We were able to bounce back yesterday as Xavier posted a first-round victory over Minnesota, 65-54. Today, we will pick another NCAA Tournament game to extend our streak to two.
The Matchup: 1:05 PM #10 Saint Mary’s Gaels vs. #2 Villanova Wildcats..
Both teams played in exciting first-round match-ups. #2 Villanova had to take #15 Robert Morris into overtime to get the win. Villanova star guards, Scottie Reynolds and Corey Fisher, both came off the bench to combine for 26 points. Both Reynolds and Fisher violated team policies and were forced to sit for the first few minutes of the contest. Many will argue that the referees gave the game to Villanova, but Robert Morris was legitimately fouling Reynolds in overtime.
#10 Saint Mary’s eliminated one of ESPN’s darlings, #7 Richmond, in the first round, 80-71. Center Omar Samhan scored 29 points and collected 12 rebounds(7 offensive). Guard Mickey McConnell scored 23 points, including 5 for 9 from 3-point land. As a team, Saint Mary’s shot 42% from behind the arc.
In this game, Villanova must slow down Samhan. If they don’t contain him, they may be heading back to Philadelphia early this year. In their last game, Robert Morris did not have a true center for Villanova to defend. Villanova has struggled against teams that have featured a powerful center(Georgetown, Syracuse) this season. Villanova freshman center, Mouphtaou Yarou, will be the key to stopping Samahan.
Against Richmond, Saint Mary’s struggled without Samahan in the game. If Villanova can get him in foul trouble, the Wildcats will win easily.
I’m picking Villanova in this game. They have the talent, experience, and coaching needed to win. Unlike the Big East teams, Saint Mary’s does not feature a solid complement to Samahan. He ultimately, is their entire team. Also, Villanova Coach Jay Wright and guard Scottie Reynolds will be out to prove that their win against Robert Morris was not a fluke. Look for a strong showing from the Wildcats as they advance to the Sweet 16.
The Pick: #2 Villanova Wildcats
Note: According to Las Vegas, Villanova opened as a 4.5 favorite.
March Record: 15-4
Photo Credit: news.yahoo.com