The Delaware Fightin’ Blue Hens take on the Villanova Wildcats this Friday, March 18th, at 2:45 PM EST in Pittsburgh. The game will be played at PPG Paints Arena, home to the Pittsburgh Penguins of the NHL, in what will serve as the 2 vs 15 matchup of the South region. The Blue Hens’ road to the tournament entailed a 19-12 record that was good enough for a 5th place finish in the Colonial Athletic Conference. The Villanova Wildcats, meanwhile, finished the regular season with a 23-7 record in the Big East which earned them a 2nd place finish in the conference. Both the Fightin’ Blue Hens and the Wildcats won their conference tournaments.
Delaware vs Villanova Betting Odds
For a majority of the season it appeared as though the Delaware Fightin’ Blue Hen would never make it to this point. They entered the Colonial Athletic conference tournament as the 5th seed after dropping games to Charleston and the University of North Carolina Wilminington to end the season. Once in the conference tournament, however, they pulled off upsets against Drexel, Townsend, and UNCW to clinch a spot in March Madness.
Their reward for the impressive run? A matchup with arguably the best college basketball program of the last decade. Improbable as an upset is here, a 15 seed has knocked off a 2 seed 9 times in the history of the tournament. If Delaware wants to be the 10th, they’re going to have to keep the tempo slow, hit on some of their quality outside looks, and hope Villanova has an off shooting night.
The Fightin’ Blue Hens are led in the backcourt by guards Jameer Nelson Jr, Kevin Anderson, and Ryan Allen, and in the front court by 6’10” big man Dylan Painter. The most pivotal matchups are going to be between Nelson Jr and Gillespie and Painter and Samuels.
Colin Gillespie is up there with Loyola Chicago’s Lucas Williamson as one of the most experienced NCAA tournament players in this year’s class. In his 5th year with the Wildcats, the PG is leading the team with 15.9 points and 3.3 assists per game. Perhaps more notable has been his success as a shooter. On the season, Gillespie is shooting over 42 percent from behind the arc.
The common thread that underpins all of Jay Wright’s Villanova team’s is a slow pace of play. Over the last 3 years, the Wildcats have never ranked higher than 275 in adjusted tempo, according to KenPom. This year, however, they are exceptionally low with an average tempo that ranks 345th. This is certainly something to keep an eye on when it comes to betting totals.
Overall, this Villanova team plays both sides of the court and has the requisite pieces, especially in the frontcourt with Eric Dixon, Slater, and Samuels, to do what they wish with the Blue Hens.
Delaware vs Villanova Picks & Prediction
If I had to pick a team at 15.5 on the spread it would be Villanova -15.5. This Delaware team has struggled defensively all season and Nova has some guys who can score anywhere on the court. I think the big difference between these two teams is going to be the play of Villanova forwards Eric Dixon and Jermaine Samuels. Delaware has solid guard play that can compete with Villanova’s guards on defense, if they’re lucky, but they lack the presence down low. This mismatch is going to be evident on offense and defense.
The total in this game is an interesting one at 133.5. At first glance you think this would play to the under given how slow both teams play. Because of how bad Delaware plays on defense though, I think Villanova is going to be able to score at will and probably get a little more lax on defense as a result. This isn’t a Big East game, and because of how efficient Nova’s offense can be, I actually think this plays to the over.