Getting to know: Villanova basketball
The Villanova men’s basketball team needs no introduction.
After all, the last time Kansas lost a basketball game was to the defending national champion when Villanova drilled a Final Four record 18 3-pointers to claim a 94-79 win in the semfinals of the NCAA tournament. The Wildcats lead the all-time series by a 4-3 margin, including a 4-2 clip with Jay Wright at the helm.
But both teams are vastly different from the previous meeting, which took place about nine months ago. Kansas returns 53 of the 200 minutes played in that game, while Villanova brings back 96 of its 200 minutes from that contest.
“We lost a lot but they obviously lost a lot, too,” KU coach Bill Self said. “It is two different teams and they are going to be terrific before it is all said and done and hopefully we will continue to get better and work our way towards that as well. But it should be a fun atmosphere."
No. 1 Kansas (8-0) plays host to Villanova (8-3) at 11 a.m. Saturday.
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BREAKING DOWN VILLANOVA
No. 5 — G Phil Booth | 6-3, 190, r-sr.
Through 11 games, Booth is leading the team in scoring with 15.8 points per game and is also pacing the squad with 33 assists.
Booth became the 66th player in program history to record 1,000 points as a Wildcat Tuesday night. Booth scored all 18 of his points in the second half during the team’s 78-75 loss to Penn, which snapped a 25-game winning streak against Big 5 foes.
This season, Booth has scored at least nine points in each game and recorded double-digit efforts in all but two outings. According to KenPom, Booth has been responsible for 26.6 percent of Villanova’s shots this season.
No. 4 — F Eric Paschall | 6-8, 255, r-Sr.
During the early part of the season, Paschall is scoring 14.5 points per game is posting 5.7 rebounds per contest.
Last time out, Paschall was just 3-of-5 from the floor against Penn, including a 1-for-2 clip from beyond the arc. Paschall still ended up with 10 points in the loss, which marked the sixth consecutive game he scored in double figures.
Paschall scored 24 points, going 10-of-11 from the floor with four triples, during Villanova’s win over KU in the Final Four.
“It’s a hard matchup because he probably was the best player for them against us last year, and they had several,” Self said. “He was the best of the best last year against us, he was 4-of-5 from 3 and dominated us on the glass and the thing that he can do is he can post but he can post from 15-feet and back his way down and get to the basket and do a lot of things.”
No. 2 — G Collin Gillespie | 6-3, 183, so.
Gillespie is the third player to average in double figures for the Wildcats, scoring 11.6 points per game.
In his most recent performance, Gillespie scored a career-best 21 points in the loss to Penn. Gillespie knocked down 10-of-11 of his attempts from the free throw line, while logging a 4-for-5 effort from the field.
This season, Gillespie is posting a true shooting percentage of 66.0, which ranks 79th in the nation. True shooting percentage is a measure of shooting efficiency that takes into account field goals, 3-point field goals, and free throws.
No. 15 — F Saddiq Bey | 6-8, 220, fr.
The freshman forward has a quality mid-range game and can make things happen without the ball.
Bey is averaging 7.9 points per game in his rookie campaign, in which he has accumulated 282 total minutes. In his last outing, Bey went 5-for-10 from the floor to record his first double-digit performance since Nov. 23 against Oklahoma State.
ONE THING VILLANOVA DOES WELL
This year’s Villanova team is the perfect example of why basketball teams are shooting more 3-pointers. The Wildcats are shooting 52.3 percent of their shots from beyond the arc, which ranks third in the nation. Despite their pedestrian 34.3 clip from deep, that has benefited them offensively in the long run. It creates space, which leads to Villanova’s 55.7 shooting percentage on 2-point shots.
ONE AREA VILLANOVA STRUGGLES
The Wildcats are struggling on the defensive end through the early part of the season. They are posting an 18.2 turnover rate, a mark that ranks 217th in the nation. According to KenPom, Villanova has a 97.2 adjusted defensive efficiency and that mark ranks 61st in the country.
MEET THE COACH
The Wildcats are coached by Jay Wright, who is 430-168 in his 18th season at Villanova and 552-253 in his 25th season overall. Wright has won a pair of national titles in the last three years.
I’m on a heater. Coming off a win — for what feels like the first time in forever — I feel invincible. That being said, I fully expect to get this pick wrong, and I'd advise fading me if you want to win some money for your holiday shopping.
According to Odds Shark, KU is 7.5-point favorite over Villanova. If Kansas was playing better, I'd be tempted to surrender that many points. But Jay Wright has done well against KU for a reason.
My prediction: Kansas 78, Villanova 72
Record against spread: 3-5