With chalk holding true in the South Region, the #1 overall seed Kansas Jayhawks face a very tough #2 seed in Villanova Wildcats in tomorrow’s Elite 8 contest.
In order to break down this matchup, I went to the archives for the last time they played each other which was November 29, 2013 in the Battle 4 Atlantis Tournament, a game which unranked Villanova beat the #2 raked Jayhawks, 63-59.
It is worth noting that Kansas boasts six returning players from that 2013-14 roster (Perry Ellis, Wayne Selden Jr., Frank Mason III, Brannen Greene, Jamari Traylor and Landen Lucas), four of whom start. Villanova on the other hand has three returning players: Daniel Ochefu, Ryan Arcidiacono and Josh Hart.
Kansas had a great start to the game, scoring their first bucket off a BLOB Box Flex set. However, although Kansas had an early 11-2 lead with under 15 minutes to go in the first half, they never really found an offensive rhythm. This was largely due to the fact that they were in foul trouble from the opening tip. In fact, Villanova was in the bonus at the 13:25 mark of the 1st half. Although ‘Nova and Kansas both made 9 free throws (VU: 9-16 FT, KU: 9-11 FT) the foul trouble to really put KU on its heels and disrupted their offensive rhythm throughout the half.
Kansas was attempting to go inside, early and often to graduate transfer Tariq Black, Ellis, Traylor and freshman sensation Joel Embiid, but their foul trouble hindered this as the half went on (Here is a Pick and Roll Throwback Punch that was effective in getting a paint touch).
Defensively, Villanova successfully employed a 1-2-2 3/4 court press and also applied some token man-t0-man pressure to slow the game down, which the fouls accomplished as well. The pressure definitely bothered KU as freshmen Andrew Wiggins and Wayne Selden Jr. who had four of the team’s 11 1st half turnovers. These turnovers resulted in 14 points for the Wildcats.
Once Villanova tied the game up, they began to execute their 4-out 1-in Motion Offense:
Kansas’ 12 team fouls also allowed Villanova to execute their BLOB calls as well:
In addition, freshman phenom Andrew Wiggins was “out physicaled” during the half and was largely ineffective.
Villanova’s physical presence and their ability to get to almost every 50/50 ball put frustrated the pro Kansas crowd. In fact, Coach Bill Self even got a technical foul because of his disapproval with the officiating crew’s calls.
Of course, this was in November of 2013 and both teams are vastly different. Nevertheless, both teams can learn from this experience.
Villanova is shooting off the charts in their first three NCAA Tournament games, at a whopping 59.9%. Shooting will be crucial for Villanova to win, but the Wildcats must set the tone in other ways in order to beat Kansas.