Twos are wild as the second-seeded Villanova Wildcats and Oklahoma Sooners play in first game of the Final Four Saturday at NRG Stadium in Houston. These two met on a neutral court back on Dec. 7 with Oklahoma winning easily, 78-55. The difference came from long range where OU hit 14-of-26 of its three-point attempts while Villanova connected on just four of 32. Since then both teams have improved greatly especially ‘Nova, which put the huge clamps on Kansas to win the South Region.
Final Four: No. 2 Villanova Wildcats (33-5) vs No. 2 Oklahoma Sooners (29-7)
When: 6:09 p.m. ET (Saturday)
Where: NRG Stadium (Houston, Texas)
Line: Villanova -2
Keys for Oklahoma
Any sort of talk about the Sooners obviously starts with Buddy Hield. The All-American scoring machine is going to have to find open lanes and spaces for shots against Villanova’s suffocating defense. He may be able to do so if Isaiah Cousins and Jordan Woodard are able to get hot early. Domes like NRG Stadium are notoriously hard to shoot in so the Sooners will have to get used to the sight lines and maybe get some early layups to help out.
Keys for Villanova
The Wildcats need to bomb away early to keep Oklahoma honest and on its heels. Daniel Ochefu also has to win the battle inside with Ryan Spangler and Khadeem Lattin because when he's involved, the offense clicks a lot better. Finally, Kris Jenkins has to stay on the court. He's had some issues with fouls in the NCAA Tournament, racking up three or more in all but one of the games so far. Jenkins is instant offense, but if he's on the bench, he can't score buckets.
These two teams are playing some great basketball right now and it won't stop in the Final Four. I think there will be a boatload of lead changes, but in the end Villanova’s defense will win out. I'm really concerned with Oklahoma's ability to make jump shots in the dome. Hield has had an incredible season, but he may struggle out of the gate. The Sooners’ defense will keep them in this, but the Wildcats get the win and the chance for a national title on Monday.
Prediction: Villanova 73, Oklahoma 68
— Written by Matt Josephs, who is a part of the Athlon Sports Contributor Network. Follow him on Twitter @MidMajorMatt.
(Kris Jenkins photo courtesy of Getty Images)