After months of waiting, the wait is finally over. The number one ranked Kansas Jayhawks are set to face off in a Final Four rematch with the number seventeen ranked Villanova Wildcats this Saturday from inside Allen Fieldhouse. Kansas seeks mid season revenge for the 95-79 Final Four beat down in San Antonio last year where the Wildcats nailed a Final Four record 18 three pointers en route to a 95-79 victory. No, this game will not make up for the heart wrenching Elite Eight loss in 2016 (I was there and it sucked), or the onslaught from behind the arc that took place in San Antonio last April, but it provides extra motivation for this Kansas team to get back on track and heading in the right direction. Here’s what to watch for from Villanova on Saturday:
This Villanova team is vastly different than last year’s National Championship squad. They clearly are missing the veteran leadership and elite guard play that was brought on a nightly basis from Jalen Brunson, and have struggled to find a rhythm on offense this year. Nevertheless, Villanova is led by talented seniors Phil Booth, and Eric Paschall who enter Allen Fieldhouse averaging 15.8 and 14.5 points per game respectively. Villanova will likely play an uptempo game, and attempt to attack Kansas from behind the arc. This Villanova squad is not a tall team, and even with Udoka Azubuike out, Dedric Lawson will still have advantage guarding the paint.
Based from a talent standpoint, Kansas is the better and deeper team. Villanova enters Allen Fieldhouse after suffering an embarrassing loss to Penn on Tuesday night, and having a rough start to the season with losses to Michigan and Furman as well. If Kansas can continue to improve on their three point defense, and take away easy looks from behind the arc, it will be very difficult for Villanova to get momentum going offensively especially in what will be an electric atmosphere inside the Phog. I expect LaGerald Vick to step up big and come alive offensively after a rough week and Dedric Lawson to continue playing at a high level and provide issues for Villanova on the defensive end in the post.
Prediction: Kansas 76 Villanova 65
This game will be a nice feather in the cap for the Jayhawks and help get them trending in the right direction heading towards conference play in January. This is not the final battle in the Kansas Villanova saga, as the ultimate revenge will be handing Jay Wright a beat down in late March or early April in the NCAA Tournament, but for now, this will do.