Kansas eyeing first national title since 2008
Villanova will need somebody or multiple somebodies to step up after losing second-leading scorer Justin Moore to a torn Achilles late in the Elite Eight game. Caleb Daniels, a New Orleans native, will be playing in his hometown and is as good a candidate as anybody.
Don’t be surprised to see Kansas try to speed up the deliberate Wildcats on offense; the more possessions that the Jayhawks can get the better their chance of victory. Many of the March Madness predictions are calling for a game in the 60s which would definitely play into Villanova’s hands.
It is rare to get two coaches with national titles during their tenures going head to head but that is the case as Villanova’s Jay Wright will match wits with Bill Self of Kansas.
Kansas (+180) trail only Duke in the odds to win the national championship. Villanova checks in at +450, just ahead of North Carolina.
Veteran Villanova looking for a national title
Villanova authored one of the biggest upsets in not only college basketball history but in any college sport when the Wildcats played a near-perfect game in taking down the mighty Georgetown Hoyas in the 1985 national title game. These days there are no such David vs. Goliath matchups.
Villanova won the 2016 and 2018 national titles, beating Kansas in the Elite Eight in 2016 and then topping North Carolina in the title game on a buzzer-beater by Kris Jenkins in what is considered one of the top title games of all time. Two years later Villanova blasted Kansas in the national semifinals.
This time around the Wildcats are a bit wounded heading into the showdown as second-leading scorer Justin Moore suffered a season-ending torn Achilles injury depriving Villanova of one of its most valuable and reliable players.
Do the Wildcats have enough to win without Moore? Sure but it won’t be easy. Jermaine Samuels will need to continue his impressive play in the NCAA tournament while Collin Gillespie needs to shoot the ball better than he did in the Elite Eight win. The role players will be asked to do a little more as Villanova eyes its third national title in the last seven seasons.
‘Cats WIN 🔵⚪️ – FINAL FOUR Bound!
— Villanova MBB (@NovaMBB) March 27, 2022
Villanova is 5-1 against the Las Vegas odds in its last six games.
Agbaji ready to deliver to Kansas?
If there is a poster child for the benefits of being a four-year player, it is Kansas star Ochai Agbaji. The 6-foot-5 guard was a solid player as a freshman when he averaged 8.5 points and 4.6 rebounds. He improved his shooting numbers from the field, on 3-pointers, and at the foul line, he is a threat to score inside and outside.
His NCAA tournament got off to a bit of a sluggish start as he averaged 10.3 points on 33% shooting in the first three games but he showed signs of what made him the Big 12 Player of the Year and a first-team All-American with 18 points, five rebounds, four assists and four steals in a win over Miami in the Elite Eight. Kansas will need more of that if the Jayhawks are to pick up the two wins necessary to win the national title.
Agbaji has plenty of help as Christian Braun, David McCormack, and Remy Martin all have more than 70 career starts at the Division I level while reserve Mitch Lightfoot has played in 166 career games.
Kansas is 6-2 against the college basketball spreads in its last eight games.
Villanova vs Kansas Head-to-Head
Villanova has won four of the last five meetings including victories in the 2016 and 2018 March Madness bracket. The Wildcats have covered in each of the last five meetings.
The most recent showdown came on December 21, 2019, with Villanova, listed as a two-point underdog, winning 56-55 with the game falling well under the 147-point total. It will be hard for those who bet online to use the past results to come up with trends for Saturday’s showdown.
The last win for Kansas came in 2018 although the Jayhawks only won by three points as 7½-point underdogs. Four of the last five meetings have been decided by five points or less.
Villanova vs Kansas Game Information
- Game: Villanova (30-7) vs Kansas (32-6)
- Location: Caesars Superdome, New Orleans, Louisiana
- Day/Time: Saturday, April 2nd, 6:09 p.m. ET
- Live stream: TBS.com
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Villanova vs Kansas Betting Lines
Villanova vs Kansas Prediction
A note to Kansas, don’t put Villanova in a position of needing to make foul shots down the stretch to win. The Jayhawks have a chance to set the men’s Division I record for the best free-throw percentage in a season.
Collin Gillespie is 12 for 12 from the foul line in the NCAA tournament and over 90% on the season while Jermaine Samuels is shooting 87% from the line in the NCAA tournament.
Villanova’s March Madness odds took a bit of a hit when Moore went down but there’s still plenty of experience and talent for the Wildcats to take care of business and take out the last remaining No.1 seed.
It is hard to go against Villanova and Jay Wright, but Kansas looks like the more complete team, especially with the emergence of Remy Martin as a top-scoring threat in the NCAA tournament.
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Pick: Kansas -200
Pick: Villanova +4½ (-110)