How to Watch
Day: Sunday, March 20th, 2022
Time: 2:45 p.m. ET
Venue: PPG Paints Arena - Pittsburgh, PA
Stream: March Madness Live
(via DraftKings Sportsbook)
The Villanova Wildcats are set to face the Ohio State Buckeyes in the second round of the 2022 NCAA Tournament.
Ohio State comes off a strong defensive performance against Loyola Chicago. Villanova on the other end hopes to reach their fifth Sweet Sixteen appearance in the last seven tournaments. This will be the fourth meeting all-time between these two teams with Ohio State holding a 2-1 advantage.
The Ohio State Buckeyes were ranked 17th in the preseason AP Top-25 poll but ended their season outside the polls. A large part of them failing to return to the rankings was due to their collapse at the end of the season. After starting 8-2, the Buckeyes were flirting with a Top 10 ranking for some of winter. However, the Buckeyes finished their season on a downswing, dropping four of their last six contests in the regular season and conference tournament.
Leading the way for Ohio State will be a pair of likely lottery picks in EJ Liddell and Malaki Branham. Liddell recorded a double-double versus Loyola Chicago with 16 points and 10 rebounds. Branham added 14 points to lift the Buckeyes to victory. Where Ohio State makes their money is in the paint and on defense. Against the Ramblers, they held them to only 41 points on 26.8% shooting while also out-rebounding them by a wide margin. Villanova, coming from the Big East, is no stranger to tough, physical basketball. But if they want to win this game, they will need to crank up their interior presence and team rebounding. Those have been two glaring weak spots for the Wildcats all season.
The Wildcats scorched the Delaware Blue Hens in the first round. Although they looked sluggish out of the gates, they would pick up their intensity and three-point shooting in a convincing win. Justin Moore led all scorers with 21 points while Jermaine Samuels gave them 15 points and nine rebounds.
Historically, the Wildcats are an undersized team and this year is no different. The battle in the paint is going to be uphill for Jay Wright’s team, and one that can result in a loss if they’re not careful. With that being said, we have seen Villanova go up against tough, tall, and gritty teams all season long. Whether it be Creighton’s Ryan Kalkbrenner or Providence’s Nate Watson, they always seem to find themselves on the short end of the stick in the paint. The common trend in those games is the outcome with Villanova coming out on top of both of those teams twice. They will need to replicate that performance again if they want to advance to another Sweet Sixteen.
Ohio State is a super-talented team that just hasn’t hit its peak yet. Combining that with the massive chip they have on their shoulder, this matchup could be a dangerous one. The Wildcats are not scared of anyone in any environment though. This game will truly be an unstoppable force in Villanova’s offense, against an immovable object in the Buckeyes' defense. We have seen Villanova have trouble against elite defenses before, even earlier this season against Baylor. The difference however lies in the fact that the Buckeyes are not the Bears. Give me the cats in a dog fight.
My Prediction: 75-65 Villanova