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LIVE BLOG: Villanova vs Kansas in the Final Four

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Folks, it’s that time. Let’s get after it again and let’s all agree on one thing. This is NOT the national championship. Those who said that all week must have forgot that Michigan is a top-15 team in the country this season as well. Again, no reason to waste a whole lot of time here. But, since I didn’t give you a preview of the game, I’ll say this. Here’s what I’m watching for:

– Brunson is so good at finding the mismatch, getting the switch and going into the post. Whenever Graham is on him, look for him to do that.

– Can Azubuike/De Sousa/Lightoot guard Paschall/Spellman out on the perimeter. No idea how they’ll be able to step out that far and stick with two guys who can put it on the floor too.

– Are we getting AAU/Kansas Malik Newman or Mississippi State Newman?

TIMEOUT KANSAS – 17:13, Villanova 9, Kansas 2
Well this one sort of started the way I expected. Kansas got the ball down low to Azubuike early while Nova didnt help on him. They are letting Spellman play him 1v1 and not leaving the shooters. That actually is something they can do thanks to the development of Spellman to go with his size. On the other end, it’s the shooting of Nova. They are putting Azubuike out on the perimeter and making him defend. So far three different Nova players hit a three. I will say we are seeing Graham guard Brunson, but there’s a crossmatch. Nova is putting Phil Booth – its best defender on Graham.

UNDER 16 TIMEOUT – 14:21, Villanova 16, Kansas 4

Well, this is some sort of start for Nova, especially Spellman. He’s absolutely dialed in right now on both sides of the ball. He’s picking his shots on the offensive side and doing an excellent job of stepping into shots. He’s not sitting there and being complacent. Defensively, he’s holding his own against Azubuike and letting Nova play man up without sending help. That’s huge for them.

TIMEOUT KANSAS – 13:03, Villanova 22, Kansas 4
Well, Villanova, yeah, uh, they are really good. This last possession that drew a timeout from Bill Self was absolute basketball porn. They bring De Sousa out to guard a ball screen. Throw it over the top to Paschall on the roll. There’s help coming so he kicks it to an open Gillespie in the corner. Bang. 22-4. Just absolute basketball porn right now offensively for Nova.

TIMEOUT VILLANOVA – 10:25, Villanova 22, Kansas 11
A 7-0 run here by Kansas as Nova has gone absolutely cold shooting. The big thing here though has been Silvio De Sousa. Since he came in for Azubuike he’s gotten 5 points and 4 rebounds. Kansas has also gone to a zone during the last 3 possessions, resulting in 3 missed shots. I’m just not sure how long you can zone a passing and shooting team like Nova.

UNDER 8 TIMEOUT – 6:52, Villanova 34, Kansas 20
Well, that’s one way to answer a 7-0 run. Kansas stayed in the zone for a few possessions, which led to even more threes by Nova. Then after they got out of the zone, Nova did the smart thing. Immediately got Brunson to go in the post. Kansas decided to double the post, because Brunson is that good in the post, but you can’t do that. Brunson immediately made the skip pass to Bridges for an open three in the corner. That’s the dangerous thing with this team. If you double Brunson, you’re letting a point guard make a pass from the post. If you don’t double him, he has three to four post moves to go after you. This is an offensive juggernaut right now.

UNDER 4 TIMEOUT – 2:57, Villanova 43, Kansas 28

Here’s all you need to know

Villanova has 13 at this exact moment.

HALFTIME – Villanova 47, Kansas 32
I mean what is there to say right now? That was an absolute clinic by Villanova on the offensive side of the ball. They aren’t even running sets or anything like that, because Nova doesn’t run sets. They just know how to move with and without the ball. That’s what they were doing to Kansas. They were bringing bigs out to guard where they weren’t comfortable, making the extra pass and then hitting the open shot. Now, do I think they can hit 13 threes in the second half? No, but they have a 15 point lead to play with. For Kansas, they need to continue to try and attack and not settle to get into a shooting contest with Nova. Defensively, look for Self to perhaps throw a couple junk defenses here just for a different look.

UNDER 16 TIMEOUT – 13:49, Villanova 62, Kansas 42
Oh, you thought there wouldn’t be more shooting? Nova has come out and hit three more threes. What’s been really impressive though, besides the shooting, is Omari Spellman on the defensive side of the ball. He’s blocked a couple of shots now and has altered a few more. His ability to rotate on slip screens and high screens combined with weakside help has been really impressive to watch.

UNDER 12 TIMEOUT – 11:58, Villanova 67, Kansas 47
Kansas is trying to make it a game, but they just can’t stop Nova at this point. Graham and Newman are both in double digits and Kansas is still competing, but right now they can’t string together stops. Eric Paschall and Omari Spellman have combined for 29 points and that’s not by accident. Spellman has also pitched in 11 rebounds.

UNDER 8 TIMEOUT – 7:55, Villanova 74, Kansas 57
Well, we almost had a game there. The lead was cut to 15 and Kansas forced a 5 second c all on the inbound. They had a clean look from three and couldn’t get it to fall. Instead, Brunson got to the free throw line and Paschall got free on a high pick and roll. In the middle of all that was also Marcus Garrett taking a forced shot from three and missing just about everything. We’re starting to see Nova use a bit more clock and that will be the case these next 8 minutes. Look for them to use about 18-20 seconds then put Brunson in the high ball screen.

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UNDER 4 TIMEOUT – 3:42, Villanova 83, Kansas 63
Yeah, this one is over.