Friday April 1st, 2016

Not much has changed since the last time the second-seeded Villanova Wildcats (33–5) faced the second-seeded Oklahoma Sooners (29–7) back on December 7.

Both the Wildcats and the Sooners were top 10 teams then, each unbeaten at the time. Oklahoma routed Villanova 78–55 as a five-point underdog in the Pearl Harbor Invitational and will try to pull off the upset again as two-point betting underdogs at sportsbooks monitored by in the rematch in the Final Four on Saturday.

College Basketball
SI experts make their picks for Saturday’s Final Four games

Things have come full circle for both of these teams from the beginning of the season to the end, with one of them guaranteed to get a shot to cut down the nets as national champions on Monday.

The Wildcats were solid all year in the Big East, winning the regular season title before falling to the Seton Hall Pirates in the tournament championship game. That remains the only loss in their last 10 games, and they have gone 6–4 against the spread during that stretch, including 4–0 in the NCAA tournament.

Villanova also earned the school’s first-ever No. 1 ranking in early February.

The Sooners had a bumpier road during the regular season after the first meeting and also spent three weeks atop the AP Top 25 poll before going 1–3 straight up and 0–4 against the spread around the same time the Wildcats reached the top of the rankings.

Oklahoma lost to the Big 12 champion Kansas Jayhawks twice, including an epic 109–106 triple overtime thriller at home despite Buddy Hield’s career-high 46 points.

Hield has been the top player at the Big Dance, averaging 29.3 points and shooting 48% from beyond the three-point arc. He is peaking at the perfect time, and his teammates have also played well around him. When Hield was held to just 17 points in a 77–63 victory against the third-seeded Texas A&M Aggies, it was Jordan Woodard who stepped up with a game-high 22 points.

Final Four Odds: Tar Heels big favorites against Orange

Still, Oklahoma is just 2–7 ATS in its last nine games, according to the OddsShark College Basketball Database.

Villanova was able to defeat No. 1 seed Kansas 64–59 as a two-point underdog in the South region final by slowing down the game and limiting possessions. The Wildcats learned their lesson from the first time they met the Sooners and will try to do the same thing here.

While Oklahoma was able to outgun the top-seeded Oregon Ducks 80–68 as a one-point underdog in the West Region Final, the team may struggle offensively if this game is played at a different pace. For that reason, Villanova deserves to be favored.

SI Apps
We've Got Apps Too
Get expert analysis, unrivaled access, and the award-winning storytelling only SI can provide - from Peter King, Tom Verducci, Lee Jenkins, Seth Davis, and more - delivered straight to you, along with up-to-the-minute news and live scores.