Kansas vs Villanova Preview and Prediction
Kansas vs Villanova Preview
The second Final Four matchup on Saturday will feature a pair of No. 1 seeds when Villanova battles Kansas in San Antonio.
The winner will meet the Michigan-Loyola-Chicago winner in the national championship game Monday night.
Villanova (34-4) defeated Texas Tech 71-59 in the East region of the Elite Eight while Kansas (31-7) ousted Duke 85-81 in an overtime thriller in the Midwest.
Brunson leads the way
Junior guard Jalen Brunson, who was just named the AP Player of the Year, was named the Most Outstanding Player at the East Regional. Brunson averaged 21.0 points, 4.0 rebounds and 4.0 assists in Boston.
He was also a member of the Villanova’s championship squad from two years ago. Plain and simple, he knows how to win.
“It was big because there’s times you’re not going to be able to make shots,” Brunson said. “You can’t dwell at all on not making shots. We do a pretty good job of making sure that our focus is on playing defense and rebounding. We don’t care if we’re making shots or not, we just try to focus on playing for each other and knowing that we are going to get a stop. We are very talented offensively and have a lot of guys who can really score the ball and make plays for others, but when we’re playing defense together that’s what makes us really special.”
Kansas has a chance with Graham
The Jayhawks last advanced to the Final Four in 2012 when they fell in the title game to Kentucky.
The difference between that squad and this year’s is Devonte’ Graham….
Senior guard Devonte’ Graham, the Big 12 Player of the Year, is the only Division I player averaging more than 17.0 points, 7.0 assists and 1.6 steals while committing fewer than 3.0 turnovers per game.
Sophomore guard Malik Newman was named Midwest Regional Most Outstanding Player after averaging a team-high 21.8 points in its first four NCAA Tournament wins. He scored a career-high 32 points in the Elite Eight win against Duke.
LINE: -5 Villanova
Despite their resume’s, Kansas and Villanova are very different. The Jayhawks like to use a big man to control the paint (seven-footer Udoka Azubuike) who can dominate down-low and play with his back to the basket. Nova does not have a player like that, instead they have five guys at all times who can stretch the floor and make jump shots anywhere on the court.
The Wildcats also use a guard-heavy lineup, playing four guards on the court at the same time. Can Kansas handle their speed? Can they stick with them in transition? Will they be able to keep up the pace?
Those questions will be answered Saturday night, but I expect to see Villanova in the championship game for the second time in three seasons.
Villanova 81 Kansas 74