meanwhile, don’t sleep on Miami’s defense (ranked 37th per KenPom.com), which is more than capable of slowing down a top offense like Villanova. The Canes were able to beat the likes of Duke and Notre Dame in conference play this season by holding those teams’ elite offenses to 70 points or fewer.
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Betting on the Villanova Wildcats
There was no early tournament exit for Villanova this year. The No. 2-seed Wildcats have breezed by the first two rounds, blowing their opponents out by 30 and 19 points, respectively. Of course, UNC Asheville and Iowa aren’t exactly the strongest of opponents, but that’s still progress for the Wildcats, who’ve made it to the Sweet 16 for the first time since 2009.
Miami should be a much tougher test for a Villanova team that didn’t pass many of its big tests during the regular season. The Wildcats lost their two biggest non-conference games against Oklahoma and Virginia, a key road game at Xavier, and the Big East title game to Seton Hall.
In all of those games, guards (London Perrantes, Edmond Sumner and Isaiah Whitehead to name three) have been able to hit Villanova’s defense hard. Meanwhile, it’s about to face the Hurricanes, who have arguably the best backcourt left standing in the tournament.
However, there’s a reason Villanova is the only team besides top-ranked Kansas to be in the top 10 of KenPom.com’s offensive and defensive efficiency metrics this season. The Wildcats have terrific balance on both ends of the court, and have the ability to get hot at any time from beyond the arc.
If all of their weapons click, which they have for the first two games, the Wildcats should have enough offensively to get past a Canes team that will struggle to go shot-for-shot in a shootout.
Miami (+4.5) pushes Villanova all the way, but the Wildcats eke out a 73-70 win.