How Michigan Can Upset Villanova
If you have listened to the media and watched Villanova play you would think that the National Championship is already theirs. We do not even need to watch tonight as the Wildcats are going to be crowned champions and the only thing left is who will be the MVP of the championship game. But on the other side the Michigan Wolverines sit with other plans. They come into the Championship games winners of 14 straight and a record breaking 33 wins on the year. The media has not been talking about them much this year but they are a really good basketball team also. Could Villanova run away and hide with the game tonight, absolutely. If they shoot like they did against Kansas it might not matter what Michigan does because the Wildcats will probably come out on top. But make no mistake Michigan is talented enough to beat Villanova in a one game playoff which is exactly what the National Championship is. So what does Michigan have to do to pull off the upset? Here a few ways they can do that:
Run Villanova off the 3 point line
Villanova can beat you in a lot of ways but they start blowing people teams away and are most comfortable doing it from the 3 point line. They make over 40% of the 3 they take and they take a lot of them. Michigan has done a great job all tournament and keeping teams from making 3’s but more importantly they are keeping them from shooting them. The Wolverines held their Final Four opponent Loyola to 1-10 shooting from 3. Both season lows. It seems obvious but the fewer 3’s Villanova shoots the fewer they will make. While Michigan does not want to give up a ton of open 2 point attempts, the Wildcats will not blow you out doing that.
Hit their open shots
This again seems obvious but the Wolverines have not shot the ball well during the tournament except for their Sweet 16 game against Texas A&M. They have won their games by playing extremely good defense and grinding out wins. With the offense Michigan runs they have the ability to create a lot of good open shots, but they need them to fall tonight. If they can hit their shots they can keep pace with Villanova.
Muhammad-Ali Abdur-Rahkman must play well
Mo Wagner is the best player on Michigan but he needs help. During the Final Four game Wagner kept Michigan in the game in the first half until the rest of the team showed up. Charles Matthews has also played well in the tournament, but when Abdur-Rahkman is playing and shooting well the offense runs so much smoother. The Senior became more assertive this year and when he did the team really started clicking. He had his best game of the tournament against Texas A&M when he went 4-7 from the 3 point line and scored 24 points. But against Loyola he went 0-5 from downtown and scored just 7 points. During that game the offense bogged down and looked lost. If he can hit his shots early then it will stretch Villanova’s defense more and open up other shooters. Plus when Abdur-Rahkman gets confidence he can been dangerous.
Keep the pace slow
Michigan has the ability to run when needed but they are a lot more comfortable playing a slow game. Villanova can get up and score. So the Wolverines will need to slow the game down and not let Villanova make one of their runs that they have done all year. Michigan also has the ability to score but most times they can’t keep up with a team like Villanova if they get hot. Slowing the game down and giving the Wildcats less possessions bodes well for Michigan. They need to be methodical running their offense and work for good shots. Take the fast break if it is available but play the game in the half court. If they can do that it limits the 3’s Nova can shoot and in turn make. If the game becomes a track meet then Michigan is in trouble.
Villanova definitely has the edge in this game but if Michigan can get those 4 things going tonight they have a good chance of winning. Villanova can definitely blow anyone out, but in a one game championship anything can happen. Will Michigan pull off the upset? We do not know but doing the things listed will definitely give them a great shot. Either way it should be a great title game and fitting end to a great tournament.