Kansas vs. Villanova may look like the appetizer for what many expect to be the most anticipated college basketball game in decades, but in reality, it features two elite programs vying for another chance at a national championship.
The Jayhawks, coached by Bill Self, are back in the Final Four for the third time in the past decade and are riding the nation’s longest win streak (nine games).
Kansas hasn’t reached the championship game since 2012 when it fell to Kentucky, also in New Orleans, and has not won a national championship since 2008, when it defeated Memphis in a classic final in San Antonio.
The Wildcats are back in the Final Four for the third time in the past six tournaments and have won the national championship in each of coach Jay Wright‘s previous two trips. Villanova last cut down the nets in 2018 but also did so in 2016.
Kansas vs. Villanova Odds
Kansas vs Villanova March Madness odds are provided by Caesars and are current as of March 28 at 11 a.m. ET.
- Moneyline:Kansas (-200) vs Villanova (+170)
- Spread: Kansas -4.5 (-110) vs Villanova +4.5 (-110)
- Over/Under: Over 133 (-110) / Under 133 (-110)
- Implied Score: Kansas 68.75, Villanova 64.25
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Kansas vs. Villanova Prediction
The second-seeded Wildcats are flying under the radar while sharing the Final Four stage with three bona fide bluebloods. Still, Villanova is as consistent a program as it comes and should be prepared, especially defensively against the high-flying Jayhawks.
However, the Wildcats suffered a colossal loss when their second-leading scorer, Justin Moore, tore his Achilles tendon in the second half of their 50-44 Elite 8 win over Houston. Moore averaged almost 15 points and five rebounds per game in the regular season and scored 13 per game in the tournament.
- Get the lowdown on the other Final Four game in our Duke vs UNC prediction.
Kansas averaged more than 78 points per game this season, good for 24th in the nation, and was the only team to score 75-plus against Texas Tech in a game until Duke did so in the Sweet 16. The Jayhawks are averaging 76 points per game in the NCAA tournament, which is exactly the number they scored in their 76-50 win over Miami on Sunday.
The Jayhawks had four players average double-figure scoring during the regular season, led by Ochai Agbaji, who scored more than 18 per game. Agbaji has averaged just 12.3 points per game in the tournament, yet Kansas has been picked up by guys like Remy Martin, the breakout star of the tournament.
Martin is scoring 16.8 points per game in the tournament after averaging just 8.6 during the regular season.
Still, Villanova is stifling defensively and ranked 19th in the country in points-against per game (62.2) while coming out of the Big East.
Villanova ranked 38th in the country in opposing field-goal percentage in the regular season (.404) and is holding its opponents to just 37.3 percent shooting in the NCAA tournament, including a masterful performance holding fifth-seeded Houston to just 29.8 percent shooting in the Wildcats’ 50-44 upset win in the Elite 8.
The Wildcats can grind out games and shorten them by running their half-court offense, which, by the way, is sneaky effective given the fact they had four players average double figures during the regular season (led by Moore and fifth-year guard Collin Gillespie, who averaged 15.6 per game).
If the game is close late, it’s worth noting that Villanova ranked first in the nation in free-throw percentage (83.0%), led by Gillespie (.906), senior forward Brandon Slater (.878) and redshirt sophomore forward Eric Dixon (.825).
Kansas vs Villanova Score Pick
Kansas 65, Villanova 58
Kansas is averaging just 69 points per game in its six losses and scored just 66 in its other game against Big East opposition (Sweet 16 against Providence) this season. The nerves and the depth effect of shooting in a football stadium for the first time in many of these players’ careers could also impact shooting in this one.
The Jayhawks fell behind against Miami before roaring back in the second half, outscoring the Hurricanes 47-15. Villanova is much more fundamentally sound, though, and shouldn’t be bullied into turnovers or poor shot selection like Miami was.
The Wildcats averaged just 9.9 turnovers per game, the 16th-best mark in the nation, and if the game gets close they should also have an edge in Wright, who is 4-1 in five career Final Four games, including a win over Self and Kansas in the 2018 national semifinal.
Still, the loss of Moore is probably too much for Villanova to overcome.
Kansas vs Villanova Best Bets
UNDER 133 Total Points (-110) at Caesars
WAGER: 1 Unit
The game should be close-ish, and we alluded to the depth-perception issues each inexperienced offense might have. Plus, there will undoubtedly be nerves since Gillespie is the only player from either side to previously suit up in the Final Four.
The Under has hit in three of Kansas’ four tournament games and each of the past three Villanova tournament games, too. Without Moore, Villanova will likely try to play even more deliberately, which should only drive down the tempo.
I’m going with the Under in today’s CBB bet of the day.