The Villanova Wildcats will face the Kansas Jayhawks on Saturday from San Antonio, Texas in the Final Four. If they’re going to advance, guard Mikal Bridges is going to have to play a significant role.
Whomever emerges from the clash of No. 1 seeds will play the winner of Michigan-Loyola-Chicago on Monday night in the national championship game.
Villanova (34-4) knocked off Texas Tech 71-59 in the East region of the Elite Eight. Meanwhile, Kansas (31-7) outlasted Duke 85-81 (OT) in the Midwest.
This is the sixth overall Final Four trip[ for the Wildcats and the second in the last three seasons. Villanova won the 2016 national title for the program’s second championship. If Villanova wins, it would tie the 35 wins set by the 2016 squad.
This is the third time the two teams have met in the NCAA Tournament. Villanova beat Kansas in the 2016 South Regional Final in Louisville. Kansas took the 2007 matchup in the NCAA regional semifinal in Detroit.
Here are five things to know about Villanova guard Mikal Bridges:
1. Mikal Bridges was the Big East Tournament MVP
Bridges put on a show at Madison Square Garden in New York City to take home the award.
Bridges stepped up with 25 points on 9-of-14 shooting in Villanova’s overtime victory against Providence in the Big East championship game.
Bridges averaged 22.6 points during the tournament.
2. Mikal Bridges is Villanova’s best 3-point shooter
Bridges has converted 99 3-pointers at a 43 percent clip for Villanova’s high-powered offensive attack.
Bridges had an off game (0-for-5) in the 71-59 Elite Eight victory against Texas Tech, but went 11-for-19 combined in the earlier round wins against Radford, Alabama and West Virginia.
Bridges’ stroke will be able to open up the floor for Villanova to penetrate and attack Kansas at the basket.
3. Mikal Bridges is Villanova’s best free throw shooter
Bridges has made 112 free throws (second on the team) at an 84 percent rate this season.
Bridges made up for his poor 3-point shooting vs. Texas Tech by going 6-of-7 at the free throw line.
Overall in the 2018 NCAA Tournament, Bridges is 15-of-18.
Bridges, along with backcourt mate Jalen Brunson, comprises a steady shooting duo that Kansas will have to account for in crunch time.
4. Mikal Bridges was a member of Villanova’s 2016 national championship team
Bridges played an integral role off the bench as a redshirt freshman on the Villanova squad that stunned North Carolina in 2016.
Bridges scored 11 points as Villanova routed Oklahoma in the 2016 Final Four.
Villanova coach Jay Wright commended Bridges for adjusting to the bench role.
“He came in as a high school scoring phenom like they all do, so I’m really proud of how he has opened up his game defensively,” Wright said.
5. Mikal Bridges is a homegrown talent
Bridges was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania and played high school basketball at Great Valley High School.
Bridges was selected to the Philadelphia Inquirer’s All-Southeastern Pa., boys basketball first team in his senior season in which he averaged. 18.5 points, 7.2 rebounds, 2.4 assists, 2.4 blocks and 1.6 steals per game
During Bridges’ superb high school career, he totaled 1,340 points and 511 rebounds.