Michigan and Villanova make it back to the title game. It’s been five years for Michigan and two for Villanova in the finals, which are pretty good stretches for two programs that have become systems, with coaches over the ten-year mark of their tenure and talented players who will need to slip onto NBA rosters.
The game itself should feature a lot of threes... attempted.
The team that actually makes those shots will have a chance to earn early separation; but both squads are excellent on defense and explosive on offense (especially with their jump shots), so we might see an exciting, high-level game for the Finals.
(1) Villanova Wildcats (35-4) vs. (3) Michigan Wolverines (33-7)
Time: 9:20 p.m.
How to watch: TBS [Stream] | TNT: Michigan TeamCast | TruTV: Villanova TeamCast
Odds: Villanova, -7
Announcers: TBS: Jim Nantz, Grant Hill, Bill Raftery, Tracy Wolfson | TNT: Matt Park, Jay Feely, Dr. Sanjay Gupta | TruTV: Scott Graham, Randy Foye, Kacie McDonnell
Villanova comes into the championship game boasting the biggest spread of the weekend. The Wildcats lit it up from deep hitting 18 of 40 from beyond the three-point arc to beat another 1-seed in Kansas, 95-79.
This year, the Wildcats were who the world expected them to be: talented and well-coached. Villanova finished second in the Big East regular season standings, arguably due to injury. Going into the Big East Tournament with their health back, Villanova won every game of that tournament by an average of 17.7 points on their way to a Big East Tournament title.
Villanova earned their 1-seed in the NCAA Tournament, and before they even had to play, they were a favorite to come out of the East. In tournament that expected more chaos than usual, Villanova seemed like a Final Four lock even in a talented region.
The Wildcats’ play validated this assumption, getting to the Final Four averaging a 18.3 point margin of victory. Then they blew out Kansas.
Villanova is going to move the ball and shoot from deep like they have all tournament and all season. AN underrated part of Villanova’s success is their ability to finish defensive possessions with rebounds. The Wildcats rank seventh nationally in total rebounds grabbed.
After a first-half scare against Loyola, Michigan had an effective second half to send the Cinderella-Ramblers back to Chicago, 69-57.
This season, Michigan was expected to be a middle-of-the pack type team that would not defend. Slightly wrong on the former, very wrong on the latter. Michigan stayed competitive in a top-heavy Big-10, finishing fourth in the regular season. Despite their regular season, Michigan won their Big-10 tournament beating both Michigan State and Purdue.
Both teams in the National Championship won their conference tournaments in Madison Square Garden (which we are trying not to read too much into).
Michigan earned the 3-seed in the West with a solid chance of making the Sweet Sixteen but little chance at doing something special. However, the Wolverines kept on winning. Michigan needed an incredible last second shot to even get to the Sweet Sixteen, before blowing out Texas A&M and beating Florida State and Loyola.
Michigan is going to defend and shoot the three. Michigan’s secret weapon may also be their ball movement, where Michigan is ranked 16th in total assists.
This game is going to include a lot of fundamentals, ball movement, and athleticism. Both teams are well coached and experienced, and both teams can win in a multitude of ways. The difference in the spread could very well represent the difference in each teams top tier talent.