No. 1 seeds Kansas, Villanova meet in national semifinal
National semifinal; San Antonio; Saturday, 8:49 p.m. EDT
BOTTOM LINE: In an NCAA Tournament that had the first No. 16 seed win over a No. 1, and an unprecedented 9-vs-11 regional final, two No. 1 seeds made it to the Final Four. Only one will play for the national title since perennial Big 12 champion Kansas plays Villanova in the second regional semifinal game.
ALL-AMERICAN GUARDS: Both teams have AP All-America guards. Villanova’s Jalen Brunson was also named The Associated Press men’s college basketball player of the year. Kansas senior Devonte’ Graham was the Big 12 player of the year.
”It deserves the hype, but at the end of the day, we both know that it is Kansas vs. Villanova, not Jalen vs. Devonte,”’ Graham said.
Brunson is averaging 19.2 points game and 4.6 assists per game while hitting 41 percent of his 3-pointers (82 of 198). Graham has 17.2 points and 7.3 assists per game, and shoots 40 percent from long range (106 of 263).
BEYOND THE ARC: Villanova made only four 3-pointers in their 71-59 East Region final victory over Texas Tech, its second-lowest total of the season. But the Wildcats enter the Final Four with 436 3-pointers, which is only six shy of the NCAA single-season record set by VMI in 2007.
SO CLOSE TO LAST TITLE: The Alamodome is about a 200-mile drive from Houston, where two years ago the Wildcats won their first championship since 1985 when Kris Jenkins hit a buzzer-beating 3-pointer. Villanova got to that Final Four after beating Kansas 64-59 in the South Region final.
Coach Jay Wright said he sees threads between the 2016 title team and this year’s squad.
”All the teams that are here, you have a laser focus, you have an ability to prepare for different opponents. If you don’t, someone’s going to catch you along the way. And it really has to be at a high level,” Wright said. ”And this group reminds me of our group in `16 in that way. And I feel like we’re getting better as the season goes on, even at this time of year. And that’s something that’s similar to our team in `16.”
A DECADE AGO: The Jayhawks this season won an unprecedented 14th consecutive conference title. But it’s now been 10 years since they won their fifth national title. That Final Four was also the last one played at the Alamodome.
More AP college basketball: https://collegebasketball.ap.org ; https://twitter.com/AP-Top25 and https://www.podcastone.com/ap-sports-special-events