LOUISVILLE, KY. — Top seeds in the NCAA tournament are expected to perform at a high level throughout March. It’s fair to say that the Kansas Jayhawks continue to live up to those expectations, following a 79-63 win over the Maryland Terrapins in the Sweet 16. Now, with a berth in the Final Four on the line, the Jayhawks are getting ready to take on the Villanova Wildcats in the Elite 8 on Saturday, March 26.
A perfect storm of sub-par play by Maryland and an electric second half by Kansas allowed Bill Self’s team to continue their quest to Houston. Led by strong efforts from Perry Ellis (27 points) and Wayne Selden Jr. (19 points, seven rebounds, six assists), the Jayhawks knocked off the Terrapins and will need to continue playing at a high level when they face Villanova.
The Wildcats put together their own impressive performance on Thursday night, dominating the Miami Hurricanes 92-69 in the first regional semifinal at the KFC Yum! Center. Ryan Arcidiacono and Kris Jenkins led the Wildcats with 21 points each.
Self made it clear on Friday afternoon that playing through Ellis is crucial for the team to succeed, but Selden’s skill set is a valuable asset for his team.
“Wayne is a guy that can get his own shot,” Self said. “He can do things physically that our other little guards can’t do.”
During the Villanova press conference on Friday, Arcidiacono mentioned how one Kansas player in particular could cause his team issues on both ends of the court.
“[Frank] Mason will cause some problems for us,” Arcidiacono said. “We have to expose his aggressiveness on defense.”
Kansas leads the all-time series between these schools 3-2, their last win coming in the 2008 Sweet 16. Villanova won the last meeting between the two teams, a four-point victory in the 2013 Battle 4 Atlantis, a game which featured six current Jayhawks, as well as four current Wildcats.
A win on Saturday night will guarantee a trip the Final Four in Houston for the victor. Kansas will be seeking their first Final Four since 2012, while Villanova will be looking for their first since 2009.
You can listen to live play-by-play coverage of Kansas and Villanova in the NCAA Tournament on 90.7 FM in Lawrence, Topeka and throughout northeastern Kansas. Follow the team on Twitter, @KJHKsports, and online for all-day coverage of the team in Louisville.