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No. 7 Ohio State vs. No. 2 Villanova (-5.5)
Tip Sunday, 2:40 p.m. ET on CBS
Ohio State came into this first round losing four of their last five, and so there was a chance they could have endured back-to-back years with upset losses. They were able to get a comfortable win against Loyola in the first round, but it certainly wasn’t pretty. They don’t take a lot of shots, 54.5 per game ranks 311th, but they were well below that mark at 43, and the 28th-best three-point shooting team was an uncharacteristic 1-15, with the starters going 0-10 from behind the arc. E.J. Liddell and Big Ten Freshman of the Year Malaki Branham led the charge as they had 16 and 14 points respectively, and could finally have some momentum going into a game. They certainly will need to have a better offensive showing, especially from three, if they want to compete with Villanova.
You can argue that Villanova has one of the best starting five in this entire tournament because they can rely on someone at every position to make a play and score points. The problem is, after those starters, there’s no one to rely on. Villanova was near the bottom in bench minutes and with the 48-hour turnaround, do these players have enough in the tank to get through the first weekend? This team went through the grind of winning the conference championship because of the chemistry they’ve built over the years, and that’s how they will go far into March. Justin Moore and Collin Gillespie are one of the best perimeter duos in the country, and they’ve been exceptional from deep the last few games.
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