No. 1 Villanova vs. No. 3 Michigan: Predicting the 2018 National Champion

03 April, 2018, 04:44 | Author: Kristine Mills
  • Wolverines face tough challenge in Villanova

No. 1 Villanova vs.

MI meets Villanova in the men's basketball national championship game on Monday, and given the coaching styles of John Beilein and Jay Wright one thing is for certain.

The Wolverines trailed the bracket-rambling Ramblers by seven at halftime, found the right gear in the second and have a title-game appearance no one outside of Ann Arbor saw coming when they were middling in the Big Ten just a month ago. Wagner's outstanding performance in the semifinals against Loyola (24 points, 15 rebounds and a.625 field goal percentage) has Michigan's state dreaming with an NCAA title. That included a record-setting effort against the Jayhawks in which the Wildcats hit 18 of 40 from 3-point range.

Villanova 86, MI 70: Wildcats Wolverines. They've also managed to outpace Loyola, a team that had stayed close enough to defeat other opponents in the tournament, to get here.

Plenty of experts picked MI to reach the Final Four after they won the Big Ten Tournament. The elite characteristic of this team lies in how they can shoot so poorly yet still grind out the victory with their lockdown defense.

However, the Wolverines aren't the best team in that category entering Monday's game, as Villanova sits 17 spots ahead of them.

For Michigan, Moritz Wagner is the key player.

Meanwhile, Michigan will carry an impressive 14-game winning streak into the national championship contest and is scoring nearly 74 points per game and giving up close to 59 at the other end. Over the course of their winning streak, MI has played lock down defense, giving up just 62 points per game to opponents.

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The Wolverines need to bring the defensive tenacity they showed in the second half against Loyola to have an upset chance Monday. So were guys like Duncan Robinson, Charles Matthews and Jordan Poole.

MI rode its defense into the title game. MI has been trending under: Over its past seven NCAA tournament games, the under is 5-1-1. MI will need its stellar seniors to get into a rhythm to have any shot at taking down the Wildcats. Villanova is the most efficient offensive team in the country and will find answers to John Belein's vaunted defense. The Wildcats finished 35-5 when they won the national title in 2016.

When he was a basketball player at Bucknell, Jay Wright led the Bison in scoring his junior season at 11.9 points per game.

The opening line for this game had Villanova favored by 6.5 points. Brunson makes up an absolutely lethal backcourt for Villanova and can put the Wildcats on his back when needed. Averaging 86.8 points, Villanova spreads the floor and shares the ball so well that the Wildcats usually get good looks at the basket.

MI may have a better answer than the Jayhawks had.

"It's just comes from the confidence we have in each other, our work ethic", said junior All-American point guard Jalen Brunson.

Mikal Bridges: Michigan's Bridges problem won't go away just yet.

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