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

03 April 2018, 02:43 | Kristine Mills

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Wolverines face tough challenge in Villanova

"But I appreciate that, because I'm a little insane out there, too".

It's time for a new week, and that means a new week of blogs.

Nova covers but the MI D keeps the total under. If you missed, you kept shooting. I'm not going against them, either. I apologize for some of the cuts, as I was having audio issues at some points. That's pretty good company. I think it's likely. And yet, the Wolverines have the defense to slow them down just enough. Honestly, it was just a attractive thing to watch.

When something like that happens, it's usually two-fold. They can beat you in so many different ways, and while MI is the same way, they are slightly overmatched here. It's not like Kansas played a bad game. Indeed, they held Loyola to 57 points, their lowest total of the tournament. The second-worst was previous year when they gave up an average of 94.5 per 100 possessions and placed 24. It wasn't until Duncan Robinson hit a crucial 3 to pull MI close to Loyola that anyone besides Moe had done anything on offense. You just have got to hope you can minimize his influence on the game. On Saturday, Nova dominated Kansas, 95-79 behind 18 3-pointers.

The Wolverines are not a Cinderella story. They outrebounded Texas Tech, a physical Big 12 team, 51-33. 14, 6, 7 and 9 seeds in the West Region, they played their first game in the Alamodome against Loyola-Chicago, only the fourth No. 11 seed to make it to the Final Four.

Ho-hum, just another day at the NCAA tourney office for Villanova, which won its first five 2018 tournament games by an average of 17.6 points per game. The Wolverines have had a unique path to the championship, failing to play any better than a 6 seed to this point.

Villanova is going to win.

A wild, entertaining season and one of the maddest Marches in college basketball history has reached its pinnacle. The 'Cats are absolutely loaded with guys that can shoot the 3, are unselfish in finding each other and create several matchup problems for ALL teams in the tournament.

"Obviously it's kind of higher than I thought, where I'm at right now", Bridges said. This success has brought them to third in KenPom's adjusted defensive efficiency rankings, behind only Virginia and Cincinnati.

Based on everything we have seen in this NCAA Tournament, Villanova should roll to the national title.

MI had the nation's No. 3 defense efficiency-wise and put Loyola on lockdown in the second half, forcing the Ramblers into a rash of turnovers to race away.

MI isn't a lights-out shooting team, and it doesn't like to push the pace (the Wolverines rank 324th out of 351 D-I teams in adjusted tempo, per the Pomeroy College Basketball Ratings), but if junior forward Moe Wagner gets hot like he did in the Final Four when he dropped 24 points and 15 rebounds, then the Wolverines could find themselves with the early advantage. Now, Yaklich may not deserve all the praise, but he should get some.

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Even if Villanova is favored by a few possessions, this should be one of the best finals we've seen in a while. This will certainly be a match-up of an elite offense against an elite defense. In the Sweet Sixteen, Michigan's offense exploded for 99 points in a 27-point blowout over Texas A&M. They got to the free-throw line, and made 29 of 35 foul shots.

The public is behind Villanova tonight. MI won the title in 1989, and has made eight appearances in the Final Four (officially, six appearances according to the NCAA, which vacated the teams' 1992 and 1993 appearances). He's averaging 19.2 points, 4.6 assists, 3.1 rebounds and is shooting 41 percent from the 3-point arc. Mississippi State goes on to win 73-63 over Louisville. The discrepancy of five points is definitely something to keep an eye on.

Ogunbowale had hit a game-winner on Friday to beat UConn and send Notre Dame to the championship.

Give it up for the women.

Villanova's 3-after-3-after-3 win against Kansas in Saturday's national semifinals offered an example.

I love that this is a growing trend in college athletics. Then came the NCAA Tournament, and here they are.

Winning championships, except in rare cases, takes more than one talented player. The numbers in parentheses are scholarships. "We'll be like, 'What are you talking about?' But that emotion is a big part of him". You don't dream about getting two out of three years, you don't think about it.

This game should be a close one.

Wagner finished with 24 points and 15 rebound to join Hakeem Olajuwon and Larry Bird as the only players to have at least 20 points and 15 rebounds in a national semifinal game.

Seriously, can we get a dang break from this ridiculously stupid weather?

"I'll be honest with you, we're still watching film", Wright said.



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