LAWRENCE, Kan. (WDAF) — The Kansas Jayhawks are the last number 1 seed standing in the NCAA men’s basketball tournament. They face their toughest test of the tournament in the 2 seed Villanova Wildcats in the national semi-final Saturday at 5:09 p.m.
The Wildcats may be the most evenly matched team that the Jayhawks will face all tournament. They have length, they can shoot and they play solid defense just like Kansas, but they don’t have as much length as the Jayhawks.
Unlike the Jayhawks though, they play in Jay Wright’s methodical, slow-paced offense that maximizes getting guards open for shots.
Their leading scorer, Collin Gillespie, a 6’3″ senior out of Huntingdon Valley, Pennsylvania, is averaging around 16 points a game, shoots 43% from the field and 40% from three. Gillespie is coming off of his worst game of the tournament after going 1-6 with only six points against Houston. He may be matched up with KU’s Dajuan Harris.
That matchup will be one to see.
While Gillespie is the leading scorer, Jermaine Samuels gets the motor going for the Wildcats. He’s averaging 17.5 points in his four tournament games along with shooting 63.7% from the field and 50% from three. He is having an incredible run and is an inside-outside scoring for the Wildcats. The 6’7″, 230-pound senior will be put to the test going up against Ochai Agbaji and Christian Braun on the wings.
Villanova lost their second-leading scorer Justin Moore to a torn Achilles, which will certainly alter their seven to eight-man rotation. Senior guard Caleb Daniels is their sixth man off the bench and can be a dangerous shooter. Chris Arcidiacono is their next man off the bench with limited minutes.
Daniels may be the starter in Moore’s place.
In the frontcourt, Eric Dixon and Brandon Slater will bang with Mitch Lightfoot and David McCormack in the post. At 6’7″, 220, Slater has only scored five points in the tournament, but his defensive efforts won’t show up in the stat sheet.
The 6’8″, 255 pound Dixon will be the main big man for Villanova: he’s averaging nine points and seven rebounds a game and his physical play will make for a key matchup to watch after McCormack’s sensational Elite Eight game vs. Miami.
The biggest question going into this game will be who will step for the Wildcats since Moore is done. Daniels, Samuels and Gillespie are pretty capable of filling in his role, but ‘Nova may have some unknown players off the bench that could come through.
With both teams having lots of experience, senior leadership and a limited rotation, this Final Four match should be one for the ages.