Ohio State Buckeyes vs. Villanova Wildcats: NCAA Tournament Second Round Prediction & Game Preview - 3/20/2022

by Chuck Sommers

NCAA Tournament - Second Round (South Region)

Time: 2:40 p.m. ET
Venue: PPG Paints Arena, Pittsburgh, PA
Where to watch: CBS

Opening Odds at USA Sportsbooks


DraftKings: Villanova -5
BetMGM: Villanova -5.5
Caesars: Villanova -5.5

Season record
No. 7 Ohio State: 20-11
No. 2 Villanova: 27-7

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Ohio State - Villanova preview and analysis


Ohio State analysis


The Ohio State Buckeyes were not allowed to give us nice things. Someone told them that it was the proper thing to just put a dagger in the heart of Sister Jean and prevent the Loyola Ramblers from making it another run, all while putting a dent into my already-dead bracket.

Buckeyes star E.J. Liddell finished with 16 points, and Ohio State advanced to the second round with a win over the former Cinderella, perhaps the greatest one of this generation. The Buckeyes, as a result, have a date with the Villanova Wildcats in the Round of 32.

"We knew we were in for a rock fight, and that's very much what it was," Ohio State coach Chris Holtmann said, calling it "the best defensive performance we've really had in a couple years."

Ohio State has gone from one of the surprising teams this season to falling off at the worst time. Even a loss to Penn State in the Big Ten tournament was enough for me to believe the Buckeyes would completely fall off the face of the earth. Hence why I had no business believing the Buckeyes could beat the Ramblers, but alas, they did and that's still not as bad as picking Kentucky. Which is what I also did. I can't win anything.

The Buckeyes' defense held Loyola to just 26.8 percent shooting from the floor, an incredible number that doesn't make most sense when teams get to March. You have 16 seeds shooting way better in that kind of game.

"We love that type of challenge, and we just have to respond," said forward Kyle Young, who had nine points and seven rebounds in 34 minutes in his return from a concussion that cost him several games. "So it was just about who is going to play more physical and tougher with 50/50 balls and things like that."

Villanova analysis


I'll be one to admit that I never expected the Villanova Wildcats to show up in March. The only reason was that the way they played the last part of the regular season wasn't convincing enough for me to think they were that dangerous.

Yet now I feel like Villanova's run to, maybe, the Elite Eight just got easier after Ohio State took down Loyola. That's a group I would've highly expected to pull out some shock-and-awe. But now it would appear that Villanova will let this group make a run at a championship now.

The Wildcats are coming off an 80-60 win over Delaware in their Round 1 matchup. Justin Moore led the way with 21 points, and Villanova withstood a strong start from Delaware in order to advance to the second round.

"I think over the course of the game, we decided to get a feel for what (Delaware) wanted to do, and we got comfortable with making plays for each other, and that's what it's all about," said Wildcats forward Jermaine Samuels, who had 15 points and nine rebounds.

Whatever Big East championship hangover Villanova was on looked pretty evident early on when Delaware even led by two possessions at one point. But unlike other teams, Jay Wright's group tends to play well despite that bump-in-the-road for the part of the season. I would suppose that's where we'In are at right now.

Prediction


When it comes down to two teams who are not playing to their best potential, I always think the favorite will come out on top. This one, I think Ohio State can't rely on its defense to get things done. Villanova is too balanced and dominant at 1 through 5 in order to think Ohio State will keep things going. Give me 'Nova. Villanova by 10

Betting trends


Ohio State is 4-0 ATS in their last four as an underdog.

Ohio State is 5-1 ATS in its last six neutral-site games.

The under is 6-0 in Villanova's last six following an ATS win.

Projected starting lineup


Ohio State:
PG: Jamari Wheeler
SG: Malaki Branham
SF: Eugene Brown III
PF: E.J. Liddell
C: Joey Brunk

Villanova:
PG: Collin Gillespie
SG: Justin Moore
SF: Brandon Slater
PF: Jermaine Samuels
C: Eric Dixon

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Chuck Sommers

About the Author:

Chuck Sommers has camped outside of sportsbooks since he can remember, learning the tricks and nuances of the trade. He still has nightmares of betting $5,000 on the Raiders in the Tuck Rule game but has since turned that to 25 years of veteran handicapping greatness. You can find him mostly in the shadows at the Red Rock or Aliante casinos wondering if the over is cashing on any given Sunday.

All photographic images used for editorial content have been licensed from the Associated Press.

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