The boys’s Ultimate 4 will get underway from New Orleans Saturday night time at 6:09 p.m. ET when top-seeded Kansas takes on second-seeded Villanova in a rematch of a nationwide semifinal from 2018. ‘Nova ran away with that one, 95-79, and went on to thump Michigan within the nationwide title sport two days later.
There are many causes to consider that Saturday’s showdown can be a lot nearer, and likewise a lot decrease scoring. Earlier than the motion contained in the Superdome will get going, listed here are three issues you have to learn about Saturday’s first Ultimate 4 matchup.
Kansas is chasing the championship it feels it could have had two years in the past
The Jayhawks have performed down the “retribution” angle all week, however it’s not misplaced on anybody that Kansas is 2 wins away from the nationwide championship it appeared it might need been on the verge of touchdown earlier than the 2020 NCAA match was canceled on account of COVID.
Earlier than the world stopped, that Kansas workforce was 28-3, had gained 16 consecutive video games, and was virtually actually on the verge of being named the NCAA match’s No. 1 general seed. Ochai Agbaji, David McCormack and Christian Braun have been all main contributors on that workforce, though none of them have been enjoying fairly as giant a task as they’re this season.
Curiously sufficient, it’s been a participant with a particularly restricted quantity of NCAA match expertise who has fueled the Jayhawks’ run up thus far.
Remy Martin performed 4 seasons at Arizona State earlier than coming to Lawrence to wrap up his faculty profession. His solely expertise with March Insanity as a Solar Satan was a pair of First 4 video games in Dayton and a blowout loss to Buffalo within the first spherical in 2019.
Martin, who got here to Kansas with a fame for being a feast or famine sort participant, has predictably had one thing of an up-and-down marketing campaign. He’s averaging a career-low in factors (8.6 ppg), has been coming off the bench for the primary time since his freshman 12 months, needed to battle again from a knee damage in February, and was rumored to be at odds with the remainder of this system in the midst of the season (Invoice Self dismissed these rumors in mid-January, however they persevered).
In March, nevertheless, Martin appeared like a very completely different participant. Regardless of coming off the bench, he was named the Most Excellent Participant of the Midwest Regional after averaging 16.8 factors and three.3 assists in Kansas’ first 4 wins. Maybe simply as importantly, he solely dedicated 4 complete turnovers in the course of the regional.
Martin wasn’t round for the frustration felt all through The Sunflower State two years in the past, however he might play a significant function in serving to to patch up that wound.
Villanova can be with out its second-leading scorer
This subject has been addressed by roughly 15,000 folks at this level, however it’s unattainable to preview this sport with out addressing it.
This Villanova workforce doesn’t have the absurd offensive firepower that its final two championship groups possessed. The firepower that it does have took a major hit when second main scorer Justin Moore (14.8 ppg) tore his Achilles tendon in ‘Nova’s regional remaining win over Houston. Moore additionally second on the workforce in assists (2.3 ppg) and third in rebounds (4.8).
Maybe extra essential than all of the offensive numbers is the truth that Moore has been extensively seen to be Villanova’s prime defender all season. His defensive prowess has been on full show all through this match, the place the Wildcats haven’t allowed a single opponent to attain greater than 61 factors, and superior to the Ultimate 4 with a 50-44 win over Houston the place the Cougars have been held to only 1-of-20 capturing from three.
Jay Wright has used a brief bench all through the postseason. Solely six Villanova gamers had seen the ground within the sport towards Houston earlier than Moore went down. Within the Wildcats’ Candy 16 win over Michigan, Wright performed eight gamers, however solely six of them have been on the courtroom for greater than three minutes.
The bench will virtually actually play a bigger function towards Kansas, however the query is the place these minutes are going to go. Including to the issue is the truth that freshman Jordan Longino, a participant who would have been in line for extra minutes with Moore out, tore his meniscus throughout a March observe and can also be unavailable.
With out Moore, somebody from the group of Chris Arcidiacono, Bryan Antoine and Trey Patterson might want to step up considerably. The most certainly candidate is Arcidiacono, if solely as a result of there’s some precedent there. The youthful brother of ‘Nova legend Ryan Arcidiacono performed 26 massive minutes in an 85-74 win over UConn on Feb. 5 the place Moore was sidelined by a sprained ankle. Arcidiacono has scored simply two factors within the NCAA match up thus far, however he takes care of the ball and defends properly sufficient to seemingly be Wright’s most suitable choice towards Kansas.
Villanova’s free-throw capturing could possibly be the distinction in an in depth sport
If Saturday night time’s sport comes right down to the wire and the ultimate minute or minutes find yourself turning right into a free-throw capturing contest, Villanova is the protected wager.
Not solely are the Wildcats the perfect free-throw capturing workforce within the nation, they’re at present the perfect free-throw capturing workforce within the historical past of faculty basketball. ‘Nova is at present capturing 83.0 p.c from the charity stripe. Except that drops considerably this weekend in New Orleans, the Wildcats will break the 1983-84 Harvard Crimson’s all-time report of 82.2 p.c.
At 75.0 p.c, Moore was truly the worst free-throw shooter of Villanova’s core group of contributors. Collin Gillespie (90.5%), Jordan Slater (87.8%), Caleb Daniels (85.1%), Eric Dixon (82.5%) and Jermaine Samuels (77.5%), all shoot an absurdly excessive share from the stripe and have been lights out from the road in late-game conditions.
The best way to watch Kansas vs. Villanova in males’s 2022 Ultimate 4
You’ll be able to watch Kansas vs. Villanova within the males’s Ultimate 4 on Saturday, April 2 on TBS.
Recreation: No. 2 Villanova vs. No. 1 Kansas
Time: 6:09 p.m. ET