Editorial by Graydon Fox
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On Saturday, March 31st, the #1 seed Villanova Wildcats will take on the #1 seed Kansas Jayhawks in the Final Four of the 2018 NCAA Basketball Tournament.
“The Crowd” projects a final score of Villanova 78.1 – Kansas 75.5 with an over/under of 153.6.
Statistics (2017-18 season):
Point differential: Villanova +16.4 > Kansas +10.2
Points per game: Villanova 86.6 > Kansas 81.4
Points allowed per game: Villanova 70.2 > Kansas 71.2
Field Goal Percentage Offense: Villanova 49.9% > Kansas 49.3%
Field Goal Percentage Defense: Kansas 42.3% > Villanova 42.7%
Three Point Percentage: Kansas 40.3% > Villanova 40.0%
Turnovers per game: Villanova 10.6 > Kansas 11.8
Rebounds per game: Villanova 36.0 > Kansas 35.7
Assists per game: Kansas 16.9 > Villanova 16.5
Villanova advanced to the Final Four after defeating Radford, Alabama, West Virginia, and Texas Tech by double digits. Villanova leads the nation in scoring (86.6) and has six players averaging double figures. The Wildcats are led by first team All-American Jalen Brunson (19.2 PPG, 4.6 APG) who shot 52.7% from the field and 41.4% from three-point range. Mikal Bridges (17.8 PPG and 5.4 RPG) can score at will and Donte DiVincenzo (12.9 PPG and 3.5 APG) is the team’s second leading assist man. Villanova ranks 6th in the nation in field goal percentage offense (49.9%) and 19th in three-point shooting (40.0%). The Wildcats really take care of the basketball ranking 14th in fewest turnovers (10.6 TPG). Villanova is (5-0) against ranked opponents this season.
Kansas advanced to the Final Four after beating Penn, Seton Hall, Clemson, and Duke. Interestingly, three of the four Kansas victories were decided by five points or fewer. Kansas ranks 29th in the country in scoring (81.4 PPG) and has five players averaging double digit points. The Jayhawks have their own first team All-American in Devonte Graham (17.2 PPG and 7.3 APG). Sviatoslav Mykhailliuk (14.7 PPG and 2.7 APG) is one of the more skilled shooters in the country (44.7% from three). Malik Newman (14.0 PPG) is a gifted scorer from all levels while Udoka Azubuike (13.1 PPG and 7.1 RPG) is a force on the interior. Kansas is 13th in the nation in assists (16.9 APG) and 11th in scoring efficiency (49.3%). The Jayhawks shoot well from the perimeter (40.3%) as well. Kansas is certainly battle tested going (8-3) against ranked opponents this season.
These two teams are mirror images of one another with elite offenses that score from all levels of the floor, share the ball, and commit few turnovers. Villanova has the slight edge in most of the major statistical categories including points scored, points allowed, turnovers, and rebounding. The size for Kansas on the interior could give Villanova problems so they will have to shoot much better from the perimeter than they did against Texas Tech. I anticipate this being a close game and if that’s the case Villanova has a significant advantage at the free throw line (78% > 70%). Villanova is the more efficient team and will narrowly defeat Kansas to advance to the National Championship.
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