Villanova will contend in its seventh Final Four in college record Saturday when the Wildcats facial area the Kansas Jayhawks at the Caesars Superdome in New Orleans.
This will be Villanova’s fourth countrywide semifinals look underneath head mentor Jay Wright — 3 of which have occur in the past six decades. The previous two Ultimate 4 appearances ended with the Wildcats winning the countrywide championship.
As Villanova has advanced from a respectable faculty basketball plan into a national powerhouse around the last 21 decades less than Wright, there is been a frequent measuring adhere through it all: Kansas.
Ahead of 2004, the Wildcats and Jayhawks only achieved as soon as in March 1968. Kansas gained the sport 55-49.
Above the final 18 yrs, Villanova and Kansas have met 8 moments, with a ninth showdown on the horizon Saturday. Wright’s Wildcats are 5-3 all-time from Monthly bill Self’s Jayhawks. Below Self, Kansas has also been to 4 Final Fours, but with only one particular countrywide title to demonstrate for.
Virtually each time Villanova has confronted Kansas in the latest memory, the activity — get or drop — has served as a barometer minute in the Wildcats’ emergence as a blueblood school basketball method. Quite a few of Villanova’s largest milestones have appear about adhering to a gain or reduction versus Kansas.
Basically set, the Wildcats would not be exactly where they are these days devoid of the help of the Jayhawks.
A coming out get together
Perhaps the initial legendary game in Wright’s tenure on the Major Line arrived in January 2005, when Villanova hosted Kansas at the formerly-named Wachovia Heart in South Philadelphia.
The Jayhawks entered the contest undefeated and rated No. 2 in the region, just two a long time removed from participating in in the countrywide championship. In the meantime, the Wildcats were being 9-4 and, in Wright’s fourth year at the helm, have been seeking their to start with NCAA Tournament visual appearance in six a long time.
On a working day in which a blizzard struck the Northeast, Villanova caught fireplace and ran Kansas out the gymnasium, 83-62, on countrywide Tv. It was the to start with genuine statement gain for Wright at Villanova.
In a lot of means, the win was a reintroduction of Villanova on the countrywide stage. The Wildcats would go on to acquire 12 of their upcoming 15 games, ending fourth in the Major East during the common season and advancing to the convention event semifinals.
Villanova then acquired a No. 5 seed in the NCAA Event and knocked off New Mexico and Florida on its way to the school’s very first Sweet 16 visual appearance in 17 yrs. The Wildcats finished No. 19 in the AP poll that year, the initially time in eight seasons that Villanova completed in the prime 25.
Villanova developed on its potent ’04-05 campaign with an even-much better year in 2005-06. The Wildcats went 28-5 and gained its initial Massive East regular year title in 9 a long time. Villanova earned its 1st No. 1 seed in the NCAA Match and innovative to its very first Elite 8 because 1988.
The seeds of Villanova’s ascension ended up just getting planted.
An unforeseen rematch
The Wildcats and Jayhawks would fulfill yet again in the Sweet 16 of the 2008 NCAA Match. However, that was not a matchup admirers had been expecting getting into the tournament.
Villanova experienced a bit of an up-and-down season in 2007-08, finishing eighth in the Huge East and remaining unranked because late January that yr. Yet, the Wildcats were being capable to sneak into the tournament and get its final at-massive seed.
Villanova then sprung an upset of No. 5 Clemson in the first spherical and knocked off Siena in the second round to advance to its third Sweet 16 in 4 decades.
Waiting around for the Wildcats in the regional semifinals in Detroit were being the leading-seeded Jayhawks, who dominated Villanova 72-57 on their way to profitable the 2008 national title.
That loss would provide as worthwhile experience and a foundation for what would come in 2009, when virtually the full roster returned and took Villanova to its very first Closing 4 since 1985. It was massive in Villanova’s ongoing development as a college basketball program.
Battling for Atlantis
Villanova and Kansas would not cross paths all over again for five several years right up until the Struggle 4 Atlantis match in The Bahamas in November 2013.
When each teams entered the early-season contest undefeated, significantly had transformed considering the fact that they final squared off in 2008. Kansas, ranked No. 2 in the region, had taken a stranglehold of the Huge 12 Convention and was just two seasons taken off from enjoying for a nationwide championship.
Meanwhile, Villanova had type of missing its way a little bit. Inspite of a strong recruiting pipeline, the Wildcats were being despatched packing in the 1st weekend of the NCAA Match in both of those 2010 and 2011 before a disastrous time in 2012.
Villanova finished that yr 13-19 and 13th in the Large East. It was the school’s worst report under Wright, as it unsuccessful to qualify for any postseason tournaments. Quite a few followers started to dilemma no matter if Wright was however the ideal dude for the position.
The Wildcats rebounded a bit in 2012-13 and got back to the NCAA Tournament, only to drop to North Carolina in the to start with spherical.
Even so, it was Villanova who arrived out on best in Atlantis, beating the Jayhawks 63-59. The Wildcats then defeated Iowa the subsequent night time to acquire the Battle 4 Atlantis title.
Villanova’s functionality in The Bahamas would finally catapult the Wildcats to a 29-5 file and their first Massive East regular time title in eight a long time. It would be the Wildcats’ 1st of seven normal period titles that they have gained in the revamped Large East.
Regardless of acquiring upset in both of those the first round of the Major East Match and 2nd spherical of the NCAA Event, the Wildcats completed the season rated No. 6.
In 2014-15, Villanova would go 33-3 and capture its second-consecutive conference standard time title ahead of winning its to start with Major East Tournament championship in 20 years. The greatest, nevertheless, had nevertheless to come for the Wildcats.
An elite showdown
The Wildcats and Jayhawks would following collide in the Elite 8 of the 2016 NCAA Event in Louisville.
Villanova entered the contest as the No. 2 seed just after successful a further Big East typical year title and having torn as a result of its to start with three opponents in the NCAA Match. It was Villanova’s very first Elite Eight look given that 2009.
In the meantime, the Jayhawks ended up the leading seed in the South Region right after obtaining the Huge 12 frequent and convention tournament titles. It was Kansas’ first Elite 8 visual appeal in 4 years.
In a defensive fight, Villanova defeated Kansas 64-59 to progress to its initially Final Four in 7 several years. The Wildcats went on to demolish Oklahoma by a Last 4-report 44-place margin right before winning the countrywide championship in excess of North Carolina guiding Kris Jenkins’ activity-profitable three at the buzzer.
Two yrs later on, the Wildcats and Jayhawks would clash in the 2018 Last Four in San Antonio.
Villanova, the leading seed in the East Region, was back in the countrywide semifinals just after a disappointing next-round exit as a No. 1 seed in the 2017 NCAA Match. The Wildcats entered the recreation possessing received the Significant East Tournament title and riding a 9-sport get streak.
Meanwhile, the Jayhawks were again in the Closing Four for the 1st time considering that 2012 following earning the leading seed in the Midwest area. At the time all over again, Kansas had received equally the Large 12 frequent time and conference match titles.
But it failed to subject, as Villanova blew out Kansas 95-78 on its way to winning its second nationwide championship in three years and 3rd title in college background. The Wildcats made a Final 4-record 18 3-ideas in excess of the Jayhawks, and Villanova won every of its six match online games that yr by double digits.
Considering that conference in the 2018 Ultimate 4, Villanova and Kansas played a household-and-property collection in 2018 and 2019, with each and every college profitable on its respective house floor. Saturday night’s match will be the fourth time that fifth-12 months seniors Collin Gillespie and Jermaine Samuels facial area the Jayhawks in their careers.
Villanova is heading for its 3rd nationwide championship in 6 years and fourth title in faculty background. It truly is only fitting that the Wildcats’ path to cutting down the nets when all over again incorporates a hugely-expected showdown with Kansas.