Michigan vs. Villanova (-7)
The National Championship is here! The two best teams in college basketball finally meet and it all comes down to this. Michigan is coming off of their 14th straight win with a victory over Cinderella Loyola-Chicago and now has their most difficult challenge of the tournament. The Wolverines have not yet faced a team 5 seed or lower. Now they face Villanova. The Wildcats had a record breaking night over Kansas in a game where they shot 18-40 from beyond the three point arc. Villanova not only broke the record for most three point makes in a Final Four game but also broke the single-season made three pointers record with a total of 454 and counting. The previous record was 441. Don’t worry Michigan; Villanova won’t carry this hot shooting momentum into the title game. No team can. So, let’s break this game down.
What We Know
Michigan is one of the best defensive teams in college basketball. The Wolverines are ranked 8th in the nation in scoring defense. Not only are they fantastic defensively, but on the glass Michigan battles for every rebound offensively and defensively. This is a team seeking their first title since 1989 and they are hungry. We all remember when Michigan shocked the world to go to the title game in 2013 with guys like Trey Burke, Hardaway Jr., Nik Stauskas and Mitch McGary. The Wolverines can once again taste the trophy.
Villanova is the hottest team in basketball and they proved that Saturday night. Nova lives and dies from three and they put on a clinic against Kansas. Now against Texas Tech it went a little differently – 4-24 from three. Luckily for the Wildcats, the Red Raiders awful shooting display kept them in the tournament. This doesn’t mean Villanova is lacking in skill or ability. They are the obvious favorite to win. Their ability to make the extra pass and find the open shooter can only be appreciated. The Wildcats are the best offensive team in the NCAA and are always fun to watch.
Keys to the Game
Michigan: Villanova will present their challenges. The Wolverines struggled shooting the ball from three after the first 10 minutes of the game against Loyola. Players other than Wagner and Matthews need to step up. Nova is better all-around than any team Michigan has seen all year and two players won’t cut it if the Wolverines want to win the title.
Offensive: Win the points in the paint
Defensive: Prevent perimeter shooting
Villanova: Michigan is the best defensive team they have seen in the tournament. The Wildcats have to continue the shooting display they put on in the Final Four. No team can touch them if that’s the case. They are very talented offensively but defensively Nova has to guard without fouling. The Wildcats have to shut down Matthews and Wagner and force other players from Michigan to score. With consistent defense all season long, the Villanova Wildcats are the true favorite.
Offensive: Continue to make the extra pass for open looks
Defensive: Shut down Wagner in all aspects of his game.
You can bet this game will be an exciting one. Michigan will win the game if they can cut out perimeter shooting from Villanova. The Wolverines also have to have other players step up and score the ball next to Wagner and Matthews. Villanova will win the game if they continue to play their game and their style of basketball. The multidimensional offense which has been present every game is hard to stop. Only 4 teams have successfully done that all year.
Prediction: MICH (+7) 71 – 76 VILL