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Neighbors Growing Together | Jul 20, 2018

Villanova big favorite over Michigan in NCAA title game

By Field Level Sports | Apr 02, 2018

--Field Level Media

Contrasting styles will be on the display when Michigan and Villanova meet in the national championship game Monday night at the Alamodome in San Antonio.

Michigan will have the task of slowing down Villanova’s high-scoring offense.

It also will be a role reversal from the past few weeks for Michigan, which suddenly will be cast in the role of underdog.

Villanova (35-4) advanced to its second title game in three years by blitzing Kansas 95-79 in Saturday night’s second semifinal. The Wildcats won the 2016 national title by defeating North Carolina on a buzzer-beating shot, an outcome that took place in another Texas city -- Houston.

Villanova leads the country in offensive efficiency at 1.27 points per possession. The Wildcats will be tested against a defensive-oriented Michigan team, but Vegas oddsmakers made the Wildcats 10-point favorites, the largest line in the championship game since 2010.

“Really disciplined defensively,” Villanova coach Jay Wright said of Michigan. “We know how good we have to be.”

Six Villanova players made multiple 3-point baskets against Kansas.

“That happens sometimes when you’re a good shooting team and you start that way,” Wright said.

Michigan will face a team seeded higher than its seeding for the first time in the tournament. The Wolverines made it through an upset-ravaged West Region bracket before meeting tournament Cinderella, the Loyola-Chicago Ramblers, in the Final Four semifinals.

Yet nothing seems to faze the Wolverines (33-7), who’ve won 14 games in a row.

“This is an incredible group and we’re so excited for this ride,” Michigan forward Moritz Wagner said.

The Wolverines knocked out Loyola-Chicago 69-57 in the first semifinal.

Michigan, which is aiming to snatch its first national championship since 1989, is in the title game for the second time in six years. The Wolverines fell to Louisville in 2013 in Atlanta.

There’s a difference in those Michigan teams, both coached by John Beilein.

“This team’s had no attention at all,” Beilein said. “Until we went up to beat Michigan State we weren’t nationally ranked. Now we’re playing on Monday night.”

Yet the Wolverines have caught an uptick at the right time. They finished the regular season strong and then won the Big Ten tournament.

“So we’ve just been able to just help this team grow and who knows what we have out there?” Beilein said. “But the whole idea is these kids have played well, played together, just like that team.”

Now Michigan must defeat a Catholic-based school for the second time in three nights in order to complete its postseason mission.

Villanova set an NCAA record for 3-point baskets for a season during the Kansas game.

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