Michigan Wolverines (33-7) vs. Villanova Wildcats (35-4)
College Basketball: Monday, April 2, 2018 at 9:20 pm (Alamodome)
Line and Odds: Villanova Wildcats -6.5 — Over/Under: 143.5
FREE College Basketball Championship Pick Villanova vs. Michigan
Michigan 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. The Villanova Wildcats have won two titles in 1985 and 2016, while falling in 1971, so this will be their fourth appearance. They’ll face each other from the Alamodome in San Antonio on Monday night at 9:20 pm ET.
This is a Wolverines team that is 33-7 and has won 14 straight games. They opened with a win over Montana by 14, before edging Houston (64-63) on March 17. They followed that with their best performance in the tournament, crushing Texas A&M, 99-72 before just getting by Florida State, 58-54 last week to reach the Final Four. Things did not look good on Saturday night for the third-seeded Michigan against the Ramblers of Loyola-Chicago. They were down by 10 points in the second half with 14:10 left at 41-31 and down five with 7:45 left. After Duncan Robinson nailed a 3-pointer with 10:23 left to cut the deficit to 45-42, the Wolverines did not score a point until freshman Jordan Poole’s layup with 7:45 left. But it was center Moritz Wagner who kept his team in the game by literally putting them on his back. He hit the biggest shot with 6:59 left, sinking a 3-pointer to even up the score at 47. The Ramblers were shellshocked and after Poole made two free throws with 6:20 left to put the Wolverines up by two, they would never trail again. Ultimately, the Wolverines’ defense kept the in the game as they shunned Loyola-Chicago long ball and only allowed one made three-pointer the whole game. Mo Wagner scored eight more points down the stretch and ended up with 24 points and 15 rebounds on 10-of-16 shooting. He became only the third player in the last 40 years of the Final Four to score at least 20 points and nab 15 boards, joining elite company in Larry Bird and Hakeem Olajuwon. Wagner leads the Wolverines with 14.6 points and 7.1 rebounds, but this is a great sharing offense that was able to overcome the Ramblers despite getting horrible shooting performances from Zavier Simpson (0-6, 0 pts), Abdur-Rahkman (2-11, 7 pts). Abdur-Rahkman averages 12.6 points and shoots 42.e percent from the field, while Simpson leads the team in assists with 3.6 per game.
Villanova has not really been battle tested in the NCAA Tournament. They haven’t had a single digit win since barely getting by Seton Hall in overtime on Feb. 28, 69-68. They did have an overtime win against Providence by 10 on March 10 in the Big East title game. Since then, they’ve steam-rolled Radford by 26, Alabama by 23, West Virginia by 12, Texas Tech by 12 and Kansas by 16. Kansas tried everything against Villanova. They played man and tried to contest threes and then after falling behind 2-4, they went zone and had some success. They actually go the deficit down to 11, at 25-13 and then the Wildcats just staring pouring down the threes and the Jayhawks had to go back to man-to-man. By then, it was a wrap. The game was never in jeopardy for Villanova as the closest Kansas got in the second half was 13 points. It was one of the most dominant performances in a Final Four and was led by a outstanding performance from junior forward Eric Paschall, who had a career-high 24 points and made 10 of 11 shots. Star guard Jalen Brunson added 18 points and seven assist. The Wildcats shot 55.4% from the field and 18-of-40 from three point land, while going to the charity stripe just seven times and making five. Villanova Wildcats are averaging 86.6 points on 49.9 percent shooting and allowing 70.3 points on 42.7 shooting. Jalen Brunson is averaging 19.2 points and 4.6 assist while Mikal Bridges is averaging 17.8 points and 5.4 rebounds. Villanova is allowing 32.2 percent shooting from three point land and are nabbing 35.9 boards per contest. Villanova is 14-0 on neutral site games this season.
Cover The Spread 365 NCAA Championship Game Betting Trends:
36-17-4 ATS in their last 57 neutral site games
7-2-1 ATS in their last 10 non-conference games
35-16-3 ATS in their last 54 overall
53-21-1 ATS in their last 75 non-conference games
22-8 ATS in their last 30 neutral site games
25-10 ATS in their last 35 games overall
FREE College Basketball Championship Prediction Villanova vs. Michigan
Yes, Michigan has played sloppy at times and could’ve easily lost two or three times in this tournament. However, finding ways to win ugly this time of year only helps in pressure situations. Villanova could not play any better against Kansas, but Michigan is cut from another cloth. They’ve won 14 straight and beat the Ramblers with two of their star players having subpar performances. That’s not to say Villanova won’t come out on top but I think this will be a very competitive game, much better than the semifinal matchups. The Wolverines will control tempo and their wing players are much longer than Kansas and they should guard the 3-point threat a lot better than Kansas.