We know what the story is with Villanova.
Collin Gillespie is out for the year. Justin Moore is coming off the ankle injury and played 27 bench minutes in the Georgetown loss. The Cats have lost three of four and earned themselves a #5 seed as they stagger into the NCAA Tournament.
They’re paired with the #12 seed Winthrop Eagles, who went 23-1 this season in the Big South Conference, which is absolutely terrible. Villanova was navigating the Big East while Winthrop was dispatching juggernauts like Campbell, Radford, High Point, and South Carolina Upstate, which is apparently located in Spartanburg.
But the conference and strength of schedule doesn’t seem to bother the experts, because it seems like they are overwhelmingly picking Winthrop to take out Nova:
Winthrop upset of Villanova is visible from space.
— Pat Forde (@ByPatForde) March 14, 2021
It'd be an upset if Villanova beat Winthrop.
— Pete Thamel (@PeteThamel) March 14, 2021
Villanova is in trouble …
— Jeff Goodman (@GoodmanHoops) March 14, 2021
Winthrop over Villanova, easy
— Mid-Major Madness (@mid_madness) March 14, 2021
Seth Davis also picking Winthrop:
How does yours stack up? 🤔 pic.twitter.com/f2l49g9Jyr
— The Athletic (@TheAthletic) March 15, 2021
We know there’s a 12/5 upset almost every year. In fact, in 2019, we had three 12 seeds advance, with Murray State, Liberty, and Oregon all getting it done. In 2017, Middle Tennessee took out Minnesota and in 2016 Yale and Little Rock both won. In three of the last four tournaments, at least one twelve seed has moved on to the second round.
Nobody should be surprised if this happens to Nova, but the line looks really funky to me. Nova is -6 at most of the books and -265 on the moneyline. Winthrop getting six points seems a little surprising, considering the way the experts seem to feel about this matchup. If anything, the Eagles at +6 feels like the best value play right now, because Villanova’s last two games have been decided by a grand total of three points and the matchups have been close, low-scoring affairs. Even without Gillespie, Winthrop hasn’t played anybody half as decent as Nova, Creighton, or UConn, so even though the Cats are stumbling along right now, there’s still enough raw talent to justify putting your money on a tight game type of line.
As always, when the experts seem to universally agree on something, but Vegas lines are somewhat incongruent, be wary.