Kansas Jayhawks vs. Villanova Wildcats Pick 12/21/19
Kansas Jayhawks (9-1 SU, 6-4 ATS) vs. Villanova Wildcats (8-2 SU, 3-6-1 ATS)
When: Saturday, December 21, Noon
Where: Wells Fargo Center, Philadelphia
Point Spread: KU -2.5/NOVA +2.5 (Best Basketball Lines)
Total: O/U 146.5
Last Time Out:
Kansas routed Missouri-Kansas City 98-57; Villanova edged Delaware 78-70.
Scouting the Jayhawks:
So far, the curse of No. 1 seems to have avoided Lawrence, as Kansas has stepped up its game and pulled off a pair of blowout wins against weak opposition. Success for Kansas is dependent mostly upon the combination of Devon Dotson on the perimeter and Udoka Azubuike on the interior. Between them, the two average 33.8 points a game and serve as the main focus of the Jayhawks’ attack. Dotson has made a big jump as the leader of the Jayhawks’ offense, and he’s yet to score less than 13 points in a contest this season. The one concern is whether that can translate to a true road game. Kansas has yet to play an away game this season (unless you count playing Division II Chaminade in the Maui Invitational, which you absolutely should not). It’s never easy to play a true road game against a good opponent, especially when you’re a team led by an underclassman.
More Picks: OSU/UK Prediction ATS >>>
Scouting the Wildcats:
Has Villanova finally found its third scorer to go along with Collin Gillespie and Saddiq Bey? It’s looking like that might be the case, as Moore has averaged 18 points in the Wildcats’ past four games. However, he’s got to show that he can do it against someone outside of the Wildcats’ lower-level Philadelphia rivals, as his point totals have come against three Big Five schools and Delaware, none of whom should be on Villanova’s level. Against Baylor, the most recent Power 6 opponent that the Wildcats have played, Moore got held scoreless.
Two scorers aren’t going to be enough for the Wildcats to keep pace with Kansas. Bey and Gillespie will get their points, but if Moore can get the scoring going, Villanova should be able to play down to the wire with the Jayhawks.
The crowd. How will Villanova’s crowd respond to this game? Tickets aren’t going for a high price, which suggests that the demand isn’t there to watch the Wildcats on Saturday. Unless all of Philadelphia is too busy worrying about the Eagles’ game against the Cowboys (and given the state of the Eagles, that seems pretty unlikely), that suggests that the enthusiasm won’t be there when the Jayhawks take the court against the Wildcats. Villanova doesn’t always play a lot of games in the Wells Fargo Center, and when the game isn’t sold out, the home-court advantage that they enjoy at Finneran Pavilion isn’t there. If the Jayhawks don’t have noise to deal with, this could be a much easier task.
Kansas will Cover if:
The Jayhawks can force turnovers. The Jayhawks rank in the top 40 in the country in turnovers forced, and Villanova has shown a tendency to cough the ball up against solid defensive opponents. Given that the Wildcats are a pretty guard-heavy team, Kansas has the potential to force quite a few turnovers and score some easy baskets. If that happens, Villanova can’t keep up.
Villanova will Cover if:
The Wildcats can hit their deep shots. Being honest, I don’t think Villanova can stop Kansas. The only team that shoots the ball better than the Jayhawks is Dayton, and while Villanova’s offense is good, it’s not quite on the same level as the Jayhawks, unless it’s hitting its 3-point shots. When Villanova gets rolling, it can get the crowd into the game and keep pace with Kansas. In the Baylor loss, Villanova only hit about one out of three from behind the arc, which isn’t bad, but they allowed the Bears to shoot 57 percent from deep. Kansas shoots it even better than Baylor, which means Villanova is going to have to shoot around 45 percent from deep or step up the defense.
Dan’s Pick to Cover the Spread
I haven’t been impressed with Villanova this season, and I don’t really love the Wildcats’ ball-handling ability in a game like this. I don’t expect Villanova to have a big crowd on their side, and Kansas appears to be playing on another level right now. Given what’s happened with the No. 1 team in recent games, it’s a real concern as to whether the Jayhawks can stay hot in their first road test, but the small spread gives me confidence that Kansas can win its 10th consecutive game. Give me the Jayhawks to get the win in Philly.