Villanova vs. Kansas Odds, Betting Preview & Picks: 8 Best Bets for Final Four Game
Photo by Carmen Mandato/Getty Images. Pictured: Collin Gillespie (Villanova)
Between the injury to Justin Moore and the hype that typically surrounds one of the best rivalries in sports, most of the nation’s attention has been focused on the second Final Four matchup between North Carolina and Duke.
But in the eyes of bettors, there is an opportunity to make some cash on the battle between Villanova and Kansas.
Yes, the Wildcats won’t have their second-leading scorer Moore — who tore his Achilles — and yes, the Jayhawks have been firing on all cylinders — especially with Remy Martin back — but that doesn’t mean this will be a runaway.
In fact, our staff has multiple ways to bet this game, including some who are riding the Wildcats.
Our 8 Best Bets For Villanova-Kansas Final Four Game
The table below represents each pick that our college basketball staff is targeting for Saturday’s Final Four game between Villanova and Kansas. Click a pick below to navigate to a specific bet discussed in this article.
|D.J. James||Under 61.5 1H|
|Kody Malstrom||Villanova +4.5|
|Kyle Remillard||Under 133|
|Alex Hinton||Under 133|
|Shane McNichol||Villanova Team Total Under 64.5|
|Tanner McGrath||Villanova +4.5|
|Patrick Strollo||Kansas -4|
|Specific bet recommendations come from the sportsbook offering preferred odds as of writing. Always shop for the best price using our NCAAB Odds page, which automatically surfaces the best lines for every game.|
Villanova vs. Kansas
By D.J. James
Even though the Final Four game between Villanova and Kansas may be overshadowed, it’s still a matchup of blue bloods on impressive runs.
Villanova’s second-leading scorer, Justin Moore, is out for the season with a torn Achilles. This is a major blow to the Wildcats, and they will have to find another source of scoring. That means targeting the total here seems like a good idea.
Both Kansas and Villanova boast top-20 adjusted defensive efficiencies (KenPom). Although Kansas may play at a far faster pace than the Wildcats, it does have a tendency to slow teams down.
On defense, the Jayhawks rank 269th at 17.9 seconds per possession, whereas Villanova maintains the 345th-ranked Adjusted Tempo (again, KenPom). This says that Villanova will be able to control the pace of the game, at least partially.
In addition, Nova strives from shooting and making 3s — 38.6% of its total offense has come from beyond the arc. Kansas holds opponents to less than 30% from outside on the season, so this says Villanova will need to get the ball into the interior to find buckets.
On defense, Villanova ranks 20th in Rim and 3 ShotQuality Efficiency. This means the Wildcats will force the Jayhawks to deviate from standard plans and take some unorthodox shots.
Essentially, both teams may have a slow start to contribute to this total. Kansas’ defense and Nova’s overall pace should make this go under, especially early.
Pick: Under 61.5 1H (Play to 60)
Villanova’s win against Houston was looking a lot better until the final minutes when Justin Moore went down holding his ankle. This is an absolute gut punch to Villanova, which already has limited depth.
I still see a little value in taking Nova at the number, though. Per our projections, Villanova would be a near pick’em with Moore, and should be around a 3.5-point dog without Moore.
Moore’s production will be missed, as he’s second on the team in scoring at 14.8 points per game. He’s also hauling in 4.8 rebounds and dishing out 2.3 assists a night, as well.
Villanova is still one of the most efficient teams in basketball and is more than capable of filling the void left behind by Moore due to its style of play. The Wildcats’ best player, Collin Gillespie, will look to have the ball in his hand more while also being more of a focal point off screens.
Big man Eric Dixon will be expected to have an increase in minutes. He’s coming in averaging 9.1 points and 6.4 rebounds per game. His points prop is worth considering, as it’s currently at eights points, a number he has exceeded 20+ times this season.
Villanova will look to dictate the pace of play, using its snail’s pace of a tempo to limit opposing possessions while maximizing the quality of its own.
The scheme will stay the same, as the Wildcats will run high-percentage shooters off screens and knock down shots from deep on the other end.
They will be at a disadvantage down low, but they have been all season.
If Villanova can limit transition points allowed and dictate the pace of play, then I will feel good about it covering. That is especially the case if the Wildcats have the lead toward the end of the game, as they are historically a great free throw shooting team.
Pick: Villanova +4.5 (Play to +4)
The Final Four matchup between Villanova and Kansas is highlighted by the Wildcats’ loss of Justin Moore. The junior guard is a pivotal piece to Jay Wright’s offense, as he averages 15 points while shooting 36% from beyond the arc.
Replacing Moore’s production will be a monumental task, as Villanova ranks 323rd in the country in bench minutes.
Now that his six-man rotation is down to five, Wright will slow this game down and make it a half-court grind.
Villanova already ranks 345th in the country in tempo, according to KenPom. The Wildcats will utilize the majority of the shot clock, working the opposing defense for a mismatch that they can attempt to capitalize on while limiting transition looks.
That’s been the recipe all postseason, as the Wildcats’ games have gone under the total in six of the last seven. Without Moore, that will put even more emphasis on turning this game into a half-court grind.
The Kansas defense has stepped up over the last week, holding both Miami (FL) and Providence to below 35% from the field. The Jayhawks held Providence to just 17 points in the first half and Miami (FL) to only 15 in the second half in the Elite Eight.
Given Moore’s absence, this game will be played at a slow tempo in which points will be tough to come by for both sides.
Pick: Under 133 (Play to 130.5)
One of the first things that sticks out to me in this matchup of two excellent coached teams is the pace clash.
Villanova sits in the bottom-15 nationally in Adjusted Tempo, while Kansas ranks 61st, per KenPom. If Villanova can slow this game to a halt from start to finish, it will have a very good chance of pulling off the small upset — even without Justin Moore.
Speaking of Moore, his loss is huge. He’s valuable in many facets of the game for the Wildcats.
I have him worth close to two points to the spread in a game I would’ve projected Kansas as a very small favorite if both teams were at full strength.
You could argue he’s worth more since Villanova doesn’t have an abundance of depth (323rd in bench minutes), and the sample size without him is fairly minuscule.
However, losing a key player can work in a team’s favor in that first game playing shorthanded. Not only can it serve as a rallying point — where everybody else steps up — it introduces uncertainty.
I’m sure Jay Wright will spend the week implementing some new looks that Kansas doesn’t have on film.
For what it’s worth, Moore did miss one game this season against a very formidable opponent in UConn. Villanova won that game 85-74 and led by 23 with just under 10 minutes left in regulation.
Offensively, Villanova runs pick-and-roll at a top-15 frequency nationally. It also scores at the 12th-highest rate in terms of points per possession in those sets, per Synergy.
Kansas is elite defending the ball handler in the pick-and-roll (91st percentile), but struggles at times against the roll man (37th percentile). The Jayhawks also excel at defending the 3, but do have some deficiencies in the post.
Villanova gives up transition opportunities on 13.1% of possessions (118th), but more importantly, it grades out in the 94th percentile defending those possessions. That’s critical against the Jayhawks, who are nearly unstoppable in transition.
In general, Kansas wants to attack the rim, but Villanova’s defense ranks in the top-20 in both rate and efficiency at the rim.
However, Kansas could have a decided edge on the offensive glass, where it ranks top-40 in the country. If this turns into a half-court battle, second chance points could be its best path to scoring.
I think this spread is a bit too high for a very veteran Villanova squad that should control tempo and keep Kansas out of transition. The loss of Moore stings, but that sting might not be as painful in the first game without him.
Keep in mind this Kansas team just closed as only a 5.5-point favorite against Miami in a much more favorable matchup. It has also had trouble building margin as a favorite throughout the season.
I will be on the side of Wright, who’s seeking his third national title since 2016.
Pick: Villanova +4.5
By Alex Hinton
Villanova and Kansas are both top-10 in adjusted offensive efficiency. However, Villanova ranks 345th in Adjusted Tempo and 349th in average possession length on offense.
The Jayhawks would prefer the game to be played at a faster pace, but their opponents have tried to slow the Jayhawks down when they have the ball. Kansas ranks 269th in average possession length on defense.
The big news surrounding this game is the loss of Villanova guard Justin Moore.
The junior is the Wildcats’ second-leading scorer at 14.8 points per game. While he will be a big loss for Villanova, its NCAA Tournament games have not been very high-scoring even with him on the floor. The Wildcats’ first four NCAA Tournament games have averaged a total of 121 points
Kansas is coming off of a pair of lockdown defensive performances last week. It held Providence to 61 points on 33.8% shooting from the field and kept Miami (FL) to 50 points on 34.5% shooting from the field.
Kansas ranks 18th in adjusted defensive efficiency on the year. Villanova sits 17th in the category. Saturday will be a case of good defense beating good offense.
With Villanova’s short rotation a man down, the Wildcats will want to limit possessions and make sure the game doesn’t become a track meet.
As a result, I will be playing the under, and I would play it down to 131.
Pick: Under 133 (Play to 131)
With many of my colleagues finding ways to bet the under, I’m not breaking new territory here. However, I will specifically point out Villanova’s team total.
The Wildcats have already been a slow-tempo team, ranking 345th in pace this season, per KenPom.
In Villanova’s seven postseason games dating back to the start of the Big East Tournament, the Wildcats have averaged 63.9 points per game. Justin Moore played in all seven of those games, averaging 12.7 points and 12.0 field goal attempts over that stretch.
There’s no telling how this shallow Villanova rotation will attempt to make up for losing its second-highest usage player. Collin Gillespie will need to carry an even heavier load, with role players like Caleb Daniels and Brandon Slater expected to make a leap on the fly.
In reality, Jay Wright’s best chance to keep this game within reach is to slow Kansas down into a low-possession battle. In the half-court, Villanova can find ways to put its playmakers in successful positions.
If this game’s tempo picks up, the conditioning of the Wildcats and the effectiveness of Villanova’s little-used bench players will come into question.
When Villanova dealt with a major injury last year, Wright also looked to slow the pace. In the Wildcats’ five games without Gillespie last season, Villanova slowed the tempo, with all five games staying under 65 possessions.
The Wildcats’ final two games last year stayed under 60 possessions, including a season-ending loss to Baylor in which Villanova managed just 51 points.
Pick: Villanova Team Total Under 64.5 (Play to 62.5)
I’m simply going to add on to what Kody Malstrom said above.
If Villanova limits the transition buckets, we’re going to get a low-possession game. And in such a low-possession game, it’s always a smart play to take the underdog.
This one will be a grinder — as most Nova games are — and 4.5 points will play more like six or seven in this style of game.
Moreover, it’s worth mentioning that Jay Wright is 4-0 against the spread lifetime against Bill Self. Self is one of the game’s greatest coaches, but Wright has his number and will gameplan around the loss of Justin Moore.
Wright and the uber-experienced Wildcats will dictate the pace of this game and force Kansas to play heads-up in the half-court. Look for Eric Dixon to have a big outing in Moore’s absence and for Nova to hang within one possession in a highly entertaining matchup.
Pick: Villanova +4.5 (Play to +4)
Villanova lost guard Justin Moore for the remainder of the tournament after he tore his Achilles tendon in an upset victory over Houston.
This season, Moore is second in scoring (14.8 PPG) and third in total rebounds (4.8 RPG) for the Wildcats.
Replacing Moore’s production on the court will prove to be a tall order for Villanova, even under the leadership of top-notch coach Jay Wright.
Wright will have a week to game plan around Moore’s absence. However, finding a plug-and-play solution in the Final Four will require some wishful thinking.
Outside of Moore’s noteworthy absence for Villanova, Kansas boasts the better team.
The Jayhawks rank third, fourth and sixth in KenPom, BartTorvik and NCAA NET Rankings, respectively. This juxtaposes to Villanova’s rankings of eighth, ninth and eighth in the same metrics.
Where Kansas will separate itself is with its 2-point field goal percentage, where it ranks 37th in the nation from inside the arc. Meanwhile, Villanova ranks just 168th in the nation from inside the arc.
I am projecting Kansas as a 2.56-point neutral-court favorite based on season long empirical data.
The individual EPA time series in my model projects Moore’s contribution to the spread at 2.51 points, thus making Kansas a 5.07-point favorite on a neutral court.
I expect the Jayhawks’ offense to eventually grind down the Wildcats, exploiting Moore’s notable non-appearance on the defensive glass. On the other side of the court, it will be especially difficult for Villanova to replicate Moore’s experience in such a high-profile game.
Moore is a complete player and his efforts on both ends of the hardwood are likely irreplaceable.
Take advantage of the one-point edge and lay the points, as Kansas will cover and punch its ticket to the National Championship game.
Pick: Kansas -4 (Play to -4.5)
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