Tournament Challenge: 2.4 percent of brackets picked Villanova-Michigan

Tournament Challenge: 2.4 percent of brackets picked Villanova-Michigan

Kerry Wise
April 3, 2018

One by one, Villanova keeps winning games and getting closer to another national title. MI used their athleticism and the play of Moritz Wagner to stop Loyola-Chicago's magical run, 69-57. The Wolverines have won one title game in 1989 and this will be their sixth appearance in the title game with the last coming in 2013.

North Carolina did the same two years ago, only to fall in the title contest to ...

The third-seeded Wolverines (33-7) had a bit more trouble against the bracket's favorite underdogs, overcoming a frightful first half to send nun-turned-motivator Sister Jean Delores Schmidt headed to the exits early.

Oddsmakers in Las Vegas set the opening line for the championship game favoring Villanova by 5 1/2 points, and gamblers quickly pushed that to 6 1/2 points by backing the Wildcats. "He's a guy they can play through".

"They did a great job of knocking down shots, obviously, and making an extra pass", said Jayhawks guard Devonte' Graham, who led Kansas with 23 points in 39 minutes, "They had us rotating a lot, and Spellman picking and popping, he was kind of hard to guard for us".

He'll get a final chance this season to add to it in the Alamodome on Monday night.

Robinson scored 9 points for MI in the national semifinal win over Loyola-Chicago.

Wagner might not put up 24 points and 15 rebounds again Monday, but if he reaches somewhere around 20 points and 10 rebounds, the Wolverines should be in good shape. It felt like a game of National Basketball Association 2K18 in the first half for the Wildcats. Donte DiVincenzo scored 15 points off the bench. They opened with a win over Montana by 14, before edging Houston (64-63) on March 17.

While most teams have one, maybe two strong on-the-ball defenders, MI has three: Charles Matthews, Zavier Simpson and Muhammad-Ali Abdur-Rahkman. Kansas had just eight assists. 10-11 from the field, and 4-5 from deep on the day, Paschall paced the Wildcats, especially in the second half, when he tallied 16 of his 24 points. By then, it was over.

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Eric Paschall then made the record-breaking three for the team a little over a minute into the second half.

Six Villanova players made multiple 3-point baskets against Kansas. Villanova shot 45 percent from 3.

Since the start of the Big Dance, Simpson's offensive numbers have been futile at best, as he has scored 29 points in five games. "And he really became a pretty good 3-point shooter".

Villanova has not really been tested in the NCAA Tournament.

Turner Sports and CBS Sports officials say the two Final Four games drew an average of 13.4 million viewers across the cable networks and primary streaming app where it aired.

When Villanova's Jalen Brunson and MI guard Charles Matthews were high school standouts in Illinois, Brunson beat out Matthews for the state's Mr. Basketball award.

The Wildcats have long, athletic players with mostly interchangeable skills, allowing them to switch on screens a majority of the time.

Villanova (35-4) advanced to its second title game in three years by blitzing Kansas 95-79 in Saturday night's second semifinal.