After a 31-7 record, a Big 12 regular season and tournament championship, the Kansas Jayhawks were named a 1-seed in the NCAA Tournament.
In the opening round of the tournament, they faced off against a Penn team that many believed could be the first 16-seed to upset a 1-seed in the tournament. After the Quakers got out to an early lead, the Jayhawks quickly shut down any possibility of an upset occurring.
In the Round of 32, they faced the Seton Hall Pirates and narrowly avoided an upset after a monstrous performance by Angel Delgado. In the Sweet 16, they faced a Clemson team that was coming off a dominant performance against Auburn, and were able to pull out another win. Then came a date with the Duke Blue Devils in the Elite Eight. The Jayhawks were able to send the game to overtime after Grayson Allen missed a shot as time expired. In overtime, it was all Malik Newman, as he scored all 13 points for the Jayhawks and carried his team to a matchup with the Villanova Wildcats in the Final Four.
Villanova has been one of the best basketball teams in the nation over the past few season, as they have the most wins by any team over a 4-year span (134 wins over the past 4 seasons). However, both of these teams matchup pretty well statistically. They both shoot around 50 percent from the field and 40 percent from deep. Both teams’ average 36 rebounds per game and turn the ball over around 12 times per game. They also love to shoot from downtown as they both average over 10 made three point field goals per game. The only big differences statistically are that the Wildcats shoot better from the free throw line and average more points per game. This matchup will come down to which team will shoot better from the field and if Kansas can hit their free throws.
Even though Devonte’ Graham has struggled shooting the ball in the past few games, averaging 11.6 points per game while shooting 31 percent from the field, the Kansas Jayhawks have been able to find the open man and continue winning games. Malik Newman has been on fire recently as he is averaging just over 25 points per game while shooting 50 percent from the field over his last three games. If Newman can stay hot, and Graham can find his rhythm, the Jayhawks can beat any team in the country.
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Kansas has been doubted all year and that doubt will certainly not go away as they get ready for their matchup against the Villanova Wildcats. These teams match up very well with each other and Kansas has been playing extremely well, even with Graham having trouble shooting the ball. This game against Villanova will be a good one, and could definitely go either way. Kansas will be going into this game as the underdogs, but don’t call it an upset if they pull out a win.
Devon Auriemma can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org