There are no shocking upsets heading into the South Region’s bracket as the top-seeded Kansas Jayhawks and the second-seeded Villanova Wildcats both advanced to the Elite Eight stage of the NCAA tournament this Thursday.
The Jayhawks and the Wildcats have pretty much coasted through the Big Dance, but perhaps this Saturday’s showdown will pose as the this season’s toughest challenge yet for both sides. Let’s take a closer look at this blockbuster clash below.
We also have another one-versus-two matchup on the card over in the West Region of the bracket on tap, and you can check out our preview for that sizzling bout in Oregon vs. Oklahoma right after this.
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March Madness No. 1 Kansas vs. No. 2 Villanova Preview
Where: KFC Yum! Center, Louisville
When: Saturday, March 26, 8:49 PM ET
Line: Kansas Jayhawks (-2.5) vs. Villanova Wildcats (+2.5); total: 145.5 – view all March Madness lines
TV Broadcast: CBS
Betting on the Kansas Jayhawks
The No. 1. Kansas Jayhawks appear to be as focused as ever, and as clearly evident from their outstanding 79-63 victory over the No. 5 Maryland Terrapins on Thursday.
Kansas’ brightest stars came out and played like beasts, alright. Perry Ellis tied his season-high of 27 points on Thursday (on 10-of-17 shooting from the field), Wayne Selden finished with a superb 19-7-6 line, and Landen Lucas bagged his third-straight double-double in the Big Dance with 14 points and 11 boards.
The team’s defense also stepped up when it mattered the most. The Jayhawks held the Terps to just 40-percent field-goal shooting on the night, including just 8-of-23 in the last 20 minutes of the contest. To add further insult to injury, they also outrebounded Maryland 43-28 on Friday (22-8 in the second half).
With everything clicking right now, there’s little to nothing that other teams can do to stop this impressive Kansas squad. The Jayhawks ranked in the top 20 at both offensive and defensive field goal efficiency this season, and have shown exactly that same form throughout the first three rounds of the tournament.
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Betting on the Villanova Wildcats
The No. 2 Villanova Wildcats finally ended their recent March Madness woes this Thursday, and with another emphatic victory at that. The Wildcats easily defeated the Miami Hurricanes, 92-69, in a game whwere they scored the first eight points and never looked back.
That drubbing of the Canes was the third-straight contest that Nova had won by over 18 points, and the team has handily beaten their three opponents in the tournament by an average of 24 points per game at that.
Thursday night, however, was the Wildcats’ best performance at the Big Dance this season thus far. They shot a blistering 62.7 percent from the floor and a season-high 66.7 percent (10-of-15) from the three-point line to advance to the Elite Eight for the first time since 2009, and also the Regional Final round for just the third time in school history.
Sharpshooters Ryan Arcidiacono and Kris Jenkins lit up the scoreboard with 21 points apiece against Miami, combining for nine of the Wildcats’ 10 made shots from deep. And while the team is finally shooting the ball at a torrid pace, it still has to be cautious about Kansas’ well-balanced attack on Saturday.
With that in mind, it’s best to remind everyone that Villanova is stingy on defense just as well. The Wildcats allowed just 67.6 points per game this season (61st in the nation) with a plus-13.1 point differential (ninth overall). In relation, they have surrendered just 56, 68 and 69 points to UNC-Asheville, No. 7 Iowa and No. 3 Miami, respectively.
These numbers are well-within Nova’s points-allowed season average range, and with even wider margins in each victory to boot. As such, we can all expect an epic fight between two of the hottest schools in the country this Saturday night, alright.
Villanova (+2.5) ekes out a win for the ages, 79-77.