Wolverines gear up for Villanova in NCAA championship

Wolverines gear up for Villanova in NCAA championship

Villanova enters Monday's national championship game as the consensus favorite over MI, whether your authority of choice happens to be oddsmakers, laptops or (ahem) ESPN types.

Villanova's motion offense and shoot-3s-at-every-position lineup has been a nightmare for teams in the NCAA Tournament; the Wildcats are fifth team to win its first five NCAA games by double digits.

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 Wolverines need to bring the defensive tenacity they showed in the second half against Loyola to have an upset chance Monday.

"They [Michigan] are very balanced", Villanova junior, Eric Paschall, said. The Week 6 AP poll is actually the best one during the entire regular season at predicting the eventual champion.

The Wildcats are 4-2 in games where they allowed 10 or more 3-pointers in a single game. The Wildcats put up 95 points on No. 1 seed Kansas and 90 points on No. 5 seed West Virginia. The Wolverines have had a unique path to the championship, failing to play any better than a 6 seed to this point.

Villanova is one of the greatest 3-point shooting teams in college basketball history, breaking season and NCAA Tournament records.

The Wolverines were unranked when this season began, and didn't even crack the Top 25 for the first time until mid-January. If you have three guys who shoot as well as three of their players do, you'll probably beat just about anybody out there.

The Wolverines hit 10 or more three-pointers in 14 games this season, including that 14 of 24 performance in a 99-72 blowout against the Aggies on 99-72. They're well-coached, play stingy defense, and feature balanced scoring.

"This team's had no attention at all", said MI head coach John Beilein. "I think he's one of those players that you're not going to shut him down". You just have got to hope you can minimize his influence on the game.

Villanova freshman Omari Spellman, who will be one of the Wildcats tasked with trying to slow Wagner down, recognizes the challenge ahead. But it's easier said than done, especially against teams that move the ball the quickly and have shooters all over the floor.

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.

"It's just comes from the confidence we have in each other, our work ethic", said junior All-American point guard Jalen Brunson. In fact, coming into Monday's game, Abdur-Rahkman possesses the second best assist to turnover ratio in the country at 4.4:1.

Villanova 78, MI 69: Villanova has been the clear class of college basketball for a few months now, and has been an unstoppable wrecking machine on offense all postseason.