Villanova vs Kansas
These teams are no strangers, having met three times in the NCAA Tournament in recent years.
The Villanova vs Kansas Final Four predictions would have been interesting if both teams were healthy, but Villanova’s loss of second-leading scorer Justin Moore could be a deal-breaker.
Even though the teams have highly respected coaches with plenty of Final Four experience, this will be known as that other game. Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski’s matchup against North Carolina in the other national semifinal will draw the majority of the attention.
Kansas has the second-best odds at +180 to win the national championship while Villanova (+450) is well behind both Duke and Kansas.
The game will be played on Saturday at 6:09 p.m. at the Caesars Superdome in New Orleans. Here’s a look at some keys to the first men’s Division I national semifinal and betting information for the matchup.
Team records: Villanova 30-7; Kansas 32-6
Coaches: Villanova – Jay Wright 21st season; Kansas – Bill Self 19th season
Seeds: Villanova No. 2 seed South Region; Kansas No. 1 seed Midwest Region
NCAA bid: Villanova received an automatic bid as Big East tournament champions; Kansas received an automatic bid as Big 12 tournament champions.
NCAA appearances: Villanova 41st appearance (1971 run to championship game vacated by NCAA); Kansas 50th appearance
Final Four appearances: Villanova 7; Kansas 16
Best finish: Villanova won the national title in 1985, 2016 and 2018; Kansas won the national title in 1952, 1988 and 2008.
When Kansas is on Offense
The emergence of former Arizona State star Remy Martin has keyed the run for Kansas. He is averaging 16.8 points off the bench in the NCAAs after recording one game of more than 16 points during the regular season. Martin was the Big 12 preseason player of the year before playing in one game for the Jayhawks. If he played in the Big East, he’d be considered for player of the year after averaging 21.5 points, 7.0 rebounds and 3.5 assists in tough wins against Creighton and Providence.
All-American and Big 12 Player of the Year Ochai Agbaji wasn’t invisible in the first three games in the NCAA Tournament, but he wasn’t impacting the game as much as he had during the regular season. He was more involved in the regional final against Miami with 18 points on 8-of-12 shooting to go with five rebounds, four assists and four steals.
This is not the deepest team that Bill Self has had at Kansas as he relies mostly on a seven-player rotation. Mitch Lightfoot averaged 16.5 minutes in the last two tournament games to become the seventh player to see regular action.
Christian Braun, Jalen Wilson and David McCormack are veterans who are all double-digit scorers while Dajuan Harris is the assists leader for the Jayhawks. With that nucleus, it is understandable why the Villanova vs. Kansas betting predictions favor the Jayhawks.
When Villanova is on Offense
Jermaine Samuels is playing the best basketball of his career in the NCAA Tournament. Whether it is a tough rebound, key basket or some clutch free throws, the senior forward has delivered time after time. He is no stranger at scoring against taller frontlines and will be asked to do so once again.
Collin Gillespie is coming off a tough outing against Houston in the regional final. He was 1 of 6 from the field and missed all four of his 3-point attempts, the third time he was held without a 3-pointer this season. If he shoots like that against Kansas, things could get ugly. Gillespie has benefited by having backcourt mate Justin Moore to share the playmaking duties, but with Moore suffering a season-ending torn Achilles late in the Elite Eight game, there will be even more on Gillespie’s shoulders.
Caleb Daniels (10 of 35 shooting over the last three games), Eric Dixon, who averaged 6.0 points and 8.0 rebounds in the last two contests, and Brandon Slate (1 of 11 from the field in the NCAA Tournament) will be asked to contribute more for Villanova to stay with the favored Jayhawks.
Three Keys to the Game
1. Tempo, tempo, tempo: Villanova is just fine working the ball around and waiting for the best shot, even if it comes late in the shot clock. Kansas would rather get out in transition and get the game going to its pace. If the game gets into the 70s, that could be a problem for the Wildcats. Those making Villanova vs. Kansas predictions will need to decide which team will control the pace of play.
2. No more Moore for Wildcats: It is not just that Moore leads Villanova in minutes per game or his 14.8 points and 4.8 rebounds that the Wildcats will miss. He had the knack of making just the right pass at the perfect time, coming up with a steal or finding a way to get to the foul line. His absence and how Villanova adapts without him will be huge in determining the winner.
3. Getting a second chance: It might be surprising to know that Villanova has more offensive rebounds in the tournament than Kansas. The Jayhawks are +36 in rebounds but have not been a great offensive rebounding team in the NCAA Tournament. Villanova has to balance crashing the glass with sending people retreating on defense because Kansas will look to get the ball up the court off missed shots — and even made shots for that matter.
Villanova has won four of the last five games against Kansas, including a one-point win in 2019 in the most recent meeting. The Wildcats also defeated Kansas en route to winning the national title in 2016 and 2018. The Villanova vs. Kansas predictions are going the other way in this one, especially with the loss of Moore, the Wildcats’ second-leading scorer.
Betting Numbers to Know
When it comes to making the Villanova vs. Kansas predictions, here are some trends to consider.
Villanova is 5-1 against the spread in its last six games and has covered in each of its last five matchups with Kansas. Six of the last seven Villanova games went under the total. Seven of the last 10 Kansas games have also headed under the total.
The Jayhawks are 6-2 against the spread in its last eight games.
The college basketball point spreads list Kansas as a 4½-point favorite and it will be worth monitoring that number. If it goes higher, taking a shot on Villanova might not be a bad idea, although a shorthanded Wildcats’ team might struggle to keep this to a one- or two-possession game.
The total of 132.53 is 19 points less than the other national semifinal, which tells you everything you need to know about how this game could be played.