The first of the Final 4 games on Saturday, April 2nd features the Kansas Jayhawks facing off against the Villanova Wildcats. This game is being played at 6:09PM ET at the Caesars Superdome in New Orleans, Louisiana.
Fun fact: both times Villanova won the NCAA championship (2016 and 2018) they beat a 1 seed Kansas on their route to the title. In a weird twist of fate, of course Villanova once again find themselves matching up against a top seed Kansas one win away from the finals.
Another fun fact: Villanova seems to dominate even year tournaments. They won the title in 2016 and 2018, then COVID cancelled the 2020 NCAA tournament but they won the Big East tournament that year, and again here they are in 2022 on the precipice of another title.
Standing in their way, of course, is this Kansas team who is a 1 seed for a reason. Will fate hold true and Villanova continues their seemingly destiny to another even-year title, or will Kansas play spoiler? Well, let’s get into it.
Starting with Kansas – they put the rest of the country on notice with their 2nd half performance in the Elite 8 against Miami. They started slow and found themselves down by 6 at halftime, but responded with probably the most impressive half a team has played so far in this tournament coming out of the locker room.
They outscored Miami by 32 points in the 2nd half, comfortably winning the game by 26 points. They were led by their tenacious defense that forced Miami into 4 turnovers in the first 5 minutes of the half, turning a 6 point deficit into a 5 point lead in that 5 minute span. The game was never really close from then on.
If Kansas can play like that the rest of the way then they will be close to impossible to beat. They are led by guards Remy Martin and Ochai Agbaji, as well as big man David McCormack. They’ve always had the talent, and that second half against Miami showed what they are capable of when they play their best.
Villanova will certainly have their hands full. Especially after losing star guard Justin Moore to a torn achilles. It feels wrong starting off the Villanova analysis with an injury, but they already play with a short rotation that losing one contributor and especially one as important as Moore is tough to overcome. Head coach Jay Wright mostly only plays 6 deep when they have Moore healthy, so it will be interesting to see what he does on Saturday with his rotation.
No matter how you slice it, losing someone like Moore could be a death sentence against Kansas.
Villanova certainly won’t lay down and die, though. They still have Collin Gillespie and Jermaine Samuels, the latter whom led the Wildcats in scoring against Houston. They also play excellent team defense. The defense is what won them the game against Houston in the Elite 8.
They held Houston to 44 points, and 5% shooting from deep. Kansas certainly won’t shoot that poorly, but that wasn’t solely poor shooting from Houston. Villanova’s tight defense had a lot to do with that.
I hate seeing an injury have such a big impact on such an important game, but I just don’t see Villanova being able to keep up with Kansas. Even with a healthy Moore I would probably like Kansas, so losing him is too tough to overcome.
So, with that said, I am going to stick with Kansas moneyline here. I have enough faith in Jay Wright and Villanova’s toughness to make this game close that taking the 4 point spread does make me a tad nervous.
Kansas Jayhawks vs Villanova Wildcats Pick:
My official Final 4 betting pick for this game is to take Kansas moneyline. I bet this at -180 odds on DraftKings Sportsbook.