#2 Villanova vs. #2 Oklahoma. While the Wildcats of Villanova aren’t being billed as a team with a true “star”, there’s a whole lot more than meets the eye. Conversely, the Oklahoma Sooners are led (and sometimes carried) by Naismith runner-up Buddy Hield. Neither team is going to overwhelm you, but both are sure to impress.
Jordan Woodard has been arguably the most important player in this stretch run for the Sooners. He’s played top-notch defense as a perimeter defender and he’s shot well from deep, taking some pressure and attention off of Hield. For Oklahoma to come through in this game, he’s going to need to continue that play to the end. Ryan Spangler could also be that guy if he gets going. But neither team is loaded up front so it’s not a necessity for either team to receive stellar front-court play.
If Buddy Hield is scoring in bunches on the other end of the court, Villanova is going to look for the kind of energy and effort that guys like Josh Hart and Mikal Bridges were able to give on the wing as defenders and shooting. Kris Jenkins is likely to be a guy that will make life difficult for the aforementioned Spangler. He’s burly but quicker than expected. He’s got solid range and can bang down low. Both he and Daniel Ochefu have been known to go off from time to time. If that happens, it will be tough for the Sooners to keep up without a monster game from Buddy Hield.
The Sooners are very good when they are at their best and very stagnant when they aren’t. If Hield isn’t as efficient as Oklahoma would like then it’s imperative that the production comes from Woodard or Isaiah Cousins. If Spangler and/or a surprise reserve are able to contribute then this game could fall in their favor. However, Villanova has been great on the wing/backcourt and they have really protected the ball well. Villanova 72, Oklahoma 64.