(12) Villanova Wildcats (22-12), +11.5, o/u 144 vs. (1) Kansas Jayhawks (33-3), -11.5, o/u 144, Ford Field, Detroit, Michigan, 9:40 p.m. Eastern, Friday
by Oracle of Predictem.com
The Villanova Wildcats were one of the last teams the selection committee let into the field of 65. They’ve already shown why they belong.
Friday’s contest between the Wildcats and Kansas Jayhawks will be the second 1 vs. 12 match up in the Sweet 16. Villanova enters Friday night’s game in Detroit after a big comeback in their first round game against Clemson and a rather easier victory against Siena in the second round.
Kansas has lived up to their first seed billing by blasting Portland State by 24 points and eventually staving off UNLV, 75-56.
Many online sportsbooks have Kansas opening up as favorites -11.5. That line has moved up at some sites a full point to Kansas -12.5. The over/under opened at 144 as well.
Kansas will try to stymie the Wildcats offense, starting with Scottie Reynolds, because as he goes, Villanova goes. Reynolds has averaged 23 points during the first two rounds, including an 8-for-12 mark from beyond the arc. Reynolds leads the team in scoring (16 points), assists (3.3) and steals (1.4) per game.
If Villanova wants to stay in this game, though, it’ll be their defense that makes it happen. They give up nearly 70 points per game on the year and let teams shoot 36.4% from the three-point line.
If anyone can take advantage of this, it will be the Jayhawks.
Kansas downed 12 three-pointers in their first game against Portland State and Mario Chalmers and Brandon Rush are two of the better three-point shooters in the country. Both of these players have done what they’ve been asked, but it’s been a couple of role players that will determine if they can get by Villanova and eve beyond.
Sherron Collins has been a spark off the bench since his return from an injury. Collins scored 10 points against UNLV and played some stellar defense along the way. Russell Robinson is also an overlooked figure, although he is known as the best defender the Jayhawks have.
Villanova saw a big positive against Siena in their second round game, getting a lift from not only Reynolds, but Corey Stokes (20 points) and Dante Cunningham (14 points) as well.
Look for a rapid pace in this game from both teams, as they like to get it up and down the court.
The over/under total of 144 points doesn’t seem like a huge number, but in Kansas’ first two rounds, they came in under the set point total. The under is also 4-0 in their last four overall tournament games.
There is a contrast to that, conversely, as the over is 6-1 in the last seven games for Kansas when they play a Big East opponent.
Although Kansas has a big over trend against the Big East, they’re record against the spread in that time isn’t a good one, standing at 0-5.
With Villanova winning five of its last six games of the year, it’s not surprise to see their record ATS at a 5-1 mark over those six contests.
Villanova looks to get the second Big East team into Elite 8 status, but Kansas has their eyes on the prize.
Oracle’s Pick: With Villanova playing so well as of late, it’s hard to see them lose by that many points in this contest. Take the Wildcats plus all those points!