In the season of parity, the 1 and 2 seeds continue to win out. To keep that trend going, Kansas will need to take down red-hot Villanova in the Elite 8. While the Jayhawks have been playing great, it’s hard to argue that ‘Nova hasn’t been the most impressive team in the Tournament so far. The Wildcats have thoroughly dominated all of their Games, easily dispatching Miami by 23 points last round.
This is surprising because the Wildcats have been famously disappointing in March the last couple years, failing to make the Sweet 16 as a high seed. But with guys like Ryan Arcidiacono in his senior year, Villanova is showing everyone just how good they really are. And it’s pretty good.
Of course, that’s not to say Kansas isn’t playing well. Everyone expected the No. 1 overall seeded Jayhawks to be in this position and they’ve done it with an almost ease, having no issue taking down solid competition in Connecticut and Maryland. While Villanova is playing great, there’s no arguing that Kansas is still the best team in the country.
While Miami was supposed to be a tough matchup for Villanova last round, they’ll undoubtedly — and finally — get a team that can play with them this Game. The Wildcats have won every Game with stifling defense and an unfathomable shooting percentage. Once again against the Hurricanes, ‘Nova had an incredible shooting percentage, 62.7% from the field and 10-of-15 from three. The Wildcats have used their pressuring defense to great effect, but thinking that will be the deciding factor against Kansas won’t be wise.
The Jayhawks have the best trio of guards in the country with Frank Mason, Wayne Selden and Devonte’ Graham. Mason leads the show at point and has the speed and skills to break almost every press by himself. That’s why the Jayhawks haven’t had teams come back against them late in Games. They can handle the pressure. Another difference for Kansas that Villanova hasn’t seen yet, is a real low-post presence.
Perry Ellis is a huge part of Kansas and has been dominant in the Tournament against teams with decent size as well. Ellis has 69 points in three Games and has been close to un-guardable. Due to his ability on the defensive end, Bill Self doesn’t have a problem keeping Ellis in the Game against smaller teams, such as Nova. That means while LAnden LUcas deals with Daniel Ochefu, Kris Jenkins and Darryl Reynolds will be left to deal with Ellis, and that edge goes to the Jayhawks.
Considering Kansas has the frontcOurt edge, and what many to believe the best backcOurt in the country, how will the Wildcats win this Game?
It no doubt is going to take some great shooting once again. Arcidiacono was on fire last Game from the start and finished with 21 points, while Jenkins had five 3s himself for 21 points, nine boards and Four assists. Guys like Jalen Brunson and Mikal Bridges are the x-factors in this Game and will need to show up, something that hasn’t been needed the first few Games. Leading scorer Josh Hart also needs to be a bigger factor after getting into foul trouble early against Miami.
The Jayhawks are a slight favorite (sitting around -3), which makes sense because while Kansas has the better overall team, there’s no denying what the Wildcats have done so far. This will be a good Game, but Kansas’ frontcOurt will be the difference, led by Perry Ellis.
Our Pick – Villanova +2.5