We’ve made it. After a terrible bracket season and all the media focus being on Sister Jean, we’re left with Michigan and Villanova as the two teams that get a shot at cutting down the nets.
Michigan vs Villanova
Michigan is one of the slower paced teams in the country and this has helped them out in the tournament thus far. However, they have not played anyone up to the caliber of Villanova in this tournament. Michigan has faced inferior opponents throughout the whole tournament and this will be their first true test. John Beilein is an outstanding coach and will have his team pretty well prepared for their final game of the season. The biggest issue for Michigan in the tournament is when they get away from running their offense through Mo Wagner. This was apparent in the Loyola game when Michigan was down at halftime. Wagner is a very versatile big man that can step out and shoot the three or shoot a jumper off of a pick and roll. Villanova struggles defending the pick and roll, ranking in the 46th percentile, so I expect Michigan to exploit this matchup for Wagner. Zavier Simpson has been another crucial player for Michigan. He doesn’t account for the same offense that Wagner does, but when he’s playing his best game, he’s playing lockdown defense and making the right decisions with the basketball in his hands. The defense and slow pace of Michigan is going to be the main focus of this game to see if they can stop a surging Villanova offense.
Villanova has been shooting lights out this whole tournament and no team has been able to come close to stopping them. They’ve embarrassed every opponent they’ve played in the tournament, including a pretty solid Kansas team. Jalen Brunson and Mikal Bridges have lead this team to this point and I don’t see that narrative changing for this championship game. Villanova hit their hot streak at the right time this year and it looks like they’ll win another championship with Jay Wright and Jalen Brunson. This team is looking ridiculously good and they’re all playing for each other at this point in the season. This is the kind of team basketball that I like seeing played, not that boring stuff Loyola made us all watch. There’s a clip floating around Twitter of the other four players on the court running over to help Jalen Brunson up after he fell on the court, that’s a team that cares for each other and understands who their leader is. Nova is coming off a record setting three point performance in the Final Four, but if this turns into a live by the three, die by the three game for them, they could be in trouble. Michigan excels at defensive rebounding, and lots of missed shots could hurt Villanova. I think Villanova should focus on getting Mikal Bridges the ball because he will likely be guarded by Duncan Robinson. Robinson is one of my favorite players in College Basketball, but I think Bridges has an extra gear that can help him frustrate Robinson and cause him to foul in inopportune times.
I’m betting Michigan +7.5 in this game because that’s just too high of a number not too. I think both teams are very good (obviously), but they have different styles of play. One is a high powered offense and the other relies on good defense. They say defense wins championships, but this Villanova team doesn’t look to be cooling off any time soon. Congrats to Jay Wright and the Villanova Wildcats for being the 2017-18 College Basketball Champions.
Nova 75 Michigan 69