Michigan Villanova

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College Basketball

National Championship

Preview and Pick


Villanova was one of the heavy favorites entering the Tournament and got here with close to no problems. Michigan wasn’t a huge favorite, but it’s not surprising that the Wolverines are in this spot even though they had a favorable Schedule. After their drubbing of Kansas, the Wildcats were early -6.5 point favorites at 5Dimes Sportsbook for the National Championship.

Villanova has won all five of its Games by double digits and only received resistance in one of them and that came in the Sweet 16 against West Virginia. The Wildcats have won by shooting lights out, but also by drawing fouls and getting to the line. Their offense has been one of the best in the nation all season and that’s shining through in this Tournament.

That hasn’t been the same case for Michigan and it can even be argued Villanova has already played three Big 12 teams that are all better than the Wolverines. Michigan has scraped by in almost every Game outside of the Texas A&M win. It was outplayed and needed a buzzer beater against Houston, got a favorable draw against Florida State and then needed Loyola to fall apart late to win in the Final 4. This Game will be much different than all of the previous ones.

Villanova comes in with the best offense in the country, while Michigan has the third-best defense in terms of adjusted efficiency. The Wolverines haven’t played anywhere near to the same level of offense as Villanova’s and that could be an issue. On the other end, the Wildcats have turned into a legit defense and rank 14th in that category, while Michigan isn’t quite at that level (ranked 31st). The Wolverines haven’t needed a ton of offense in this Tournament and that’s helped them advance to this point. The only Game in which the offense was flowing was the 99-72 win against Texas A&M. If they can repeat that, they’ll be in business.

Similar to most Games this season, Villanova will have a matchup advantage due to its number of scorers on the roster. Michigan will need a perfect Game in order to have a chance to win. Zavier Simpson has a big task with Jalen Brunson, who was on fire in the Final 4, but is also a guard that can post up down low. It wasn’t great for Simpson that he actually got benched against Loyola because he didn’t have the offense needed to get the team going.

The other big matchup will be of big men Omari Spellman and Moritz Wagner, both of whom can step out and hit the three. Wagner will have a length advantage, but Spellman may be a little more athletic and have more muscle, which should limit the free looks that Wagner got last Game. Charles Matthews against Mikal Bridges will be fun to watch, but Bridges is a better all-around player and will likely be the toughest matchup Matthews has had in the Tournament if not the season.

The hope for Michigan is that Muhammad-Ali Abdur-Rahkman and Duncan Robinson can Scoreas much as Donte DiVincenzo, Phil Booth and Eric Paschall. The problem is that Robinson is purely a shooter, while Abdur-Rahkman has struggled with just 16 points in the last two Games. Everyone on Villanova is a shooter and that’s been the main problem for most defenses. It has three guys that are above 40 percent from deep, while Michigan doesn’t even have one.

The best way for the Wolverines to win is to play tight defense and keep this lower scoring. If they want to get in a track meet that probably won’t end well unless they repeat their Sweet 16 performance when they went 14-of-24 from three-point range. The problem is that the Wolverines aren’t that good of a shooting team to begin with so that’ll be a hard thing to bet on.

If Brunson controls this Game and Paschall and Spellman can limit what Wagner does on the boards, it could be another easy win for Villanova. Michigan will need to hit shots and hope that Villanova has one of its colder Games from distance.

Our Pick – Our Score Prediction model comes up with the following two predictions based on different time frame parameters. The first prediction uses stats from the entire season and the 2nd prediction uses stats from only the last 7 Games.

Full Season – Villanova 81 Michigan 73

Last 7 Games – Michigan 73 Villanova 72

So, what does that tell us?

Well, it tells us that overall, start to finish, Villanova is the better team and the likely National Champ if all goes well. 

The prediction using the last 7 Games of data only shows us that Michigan is playing ABOVE their regular season form and, as you might expect of any team making it this far, they are on a roll.

Hey, Loyola was on a roll too, until their bubble burst Saturday night and quite frankly, Michigan needs a MUCH better performance start to finish in this Game than they had Saturday night if they are going to havd a chance.

Certainly, Michigan is a live dog here and that’s the way we are going to go. There are only a couple of +7s on the board as of this writing so you better hurry. Michigan +7

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