Kansas and Villanova needed this game
Editor's note: ESPN analyst Fran Fraschilla, the color commentator for this matchup, provides his quick take of the game.
PHILADELPHIA -- It's rare that a game like this could be good for both teams, but this could be the case of No. 2 Kansas' 83-62 loss Villanova on Saturday.
Villanova, which has suffered some excruciatingly difficult defeats this year, really needed this game.
The Wildcats showed that their three guards, when on, can be as dangerous to defend as anybody in the country. They may not be quite at the level of Luther Head, Dee Brown and Deron Williams at Illinois, but they are awfully good. Even without inside presence Jason Fraser to throw the ball to, the Wildcats still have the ability to attack the basket relentlessly and shoot the long 3.
At the power forward spot, Curtis Sumpter was able to create a matchup nightmare for the Jayhawks. Most nights, Wayne Simien, Christian Moody and the freshmen are not asked to guard that far away from the basket. Sumpter, who could very well be a 2 guard at the NBA level, has the size, skill and athleticism to play both inside and out.
At practice Friday, I was impressed with the positive attitude coach Jay Wright has instilled in his team, particularly after the Wildcats' heartbreaking loss to BC on Wednesday, where Nova coughed up a 6-point lead late in regulation.
Considering the adversity Villanova has endured over the last two years, regarding all of its injuries, the NCAA investigation and the plane scare it had returning from Providence last week, this is a resilient group and it played with great energy and intensity.
Kansas, which had been fortrunate in a number of close wins this year, was finally unable to dodge the bullet, but this could be the wakeup call the Jayhawks needed before returning to conference play Tuesday night at Baylor.
Bill Self has been searching all season for a fifth starter and consistent play off his bench. The thumb injury to Simien in December created some opportunities for his young Jayhawks to grow up -- and they have. Now, figuring out which of them can be depended on every night off the bench will be crucial to Kansas' success in the Big 12 and the NCAA Tournament.
This is still not a great outside shooting team, which ultimately could be its biggest Achilles' heel.
While a coach never likes to teach lessons in a loss, Bill Self and his team should be able to go to school on their effort in Philly on Saturday. I would be surprised if they don't bounce back from this quickly -- and they'll need to, with Texas and longtime rival Missouri rolling into Allen Fieldhouse next Saturday and Monday.
Fran Fraschilla, a former head coach at Manhattan, St. John's and New Mexico, is a college basketball analyst for ESPN.
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