Five reasons Villanova will beat MI to win the national title

03 April, 2018, 04:45 | Author: Gary Shelton
  • Wolverines face tough challenge in Villanova

Monday night's game between the Michigan Wolverines and Villanova Wildcats is scheduled to begin at 9:20 p.m.

Which team has the edge at each position? The team that hits - and defends - the 3-point line best will be in business.

Villanova's seeking its second title in three years and Nova Nation is pumped and ready to go.

Then again, one might expect this natural advantage in scoring margin for the No. 1 seed to be somewhat offset in this particular national championship game. A victory over MI would give Villanova its second national title in three years after prevailing over North Carolina in 2016.

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The top challenge facing Villanova Monday is how to defend MI forward Moritz Wagner. Wagner, a junior, is hitting his stride at the flawless time, just like the Wolverines. He had a historic performance in the Final Four with 24 points and 15 rebounds. His motor knows no end, and his teammates feed off his energy.

MI 73, Villanova 72: If no one else is going to pick the Wolverines, I will. Providence and St. John's showed the best way to discombobulate the Wildcats is through tough perimeter defense - they held VU to a combined 11-for-53 shooting from long range in their upsets.

The German big man carried MI through its struggles in the first half by using his size advantage against the smaller Ramblers, snagging five offensive rebounds to notch a double-double by halftime.

Exhausted of watching victories fizzle away through defensive deficiencies, coach John Beilein made a philosophical change, putting an emphasis on that side of the ball. Still, for their part, Loyola Chicago controlled tempo in the middle of the game and had a legitimate chance of winning until they blew their 10-point second half lead.

The Wildcats are playing for their second title in three years under coach Jay Wright. Like many coaches, Wright and his offense have been influenced by the National Basketball Association style of playing without a true center, and on the cusp of his second title in three years, it's obviously working.

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Don't underestimate the value of experience.

While the Wildcats are the big favorites, don't count out the Wolverines who have played the best defense in the tournament.

"We have a lot of weapons offensively, but when it comes to us staying together on defense, that's what makes it special and we're going to keep getting better and keep getting better (to) be ready for Monday".

None of this is that surprising given that Villanova is a No. 1 seed, has won by double-digits in each NCAA Tournament outing, and made Kansas look like a jayvee squad Saturday.

MI is 1-2 when they allow 10 three pointers, and again, that includes the two-losses to the Boilermakers.

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"That really surprises me because a lot of things we still do defensively, we picked up watching Coach (Jerry) Tarkanian's teams with (former UNLV assistant) Tim Grgurich", said Wright, himself a former UNLV assistant under the late Rollie Massimino.

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