Villanova vs Kansas
Where: Alamodome, San Antonio
SAN ANTONIO – The NCAA Tournament has been as wild as ever, but there is some stability in San Antonio, as No. 1 seeds Villanova and Kansas square off Saturday in an intriguing Final Four matchup. The teams each have one of the five Wooden Award finalists at point guard, with Villanova’s Jalen Brunson and Kansas’ Devonte’ Graham leading their respective teams into this star-studded clash.Brunson has guided the Wildcats into the Final Four for the second time in three seasons despite scoring 16 points or fewer in three of the team’s first four games in this event and not racking up more than four assists in any NCAA Tournament contest. “The outside thinks about this one-on-one matchup between me and Devonte’,” Brunson told reporters. “I just really focus on Villanova versus Kansas.” Graham, a senior whose team had lost in the Elite Eight each of the previous two years, has yet to shoot above 40 percent in any of the four tournament games, although fortunately Malik Newman has stepped up to shoulder the scoring load. Newman scored all 13 of the Jayhawks’ points in overtime against Duke in the Elite Eight, finishing with a career-high 32 to help Kansas reach the Final Four for the second time since winning the 2008 title.
TV: 8:49 p.m. ET, TBS
ABOUT VILLANOVA (34-4): The Wildcats have won their four tournament games by 26, 23, 12 and 12 points, but the Elite Eight win over Texas Tech followed a different formula than the first three games. Villanova shot only 33.3 percent against the Red Raiders and finished with 71 points – well below the team’s country-leading average of 86.6 points – and they also shot just 4-of-24 from behind the 3-point line – highly uncharacteristic for a team that shoots 40 percent from long range overall. Mikal Bridges missed all five of his 3-point attempts, ending his streak of 11 straight games with at least three 3s, including 10 contests in which he made at least 40 percent of his shots from beyond the arc.
ABOUT KANSAS (31-7): The Jayhawks have five double-digit scorers on the season – including Graham, who is part of a four-guard attack, and big man Udoka Azubuike, who is rounding into form after missing the Big 12 Tournament with a knee injury. Newman has made 13 3-pointers in the last three games, averaging nearly 26 points per game in that stretch, and Lagerald Vick has been consistent with either 13 or 14 points in all four games of the tournament. Sviatoslav Mykhailiuk notched 11 points, 10 rebounds and five assists against Duke, but the Jayhawks’ fate likely will come down to Graham, who had a game-high 17 points two years ago when Kansas was upended by Villanova in the Elite Eight.
1. Villanova is one win away from tying the school record of 35 set by the 2016 national championship team.
2. Azubuike is shooting 77.2 percent from the field this season – by far the best in the nation.
3. The winner of this game will return to the court for Monday’s championship game against either Michigan or Loyola-Chicago.