NCAA Tournament Odds: Villanova, George Mason Round 1

By: Adam Markowitz | Thursday, March 17, 2011

George Mason and Villanova square off in Cleveland, the
winner drawing Ohio State on Sunday.
The George Mason Patriots and Villanova Wildcats are in the 8/9 game in the East Region. These two will fight it out in NCAA Tournament betting action on Friday afternoon at Quicken Loans Arena in Cleveland, OH.

The Wildcats are slight one-point favorites for Friday's battle with the total set at 135 for the 11:10 a.m. (PT) tip-off.  The winner will likely take on the Ohio State Buckeyes on Sunday afternoon.

Should Villanova even be in this tournament? This is the first team that has ever come into the dance on a five-game losing streak, but things are worse than that for the 'Cats. They are only 5-10 in their last 15 games, and they haven't played a fantastic game in quite some time.

This is the second straight season that this team really faltered down the stretch.  'Nova was bounced early in the Big East Tournament last season, nearly taken out in the first round as a No. 2 seed, and then finally fell to the St. Mary's Gaels in the Round of 32.

The threesome of Corey Fisher, Corey Stokes and Maalik Wayns make up one of the best backcourts in the nation, with all three averaging at least 14.0 PPG. All of their shooting percentages are down this season though, combining to shoot roughly 42 percent from the field. The big men, Antonio Pena and Mouphtaou Yarou have underachieved as well, combining for just 18.2 PPG and 14.1 RPG.

George Mason didn't last long in the CAA Tournament this year, but as was proven by its No. 8 seed there was never a doubt about this team getting into March Madness. The Patriots didn't play much of a schedule, but they did pick up 26 wins and performed well in a solid Colonial League to win the regular season title.

This is a particularly efficient club, as the Pats are shooting 47.4 percent from the field and 39.7 percent from beyond the arc. Both numbers rank in the Top 20 in the land. On the other side of the court, George Mason is just as dangerous, keeping teams down to just 61.5 PPG.

Cameron Long is the squad's leading scorer at 15.3 PPG. Ryan Pearson is second in scoring at 14.4 PPG and the leading rebounder at 6.8 RPG. There are three other men as well that are scoring at least 6.2 PPG for this team, and Head Coach Jim Larrinaga has himself a heck of a rotation.

Of course, this is the prototypical duel between the little giants and the big boys. We know that three-point shooting is going to be key for the Patriots, as they really have to equalize their lack of talent, just like they did a few seasons ago when they made their epic trip to the Final Four.

This actually isn't the first time that these teams have played each other in recent memory. The Cats have three straight wins since 1998 against George Mason, but the Patriots covered two of the three college basketball odds in those games. The most recent game was a 69-68 escape by Villanova last season.

The Wildcats enter this one at just 1-12 ATS in its last 13 overall. George Mason s 20-6 ATS in its last 26.

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