Final 4 Pick
The left side of the bracket may be a mess, but the right side is complete chalk with the two top seeds facing off in the Final 4. Villanova was the favorite to get here, while Kansas had to upset Duke last round to make it. Considered one of the best teams in the country for most of the season, the Wildcats were early -5 point favorites for this Game at 5Dimes Sportsbook.
Villanova has been the most convincing team up to this point, winning all of its Games by double digits. West Virginia was ahead, but the Wildcats put together a late run and that was it, while things were never really in doubt against Texas Tech. The same can’t be said for Kansas, although the scores against Seton Hall and Clemson were closer than the actual Games. KU was one shot away from losing to Duke, but managed to come through in overtime against an arguably more talented team.
This Final 4 matchup features two teams that are extremely similar with both shooting a bunch and running small ball. The difference is that Villanova’s big men can shoot, while Udoka Azubuike is purely a presence in the paint for the Jayhawks.
Neither team has relied on free throws much this season, but Villanova changed that against Tech last round and went 29-of-35 from the line on a day it shot 4-of-24 from three. That’s a big stat because if the shots aren’t falling, these teams will need to turn somewhere else for offense. While the Jayhawks have guys that can get to the lane, they don’t rely a ton on free throws. Maybe the other troublesome stat for Kansas is that it doesn’t rank well in defensive rebounding and Villanova just had 20 offensive boards against the Red Raiders. Those are the main stat outliers with both teams having elite offenses and Villanova’s defense ranking slightly better.
The matchup between Spellman and Azubuike will be fun to watch and there’s a good chance both get into foul trouble. While Azubuike can beat up Spellman (and anyone on Villanova) down low, Azubuike will have trouble guarding Spellman on the perimeter. Spellman leads the Wildcats in three-point percentage, which could be a problem. Elsewhere, Villanova has a tad more size and bulk at every other position.
Jalen Brunson has the ability to take both Malik Newman and Devonte’ Graham to the block and Scoreover them. Mikal Bridges and LAgerald Vick serve similar roles on each team, but Bridges is better in most ways and is an expected NBA lottery pick. Svi Mykhailiuk has an inch and maybe some athleticism on Eric Paschall, but Paschall also has some extra pounds and could possibly bully Mykhailiuk. Throw in Phil Booth and Donte DiVincenzo and the scoring options are endless for the Wildcats, while Kansas doesn’t have much off the bench outside of Silvio De Sousa.
Newman has been on fire for Kansas and that will have to continue in addition to Graham doing a little more. Azubuike may be able to get his shots down low, but Newman and Graham are just as important to the Jayhawks in that they have to hit their shots and attack. Everyone on Villanova can shoot, which is the main reason it has the top-ranked offense in the country. Kansas has a good three-point defense, but it isn’t elite.
With more avenues to Scoreand slightly more size, the Wildcats are the easier team to back. The Jayhawks escaped against Duke with a great Game plan from Bill Self, but this will take even more against Jay Wright’s extremely balanced squad that has cold-blooded Brunson leading the way.
Our Pick – Kansas +5