The Villanova Wildcats have been one of the best teams in the country all season. Now they’re only two wins away from a second title in three years.
The Villanova Wildcats have essentially spent the entire season ranked in the top-five. With guys like Mikal Bridges and Jalen Brunson this team plays on a totally different level than their competition. That’s not to say they can’t be beat, because obviously they can, but it’s definitely a tough task to do so.
The Wildcats take on Kansas in the Final Four, and it’ll be the third straight Big 12 team they’ve faced in this tournament. They’ve played the third-place team, West Virginia, in the Sweet 16, they played the second-place team, Texas Tech, in the Elite Eight and now they get the Big 12 champs. You know what they say, if you want to be the best you have to beat the best.
This team is an offensive nightmare for anyone, and it won’t be any different on Saturday. They’ll give the Jayhawks everything they have to offer for a chance to make it to the title game, and possibly win a second title in three years.
The obvious strength of this team is their offense. They led the country in adjusted offensive efficiency by a wide margin, and averaged over 86 points per game. This team has so many different weapons they can go to on any given night.
One night it can be Jalen Brunson that gets it done or it can be Mikal Bridges the next night. Not only that, but their role guys like Omari Spellman and Donte DiVincenzo have played outstanding throughout the tournament. It’s basically pick your poison with this group.
Whether it’s from 3-point range or in the paint, this is a pretty tough group to stop. But as good as this team is offensively they’re just as good defensively. They’re 13th in the country in adjusted defensive efficiency according to KenPom.
Outside of their game against West Virginia that turned into an absolute track meet, they’ve held each of their tournament opponents to 61 points or less, and they’ve played some good teams. They held Collin Sexton to 17 points, and he had been on an absolute tear coming into that game.
Villanova can get it done on both ends of the court that much is certain.
If you had to nitpick at this team to find a weakness you might go to their rebounding or lack thereof. They only pull down about 36 rebounds per game, and that’s good for a middle of the pack rebounding team.
A little bit of the reason they struggle to rebound is they’re not that big. They don’t have a single player listed over 6-foot-9. Against a really big guy like Kansas’ Udoka Azubuike they might struggle keeping him off the glass in this game.
Let’s face it this team does not have many weaknesses and they’re coached extremely well. So long as they don’t get absolutely abused on the glass and they don’t shoot themselves in the foot they’ll be just fine.
Player to watch
The player to watch for Villanova is obviously Jalen Brunson. The Wildcats go as he goes. Yes, they are a deep team with playmakers all the way around, but Brunson is their floor general. Much like Kansas’ Devonte’ Graham he keeps everything in order.
The junior is a 20-point-per-game scorer, and he can score from just about anywhere on the floor. Graham or whoever Bill Self sends out to guard him is going to have their hands full with Brunson.
He hasn’t really had to shoulder the offensive load in this tournament only scoring 20 points once during in the past four games. The Jayhawks shouldn’t read that much into him not hitting his average because when the bright lights are on he is definitely up to the task. Hopefully the Jayhawks are up to the task defensively.
Biggest key to victory over Kansas
If Villanova wants to beat Kansas they’ll have to run them off the 3-point line. Now that’s definitely easier said than done. Duke tried to run them off the 3-point line in the Elite Eight but it didn’t turn out so well as Kansas still shot 36 percent from 3.
Kansas has made their entire season with their ability to hit the long ball. It helps that they essentially run a four-guard offense, and all four of those guards have the ability to shoot the 3 at a high clip.
If Villanova wants to advance to the National Championship they can’t Kansas get 3’s in transition or wide open looks in their half court sets. If they do that then they’ll put themselves in a good position to win the game.