Villanova Wildcats (5-0) vs. #2 Kansas Jayhawks (5-0)
When: Friday, November 29, 2013, 9:30 p.m.
Where: Paradise Island, Bahamas
Coverage: NBC Sports Network
Kansas Previous Season Record: 31-6, Won Big-12 Championship, Lost to Michigan in Elite Eight of NCAA Tournament
Key Players for Kansas: #22 Andrew Wiggins (6-8, 200) Fr., F; #34 Perry Ellis (6-8, 225) So., F; #21 Joel Embiid (7-0, 250) Fr., C; #1 Wayne Selden Jr. (6-5, 230) Fr., G
Scouting Report: Kansas is loaded. The key players section doesn’t even do them justice for the amount of talent they have on their roster. They’re currently ranked as the second best team in the country, right behind Michigan State. Andrew Wiggins is the center piece to this team. Although Kansas has many different weapons, Wiggins has been the one garnering all the attention and all the hype. Some say he’s overrated, but coach Bill Self doesn’t have the offense depend on solely one person. Besides there’s no need to with a talented team like Kansas. Wiggins is still the leading man when it comes to scoring, averaging 16.8 points per game. The #1 recruit of the class of 2013 also is efficient with the ball, shooting 55.6% so far this season. Defensively, he averages 1.6 steals per game. Recent reports say that the Kansas star has been battling the flu all week (Jordan status?). Right behind in Wiggins in scoring is forward Perry Ellis. Ellis is enjoying a much-improved season in scoring. He is averaging nearly 10 points higher than his scoring numbers from last season. (15.2 points per game, up from 5.8 points per game) It is not advisable to foul Ellis because he can get the job done from the free throw line. He is shooting 79.2% from the line. Ellis also averages a solid 7.0 rebounds per game. The other key big man in the paint is freshman Joel Embiid. Although he is still raw and currently is in a role off of the bench, he makes an impact as soon as he gets on the floor. At 7-foot-2 and 250 pounds, he serves as an imposing threat in the paint. He averages 9.0 points per game, 7.6 rebounds per game, and 1.8 blocks per game. The leading rebounder and blocker is someone who doesn’t even start. He also boasts a 70.8% shooting percentage from the floor. Guards Wayne Selden Jr. and Frank Mason are both capable of scoring and racking up points while teams are too distracted trying to stop their main scoring threats. Selden Jr. averages 10 points per game and Mason averages 9.2 points per game off of the bench. Kansas has held their opponents to an average of 69.6 points per game. This is an issue considering that the Jayhawks put up an average of 87 points per game. Nationally, they have the fourth best shooting percentage (54.5%) and the tenth highest assist totals (18.2).
Outlook: This is a statement game for Villanova. Kansas is one of the best there is and this is an early season test. The Wildcats get a chance to prove how well they really play. A win here would be huge and set the tone for the rest of the season. A loss, especially a blowout loss, would just raise further doubt and questions of the legitimacy of the Wildcats’ ability. On the bright side, the Wildcats have outrebounded the Jayhawks. Andrew Wiggins may have the flu, but he still played well and was the top scorer for the Jayhawks in the Wake Forest game. He won’t be 100% so this is the time for the Wildcats to capitalize. In the first half of the USC game we saw the vintage Ryan Arcidiacono that fans had been waiting for all season. He was the top scorer of the first half of that game, and he needs to get off to a good start. He, along with Darrun Hilliard and James Bell need to establish a perimeter threat. Wake Forest kept the game closer because they were able to shoot well from long range. They made eight three pointers against Kansas. The Jayhawks on the other hand don’t shoot that well from beyond the arc. If Wiggins and Ellis can be contained, Villanova will have a shot. However, another element that will be tested will be the depth of both teams. The return of Dylan Ennis certainly helps, but Kansas simply has more able bodies and players to spread minutes around. Especially in a tournament like this where it is three games in three days, one of the questions that Villanova has yet to answer is if their bench can handle it. Josh Hart and Tony Chennault need to turn it up a notch. Darryl Reynolds and Kris Jenkins have begun to get more playing time, but now it is time to prove their worth. Villanova has been generally playing well so far, but overall they’re always unpredictable. If the Wildcats can be physical, shoot well and spread the ball around, it should be an interesting game. A cold shooting performance or a slow start against a team like Kansas could prove disastrous for Villanova.
Anything can happen in college basketball. Kansas only beat Wake Forest by 9, both Kansas and Villanova beat Towson by about 30 points, and we can vouch for #1 Michigan State when we say that Columbia can come in and give a scare.