Time: 6:09 p.m. ET
Venue: Caesars Superdome, New Orleans, LA
Where to watch: CBS
Opening Odds at USA Sportsbooks
DraftKings: Kansas -4.5
BetMGM: Kansas -4.5
Caesars: Kansas -4.5
No. 2 Villanova: 30-7
No. 1 Kansas: 32-6
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Villanova - Kansas preview and analysis
Bill Self vs. Jay Wright. Villanova vs. Kansas. We’ve been robbed of a Houston-Miami Final Four, which would have been a tremendous jolt for the state of college basketball, but alas, we are here for this sort of tomfoolery in the Final Four between two prestigious programs.
The Villanova Wildcats and Kansas Jayhawks will meet in the first of two games inside the Caesars Superdome with the winner taking on the victorious school between the Duke Blue Devils and North Carolina Tar Heels in their first ever matchup in the Final Four.
But while the nightcap is the game that everyone’s eyes will be fixated on, it’s likely this one could hold the eventual national champion. Both are entering this matchup on nine-game winning streaks after winning their respective conference tournaments. Both clubs haven’t had the most efficient road to New Orleans, especially Kansas. With close victories over Creighton and Providence, the Jayhawks bounced back with an emphatic second half to defeat the Miami Hurricanes in the Elite Eight.
Miami led 40-38 early in the second half before the Jayhawks just erupted and went nuts, outscoring Miami 47-15 in the second half and eventually winning 76-50. Ochai Agbaji finished with a team-high 18 points on 8 of 12 shooting to go with five rebounds, four assists and four steals, while David McCormack finished with 15 points on 6 of 7 shooting.
After a rough start to the game, Kansas finished shooting 50 percent from the field.
"That was about as well as we can play, the second half," coach Bill Self said. "These guys earned it."
This is Kansas’ 16th trip all-time to the Final Four and fourth in Self’s 19 seasons with Kansas. This also sets up a rematch in 2018 with Villanova in which Kansas lost 95-79 and when the Wildcats went on to win their second championship in three seasons.
"I've thought all along that this was a possibility," Self said. "But I've also thought all along that the margin for error wasn't such where we could get loose and have it be a probability."
Villanova has really been a surprise this season. As a No. 2 seed, it’s not the most surprising thing, but I’ve legitimately thought all season that Villanova didn’t have enough in its own conference to pull off what would become a seventh trip to the Final Four for the Wildcats in hopes of another national championship.
The Wildcats are coming off a 50-44 win over a rugged Houston Cougars team that has relied plenty on its athleticism and defense all season. But Houston was held to 29.8 percent shooting and had only seven assists on 17 made baskets during this game.
Jermaine Samuels had a game-high 16 points on 6 of 10 shooting, and Caleb Daniels’ 12 points on 4 of 16 shooting was somehow more than enough to offset a rough 1 of 6 night from star point guard Collin Gillespie in his 36 minutes.
"You just knew watching this team defensively, like you weren't going to come out and just outscore them," Wright said. "We really weren't talking as much at the end about how we were going to score. We were talking about how we were going to stop them."
Stopping them has been the mantra of Villanova despite not having that belief from many that resulted in this surprising run. It makes sense that a team with not much to go off of offensively would rely on its defense to carry the day. And it also makes sense that Kansas opened as 4.5-point favorites with the line not falling off as much as one would expect.
Gillespie needs to play a much better game in order to give Villanova a chance to win. Putting up 50 points is not going to get the job done, even if Kansas is a much better defensive team as evidence of Miami succumbing to that pressure in the Elite Eight. Kansas isn’t the greatest team in terms of finding offense outside of Agbaji, but there’s enough balance to ensure an efficient night for the Jayhawks. Kansas by 9
Villanova is 178-125 ATS since 1997 following a non-conference game.
Villanova is 41-14 ATS since 1997 after three or more consecutive unders.
Villanova is 6-1 ATS this season after five or more consecutive victories.
Kansas is 19-17 ATS as a favorite this season.
The under is 51-30 since 1997 when Kansas plays on five or six days rest.
Projected starting lineup
PG: Collin Gillespie
SG: Justin Moore
SF: Brandon Slater
PF: Jermaine Samuels
C: Eric Dixon
PG: Dajuan Harris Jr.
SG: Ochai Agbaji
SF: Christian Braun
PF: Jalen Wilson
C: David McCormack
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