Game to be played at KFC Yum! Center, Louisville, KY
Saturday’s matchup between Kansas and Villanova features the two teams that perhaps have been more impressive than any other in this NCAA Tournament. Yet, the top-seeded Jayhawks and second-seeded Wildcats are vying for one spot in the Final Four when the teams clash in Louisville to determine the South Region champion.
Leading up to this star-studded matchup that features impact players ranging from freshmen to seniors, Kansas has won its first three games by 26, 12 and 16 points, while Villanova has throttled opponents by 30, 19 and 23 to this point in the tournament. “They’re a red-hot team right now,” Kansas coach Bill Self said to reporters. “But, honestly, we’ve been playing pretty well ourselves.” Self is looking to get his Jayhawks to the Final Four for the first time since 2012, while the Wildcats have not reached the national semifinals since 2009. “My first responsibility is to these guys. I would love to see them play in the Final Four,” said Villanova coach Jay Wright, whose team has won 15 of its last 17, although Kansas has captured 17 games in a row.
TV: 8:49 p.m. ET, CBS
LINE HISTORY: Kansas, the South’s No. 1 seed, opened as 2.5-point favorites for the regional final over second-seeded Villanova. The early action was on the Wildcats, moving the number to Jayhawks -2, before bouncing back to the opening number and that is where the line currently sits. Check out the complete line history here.
WHAT SHARPS SAY: “Villanova has shot the lights out in their three tournament games, so regression has to set in at some point. Kansas has yet to be challenged, and their opponent here is very good. But the Jayhawks have an excellent defense that should prevent the Wildcats from shooting a high percentage once again.” – Covers Expert Steve Merril.
ABOUT VILLANOVA (32-5, 18-17-1 ATS, 19-16-1 O/U): The Wildcats put on a shooting clinic in their 93-69 victory over Miami (Fla.) in the Sweet 16, connecting on 62.7 percent of their shots from the field, 10-of-15 from the 3-point line and 18-of-19 from the foul line. “If any team is shooting the way we’re shooting right now, they’ll easily be the most dangerous team in the country,” Villanova forward Daniel Ochefu said to reporters after scoring 17 points, joining three of his teammates in double-figures. “But hopefully, we’ll keep shooting like that, so we can keep playing the way we are.” Fellow senior Ryan Arcidiacono scored 21 points against the Hurricanes and is shooting just over 65 percent from the field (10-of-16 from the arc) in his final NCAA Tournament, while Kris Jenkins is 8-of-11 from long range over the last two games.
ABOUT KANSAS (33-4, 24-11 ATS, 13-21-1 O/U): The Jayhawks defeated the Wildcats in the 2008 Sweet 16 en route to winning the national championship and will have a good chance to top Villanova again if senior Perry Ellis can duplicate his effort against Maryland on Thursday (season high-tying 27 points). Ellis is averaging 23 points in the tournament and leads the team at 17.2 points on the season, but that elusive Final Four is one win away – as Self noted when he said, “This is why (Ellis) came back to school.” Kansas desperately needs more production out of its bench, as the Jayhawks reserves combined to shoot 2-of-9 versus the Terrpains and the unit once again will be without sharpshooter Brannen Greene (back spasms).
* Villanova is 9-2 ATS in its last 11 games after scoring more than 90 points in its previous game.
* Kansas is 14-3 ATS in its last 17 games overall.
* Over is 10-2 in Villanova’s last 12 games overall.
* Under is 12-3-1 in Kansas’ last 16 games vs. a team with a winning percentage above .600.
COVERS CONSENSUS: Bettors are backing Kansas in the South Region Final, with 62 percent of wagers on the Jayhawks. As for the total, bettors are strongly on the over, with 75 percent of wagers on it.
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