Matchup: No. 3 Michigan vs. No. 1 Villanova
Where: San Antonio
Time: 9:20 PM ET
After a college basketball season that started in the fall, had conference tournaments for automatic bids, and had a 68-team tournament to narrow the field to two, the national title will be decided tonight in San Antonio. Both Villanova and Michigan have been playing spectacular basketball all season long, but they have played particularly well in the postseason.
The Wolverines are looking for their first title since 1989, and obviously a lot has happened over the last couple of decades—including the Fab Five. Michigan lost a close title game to Louisville in 2013, and head coach John Beilein is looking for his first national title. Beilein’s team has a lot of tournament experience and are back-to-back Big Ten champions, so it’s no surprise they are here.
Meanwhile, Villanova won the NCAA Tournament in 2016, which junior leaders Jalen Brunson, Mikal Bridges, and Phil Booth were a big part of as freshman. Jay Wright is looking for his second national title, while Villanova is looking to become the just the eighth school in history to win three national championships (ninth, if you count Louisville’s vacated 2013 title). The Wildcats have the most three-pointers of any team in a season ever, and they are clearly a great team.
Tonight, a national champion will be crowned. And it should be a good one.
. . .
Most people probably believe that if Villanova hits their shots, they’ll win the game. Michigan has shown they can also get hot from deep, too, but they have been inconsistent this tournament run. Muhammad Ali Abdur-Rahkman and Duncan Robinson need to shoot the ball well from deep or the game might not be that close. Shots could just happen to not fall on any given night, but Nova hasn’t shown any reason to believe theirs won’t tonight.
Prediction: Villanova 85, Michigan 79
After seeing what Villanova has done throughout the entire tournament, winning games by an average of 16.75 points, it’s difficult not to pick them to win. They are well-coached, they shoot the ball better than anyone, they play great defense, and they are as versatile as it gets. Michigan is great too, and I don’t mean to make it like they don’t have a chance, but the Wildcats are simply a juggernaut.
Prediction: Villanova 80, Michigan 72
This matchup between two high-powered, three-point-shooting teams could come down to who catches fire beyond the arc, but Villanova and Michigan are both great defensively, too, and they each have several standout players that could be the difference with a legendary performance on the biggest stage. I think the Wildcats are clearly the more talented team, though, and Jalen Brunson and Mikal Bridges will claim their second title before likely leaving for the NBA as juniors.
Prediction: Villanova 75, Michigan 71
Well, I picked Michigan from the beginning, so I believe the rules are I need to stick with that pick. Seriously, Villanova is a crazy good team that’s going to be difficult to beat, and they should be the favorites in the game. But while Michigan certainly hasn’t played extremely well in every single game this tournament, they continue to find ways to win and keep advancing. Now they just need to find a way to win one more time.
Prediction: Michigan 74, Villanova 73