NEW ORLEANS — Chris Arcidiacono was in the stands six years ago, riding the emotional wave as a fan in Houston when his older brother Ryan led Villanova to a dramatic national title.

It was a great experience, he said of watching North Carolina tie the score with a three and seeing his brother answer with a pass to Kris Jenkins for the winner at the buzzer.

“Just being with my family was great,” Arcidiacono said.

Arcidiacono will get his own Final Four experience this weekend and could be asked to play a key role for the Wildcats, but it wasn’t always guaranteed that the youngest Arcidiacono brother would get the chance to taste this experience for himself.

He was recruited by smaller schools while playing at Neshaminy High, pushing him to enroll at the Perkiomen School for a postgraduate year in hopes that he could force his way into Villanova’s plans. His parents met at ‘Nova as students in the 1980s — his father, Joe, was an offensive lineman and his mother, Patti, was a nursing student — and his brother is a campus legend.

» READ MORE: ‘I want him to know that he’s not done’: How Kevin Durant uplifted injured Villanova guard Justin Moore

That’s where Chris Arcidiacono thought he belonged, too.

“It was always a dream of mine growing up and going to Ryan’s games that I wanted to go to Villanova,” Arcidiacono said. “But I didn’t always know if that was going to happen. The prep year was tough, but I did a lot of good work. Luckily, I was able to get better during that time. Once I got the offer, I knew I was coming right away.”

>> WATCH: Ryan Arcidiacono talks about Villanova’s 2016 NCAA championship victory

Ryan Arcidiacono was a four-star-recruit, a can’t-miss high school player at Neshaminy who had his pick of colleges. His younger brother didn’t have the same choices, but Chris Arcidiacono had the same drive that helped his brother blossom at Villanova into one of college basketball’s premier players.

“It’s a tough place to go to because after we won the title, you’re going to get better and better players,” Ryan Arcidiacono said. “He had a goal in mind. Chris is a quiet kid. He doesn’t really talk too much and I never really knew what schools he truly, truly wanted to go to but I assumed Villanova was one of them. I have admiration for him that he did an extra especially being a twin and your twin sister is going off to college while you’re doing a prep-school year.”

» READ MORE: Opinion Villanova is not at home among the titans, and that’s what makes them great | David Murphy

“I’m super proud of the way he’s worked.”

Arcidiacono played limited minutes in the team’s first four NCAA Tournament wins, but the Wildcats are expected to lean on him more on Saturday against Kansas in the absence of Justin Moore, who tore his Achilles tendon in the regional final victory over Houston.

Expect the Wildcats to replace Moore’s production — nearly 15 points and 35 minutes a game while hitting the second-highest total of threes — with a cast that includes Arcidiacono, Eric Dixon, Bryan Antoine, and a heavier dose of Caleb Daniels.

“These guys are ready,” fifth-year forward Jermaine Samuels said. “The same guys put in the same work as Justin all year. A lot of people don’t see the hours they put in after the games, before the games, and they’re ready to go and they’re ready to contribute.”

“It’s not just Bryan and I filling in for the minutes or having to fill Justin’s shoes,” Arcidiacono said. ”Everyone else is going to step up — Jermaine, Brandon Slater, Caleb, Eric — everybody will play a role to fill what Justin did for us on the offensive and defensive end.”

Coach Jay Wright said ’Nova will need Arcidiacono as an extra ballhandler — Moore often handled point guard duties — to allow Colin Gillespie to play off the ball.

“And he’s a great shooter,” Wright said of Arcidiacono. “It’s hard to be a great shooter when you come in for a minute and 10 seconds at a time, then in, out, in. When you’re on the floor longer, it can help.”

Arcidiacono had his best game of the season in February when he scored nine points in 26 minutes off the bench against Connecticut while Moore was sidelined by an ankle injury. Arcidiacono’s lone three-point attempt that afternoon was a swish early in the second half to put the Wildcats up 10, allowing them to coast the rest of the way. The Wildcats could look for him to fill a similar role against Kansas.

» READ MORE: Villanova’s era of excellence is 20 years in the making. Just ask Allan Ray. Or follow him on Twitter. | Mike Sielski

“All’s you have to is bring intensity on the defensive end,” Ryan Arcidiacono said. “Offense will take care of itself. Just go out there and play like your hair is on fire and make the most of your time if it’s 1 minute, 3 minutes, or 5 minutes. Knowing that you’re on a team and it’s a team game and you’re a part of something that’s bigger than yourself. I think he’s had to take that into consideration and know that his impact is appreciated every single day.”

Last year, he slid into the starting lineup after Gillespie suffered a torn ligament in his knee. He played 34 minutes in the team’s Big East Tournament loss and started all three of ’Nova’s tournament games last March en route to the Sweet 16. Arcidiacono came off the bench and held his own last season in a new role.

“Really nothing changes,” he said. “My role is I come off the bench, bring energy, and just make sure we’re playing Villanova basketball for 40 minutes. So whenever I’m in, I’m going to help our team play Villanova basketball.”

The Jayhawks, Wright said, are fast and explosive as their offense runs through guards Ochai Agbaji and Christian Braun. Arcidiacono, whom Wright called a “tough and physical defender” could be tasked with slowing them down.

» READ MORE: Villanova hits the Big Easy for first day of Final Four craziness

“I think Ryan said this before that it’s from our dad,” Arcidiacono said of his toughness on defense. “Our dad was a tough guy and played football in college. I think he tried to instill toughness in us on the court from a young age. Toughness helps in a lot of different ways.”

The Wildcats enter Saturday as underdogs as Moore’s loss will be tough to overcome. The Wildcats scored 80 points in their tournament opener and just 50 in the win that sent them to New Orleans, showing that they can win a sprint or a slog.

They played efficient offense and slowed down their opponents with intense defense. Moore was a big part.

Ryan Arcidiacono will be flying Saturday night to Orlando after the Knicks play an afternoon game against Cleveland. He’ll be refreshing his phone in the air for updates on Villanova’s game against Kansas and maybe it will be his brother — who was a sophomore in high school when he watched Ryan win the title — who fills Moore’s role as Chris Arcidiacono gets his own chance at the Final Four.

“He’ll always be my little brother,” Ryan Arcidiacono said. “But I still think of him being the water boy of my high-school team and us working out together and him growing into his body and having some huge games in high school like scoring 51 points against Lower Merion in the state playoffs and some big-time moments. It’s a product of hard-work and a kid working hard to get to where he wanted to play college basketball and create his own path.”