#1 Kansas vs. #2 Villanova. In one regard, the comprehensive win by Kansas over Maryland made the Jayhawks look virtually unbeatable. They took the best effort the Terrapins could muster (with some questionable first-half calls) and still had a 2 point lead. Then they blew open the game in the second half. But then you consider what the Wildcats of Villanova were able to do against a Miami team that came off a very impressive 2nd round win.
These teams are built similarly, Kansas just has more of everything. The Jayhawks play with 3 guards and the Wildcats play with 3 guards. The Jayhawks have decent-sized bigs and so do the Wildcats, but all of them have good range (save maybe Ochefu). And all of the bigs, and guards alike, are effective rebounders.
There really isn’t much difference in starting 5s between the teams, though Kansas’ is obviously a little more talented. Again, the depth that Kansas has will help if Brannen Greene is available (and trying his hardest) or if any of the bigs are needed in a pinch.
Villanova will need their limited bench to shine when it can and display the kind of effort they had against Miami. If you watched closely, they had guys diving all over the court the entire game. You could tell they wanted to be there and wanted to keep going. But it’s tough to tell what part was Villanova dominating and what was Miami self-sabotaging.
Both Kris Jenkins and Jalen Brunson need to show up tonight. Brunson was limited partially because of his play but also because of Mikael Bridges. He’s a solid ball handler and can score but must be assertive. Jenkins needs to use his big body down low but also show his versatility on the outside.
Devonte Graham played Melo Trimble very well and focused more on defense than his offensive game. I wouldn’t be surprised to see that flip a bit. Wayne Selden will still be the go-to perimeter guy but Graham should have a good shooting night. If anyone had a “bad” night against Maryland, it was Jamari Traylor. The undersized power foward took some open jumpers that the Terps gave him, but that’s not his game. He also picked up 4 fouls in just 10 minutes. If Traylor can provide a good 15 minutes AND positive energy then they Jayhawks will be pleased.
If foul trouble and depth play into the game then this will go Kansas’ way. If the Wildcats space the floor and slow the game down then this might go Villanova’s way. Lead guards Frank Mason and Ryan Arcidiacono can play high-level basketball. And if both are playing well then who knows what will happen. Kansas 80, Villanova 68