Game 9: No. 17 Villanova at No. 1 Kansas – Preview and Prediction

Despite being ranked No. 1 in all the land, the Kansas Jayhawks have had their fair share of doubters this season and some of them have been warranted. KU hasn’t looked very impressive in a handful of games this season, despite having wins over No. 3 Tennessee and No. 9 Michigan State. Kansas has a chance to put some of those doubters to rest on Saturday when the defending national champion, Villanova Wildcats come to Allen Fieldhouse.

AUDIO PREVIEW: LINK (go to 58:40 mark of podcast)

Game Info and Notes:

  • Saturday, December 15, 2018 at 11:00 AM CDT
  • Allen Fieldhouse, Lawrence, Kan.
  • ESPN or the WatchESPN App
  • This will mark the third time in the arena’s 63 years that KU will host the defending NCAA champion at Allen Fieldhouse. KU fell to the 1962 champion Cincinnati, 64-49, on Dec. 16, 1962, and defeated the 1995 champion UCLA Bruins, 85-70, on Dec. 1, 1995
  • Kansas and Villanova are meeting for the eighth time in men’s basketball with the last meeting in the 2018 Final Four semifinals, a Villanova 95-79 win in San Antonio. Villanova has a 4-3 series advantage over KU.
  • Kansas is looking to go 9-0 for the first time since the 2010-11 team opened the season 18-0. A 9-0 record would be the fifth in head coach Bill Self’s 16 seasons at KU (14-0 in 2004-05, 20-0 in 2007-08, 14-0 in 2009-10 and 18-0 in 2010-11).
  • At 8-0, Kansas is one of nine teams in NCAA Division I still undefeated.
  • Kansas is 46-3 in Allen Fieldhouse when it is the No. 1 team in the Associated Press poll, including 20-0 under Bill Self. The Jayhawks have won 38-straight in Allen Fieldhouse when ranked No. 1 dating back to the 1994-95 season.
  • Kansas is the only team in the Big 12 with two players ranked in the top five in the league in scoring. Redshirt junior F Dedric Lawson is third at 19.1 ppg, while senior G Lagerald Vick is fifth at 16.3 ppg.
About Villanova

The Wildcats thrashed the Jayhawks in the Final Four last season, but that was a whole different team. Gone is Jalen Brunson. Gone is Omari Spellman. Gone is is Mikal Bridges. Gone is Donte DiVencenzo. They do bring back Eric Paschall and Phil Booth. ‘Nova comes into this matchup limping, as the Wildcats lost to Penn on Tuesday night — their first Big Five loss in 25 tries. The Wildcats have also dropped contests to Michigan and Furman this season. This is probably the weakest Villanova team in quite some time. 

Wildcats to Watch

Phil Booth – 6’3′, senior, guard

Booth has taken over as the leading scorer for Villanova this season, upping his scoring average from 10.0 PPG last season to 15.8 PPG this year. Booth is shooting 36% from the outside this season. He also averaging 6.5 three-point attempts this season. Booth is also leading the Wildcats in assists with 3.0 APG.

Eric Paschall – 6’8′, senior, forward

Paschall is ‘Nova’s best post player, as he’s second on the team in scoring (14.5 PPG) and rebounding (5.7 RPG). He’s recorded double-figures in all but two games this season, so he will get his. Without Udoka Azubuike, Dedric Lawson will most likely garner this matchup. Lawson hasn’t been the best defender this season, so minutes from Mitch Lightfoot could be in order again. 

Prediction

Kansas 79 – Villanova 70

With a week between games and a big name program like Villanova coming into Allen Fieldhouse, I expect the Jayhawks to come out refreshed and motivated to play a complete game.  

I like this matchup for Lagerald Vick. I don’t like Nova’s talent on the wings as much as I did in the past. Vick only scored 5 points against New Mexico State, but impacted the game in other ways with assists and rebounds. 

As I alluded to before, I think we’ll see some pretty big minutes from Mitch Lightfoot. He always gives KU a spark off the bench, and I expect more of the same from him against Villanova.

‘Nova is not the same caliber team they have been the past three seasons. I see this game very much for the taking for KU. Although this will be a late mid-morning game, Allen Fieldhouse will be rocking. Give me Kansas to win, and also not give us too many heart attacks along the way. 

Bobby Norell

My name is Bobby Norell. I'm from a small town in northern Indiana. I recently graduated from Indiana University with a degree in Sport Communication. Even though my diploma says I'm a Hoosier, my love for the Jayhawks has never wavered. They'll always come No.1.