Villanova Wildcats at Kansas Jayhawks Final Four Pick
The top-seeded Villanova Wildcats and similarly No. 1 seeded Kansas Jayhawks will both be looking to advance to the national championship when they square off in their Final Four matchup on Saturday. If you’re looking to find out just which team is going to win, advance or cover the chalk, consider your ticket punched.
— Villanova MBB (@NovaMBB) March 29, 2018
What: Villanova Wildcats (34-4) at Kansas Jayhawks (31-7)
When: Saturday, March 31, 2018, at 8:49 PM ET
When: Alamodome, San Antonio, Texas
Stream: March Madness
NCAAB Odds: Villanova -5
Kansas reached the Final Four by smacking Penn around in their opener 76-60 – and then recording each of their last three NCAA Tournament wins by an identical four points as they beat Seton Hall 83-79, Clemson, 80-76 and Duke 85-81 in the Elite Eight. More importantly, the Jayhawks are playing their best basketball of the season at just the right time, having won seven straight games and 12 of their last 13 games overall. Kansas averages a healthy 81.4 points per game to rank 29th in the nation I scoring while shooting a scorching 49.3 percent from the field (12th) and 40.3 percent from beyond the arc (11th).
The Jayhawks have five players averaging double figures in scoring this season and were solid defensively in limiting their opponents to 71.3 points per game (149th) on 42.3 percent shooting from the field (74th) and 32.7 percent from beyond the arc (55th). Keep in mind though, that the Jayhawks have not won more than seven consecutive games this season which is the exact number of victories they’ll take into their Final Four matchup.
Top-seeded Villanova started off the year by winning their first 13 games and 22 of their first 23 games overall. Now, heading into the Final Four, the Wildcats have won nine straight games, including an 87-61 win over Radnor in their opener, an 81-58 smackdown of Alabama in the second round, a 90-78 win over West Virginia in the Sweet 16 and a 71-59 beatdown over Texas Tech in the Elite Eight.
Villanova ranked first in the country in scoring by putting up a stupendous 86.6 points per game while also ranking sixth in field goal shooting percentage (49.9%) and 19th in three-point shooting (40.0%). The Wildcats are also very good defensively as they limit their opponent to a modest 70.0 points per game and just 32.3 percent shooting from beyond the arc (33rd).
Villanova has a Player of the Year candidate in junior point guard and leading scorer Jalen Brunson (19.2 ppg), a sure-fire lottery pick in, 6-6 swingman Mikal Bridges (17.8 ppg) and a five-star freshman big man in Omari Spellman, not to mention, another trio of players that can all hurt opponents with their shooting and smart play in Donte DiVincenzo, Eric Paschall and Phil Booth.
I haven’t been really impressed with Kansas’ last three wins while, conversely, I’ve been super impressed Villanova’s last two wins, which both came by double digits despite the fact that the Wildcats clearly didn’t play their best basketball in either contest.
For this Final Four showdown, I think Villanova is the easy pick simply because they’ve problem solved their way to victory each and every game and just have too many gifted players for their opponents. It’s kind of hard to stop a team that can score the ball efficiently no matter which player you throw the ball to.
Villanova has gone a perfect 4-0 ATS in their last 4 NCAA Tournament games, 5-1 ATS in their last 6 games following an ATS win, 23-8 ATS in their last 31 games vs. a team with a winning straight up record and a bankroll-boosting 21-8 ATS in their last 29 neutral site games. Kansas is 5-2 ATS in their last seven neutral site games, but the Jayhawks are an uninspiring 4-10 ATS in their last 14 games against teams from the Big East. Villanova wins and advances.
Pick: Villanova -5