In what could be the best game of the weekend, the Kansas Jayhawks will play their first true road game Saturday afternoon in Philadelphia against the Villanova Wildcats. Bill Self’s team comes into the game ranked No. 1 in the country and has won nine in a row following its opening-night loss to Duke in the Champions Classic.
The Jayhawks have put together a pretty impressive resume during the out of conference schedule, posting a quintet of wins against the Kenpom top 100. Their most recent victory came last weekend against Kansas City, a 98-57 drubbing in which sophomore center David McCormack posted 28 points and seven rebounds.
Kansas is led by sophomore point guard Devon Dotson, who is posting All-American-type numbers during the 2019-20 campaign, averaging 19.6 points, 4.8 assists and 3.7 rebounds per game. His shooting from deep (31.8 percent) leaves a lot to be desired, but that should eventually come around. Dotson is 4-of-10 from deep in his last two games.
Villanova enters the game as the 19th-ranked team in the nation with a solid 8-2 record but no real solid wins on the season. Mississippi State is the Wildcats’ best win, but the Bulldogs are not expected to be a tournament team come season’s end.
The two losses are quality losses, however, as no one can knock losing to Baylor or Ohio State. However, the manner in which the Wildcats lost to the Buckeyes, a 76-51 beatdown in Columbus, still looms large and is a point of reference when discussing this Villanova team and how much it can be trusted.
The Wildcats are led by sophomore wing Saddiq Bey (16.3 points, 5.5 rebounds) and junior point guard Collin Gillespie (14.4 points, 5.5 assists) along with a nice trio of young players. Freshmen Justin Moore and Jeremiah Robinson-Earl, along with sophomore Cole Swider have all proven to be high-level players this season as they are all averaging in double figures.
Junior forward Jermaine Samuels remains his typically solid self at 9.4 points and five rebounds per game.
Kansas is a two-point favorite for Saturday’s game, with the over/under set at 148.
Trouble At The Top
Since 2010-11, the Jayhawks have played six true road games as the No. 1 team in the country and are 3-3 in those games. Overall, during that same time period, Self is 63-33 on the road. The Jayhawks are 6-4-0 against the spread on the season and have gone under in six of their 10 games. In their last five games, they are 5-0 ATS.
Under Jay Wright, going back to the 2010-11 season, Villanova has played eight top 10 teams at home, and its record in those games is 6-2. Against Top 25 teams at home during that same span, the Wildcats are 17-10.
In fact, since 2010, Villanova is an incredible 122-20 at home, and it is a perfect 5-0 this season but just 2-3 against the spread within the friendly confines. Villanova has gone over in seven of 10 games overall and all five times at home this season.
Pick and Prediction
Villanova at home is hard to pass up regardless of the opponent, but you have to like this Kansas squad on paper. The biggest advantage in this game is the Kansas frontcourt. Udoka Azubuike, McCormack and Silvio De Sousa will present the most formidable front line the Wildcats have faced all season.
Kansas is more experienced, more physical and simply more talented on the front line, and it has the best player in the game in Dotson. Take Kansas to cover on the road along with the over.
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