Villanova forward Jeremiah Robinson-Earl (24) get a basket on a dunk against Winthrop in the second half of a first round game in the NCAA men’s college basketball tournament at Farmers Coliseum in Indianapolis, Saturday, March 20, 2021. (AP Photo/Michael Conroy)
- The North Texas Mean green make their first-ever Second Round appearance at the NCAA Tournament when they battle the Villanova Wildcats
- Pegged as the No. 13 seed, North Texas shocked Purdue with a 78-69 upset win in the First Round, while No. 5 Villanova looked steady while knocking off Winthrop 73-63
- We’ve got you covered with all the odds and trends ahead of Sunday’s South Region Second Round clash
The North Texas Mean Green will make their first ever Second Round appearance at the NCAA Tournament when they take on the Villanova Wildcats as 6.5-point underdogs on Sunday afternoon, with time and location TBD.
The Mean Green advance after pulling off an impressive 78-69 upset victory over the fourth-seeded Purdue Boilermakers, and now ride a five-game SU win streak. Fifth-seeded Villanova moves on to the Second Round for an eighth straight year after outlasting the Winthrop Eagles with a 73-63 win on Friday night.
Here’s a look at the odds, trends, and injury report ahead of Sunday’s NCAA Tournament Second Round matchup.
North Texas vs Villanova Odds
|Team||Spread at DraftKings||Moneyline||Total|
|North Texas||+6.5 (-110)||+235||O 126.5 (-110)|
|Villanova||-6.5 (-110)||-295||U 126.5 (-110)|
Odds as of March 20 from DraftKings
Mean Green Stun the Boilermakers
The Mean Green are making the best of what is a somewhat unexpected trip to March Madness. The team closed out the regular season in third place in the C-USA West standings, but punched their ticket to the Big Dance for the first time since 2010 with an impressive march to the conference tournament title, capped by a 61-57 upset win over Western Kentucky.
🚨 NO. 13 SEED NORTH TEXAS UPSETS NO. 4 SEED PURDUE IN OT 🚨
The Mean Green wins its FIRST EVER NCAA Tournament game!! #MarchMadness pic.twitter.com/VO7n73EkIW
— Sports Illustrated (@SInow) March 20, 2021
Overall, it was a streaky campaign for the Mean Green. The club was forced to endure a number of game postponements and cancellations in January and February, and looked to be headed to an early spring after wrapping up their conference schedule with three straight defeats, including a pair of outright losses to the UAB Blazers as home chalk.
Javion Hamlet was a 2⭐️ recruit coming out of HS. Never let a ranking distract you.
He dropped: 24/12/5 in No. 13 North Texas’ upset win over No. 4 Purdue. @slam_university
(via @marchmadness) pic.twitter.com/McehBawqUd
— SLAM (@SLAMonline) March 20, 2021
However, with Javion Hamlet leading the attack, North Texas has rediscovered their groove at a critical moment. The senior guard played a massive role in Friday’s win, dropping 24 points and 12 rebounds, and has averaged just under 20 points and recorded two double-doubles during the team’s five-game surge.
Wildcats Silence the Naysayers
The Wildcats attracted a lot of naysayers ahead of their opening-road date with the Eagles thanks to a dismal stretch run. Villanova finished atop the Big East conference standings this season with an 11-4 SU record.
However, the club dropped three of four SU prior to opening their March Madness schedule on Friday, and made a speedy exit from this year’s Big East Tournament with a shocking 72-71 quarter-final loss to the eventual champion Georgetown Hoyas.
This footwork by Jeremiah Robinson-Earl 👀 pic.twitter.com/HHvYEl4xm9
— Bleacher Report (@BleacherReport) March 20, 2021
Injuries played a role in the role in the Wildcats’ late-season struggles, particularly the loss of Collin Gillespie to a season-ending knee injury. The senior guard brought a lot to the court for Nova this season, ranking second in team scoring with 14.0 points per game, and leading the squad with 4.6 assists per game.
With Gillespie on the shelf, the Wildcats scored 24 or fewer points in two of their four final pre-tournament outings, and averaged just 64 points per game during that stretch, well short of their 75.5 ppg average. However, Jeremiah Robinson-Earl effectively filled the void on Friday night, leading all shooters with 22 points, and adding 12 rebounds for his fifth double-double in seven outings.
Villanova Cursed by Past Second Round Defeats
With the Mean Green knocking off the Boilermakers, Villanova will be denied their chance to avenge their Second Round loss to Purdue in the last NCAA Tournament two years ago. Instead, the focus will shift to what has been a magnificent March Madness run for the Wildcats over the past five years.
In honor of March, I’d like to share some of my favorite March Madness moments in no particular order
3/23/19: Carson Edwards scores 42 points as Purdue decisively knocks off then-defending champs Villanova, 87-61 pic.twitter.com/aIzcHuKL2N
— Oral Roberts & North Texas Student (@sacketology) March 2, 2021
Overall, Nova has now claimed SU wins in 15 of their past 17 Tournament contests, covering the spread on 14 occasions during that stretch. However, the Wildcats’ road to success has consistently run into speed bumps in Second Round action, with the club going a dismal 2-5 SU in their past seven appearances. Also of concern is Nova’s inconsistent performance at the sportsbooks, where they have covered in consecutive games just once during a 5-6 ATS run.
However, based on the steady performance they turned in against a scrappy Eagles squad on Friday night, the Wildcats look poised to silence their critics, return to the Sweet Sixteen for the third time in five March Madness appearances.
The Picks: Wildcats -6.5 (-110); OVER 126.5 (-110)
Daniel has been writing about sports and sports betting for over 23 years. The seasoned pro has contributed to the likes of Sports Illustrated, Sportsnet, NESN, Bleacher Report, OddsShark, the Globe and Mail, and The Nation magazine.