April 20, 2018

Villanova opens as biggest favorite in title game since Duke in 2010

04 April 2018, 01:05 | Marta Robbins

Malik Newman and Devonte’ Graham are keys for the potent Kansas Jayhawks offense

Malik Newman and Devonte’ Graham are keys for the potent Kansas Jayhawks offense

The Wildcats have hit two threes since the Jayhawks cut their lead to 22-11. That wasn't the outcome expected by the majority.

MI struggled early on, taking an early lead before surrendering it to Loyola-Chicago before the end of the first half.

While the Wildcats assailed the Jayhawks with long-range jumpers, what head coach Jay Wright's team accomplished in defending any such counterattacks proved just as crucial in a 95-79 victory that sent Villanova to the national championship game. I mean, that literally escalated quickly. The lead was at 22-4 and the thoughts of an early TKO were evident. "We have a lot of weapons offensively, but when it comes to us staying together on defense, that's what makes it special and we're going to keep getting better and keep getting better [Sunday] and be ready for Monday".

The University of Kansas opened the doors to Allen Fieldhouse Saturday night so thousands of Jayhawk basketball fans could watch a live broadcast of KU's Final Four appearance.

MI had the nation's No. 3 defense efficiency-wise and put Loyola on lockdown in the second half, forcing the Ramblers into a rash of turnovers to race away. "Now we're playing on Monday night". Are you thinking what I'm thinking? After the tournament we've had this year? And we didn't. We've been down to good teams on the road by at least 15 or more.

Villanova, you're incredible. But please allow MI to keep it competitive.

Things did not look good on Saturday night for third-seeded MI against the Ramblers of Loyola-Chicago. That was absurd. Villanova is absurd. "And we just try to win". It was certainly noteworthy and had interesting events, however. They also made 17 3-pointers against Alabama in the second round.

Eric Paschall led the way in what was a balanced offensive effort for Villanova, scoring 24 points on 10-for-11 shooting from the field. We have 40 minutes to give all we got.

Seven different players made three pointers in the first half. The big fella couldn't get there.

Now let's tie things up appropriately.

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You just never seen anything like LeBron with his size, his speed, his power. "We did a great job", he said. But the one thing that both guys do have in common, they're really driven to win and to be the best".

MI has shored up the deficiency that always held it back, becoming one of the nation's best defensive teams, not one of its worst. This tournament's had the first 16 over a 1 ever.

Staring down a 10-point deficit against an underdog that seemed nothing short of blessed during the madness of March, Moe Wagner and MI clamped down on Loyola-Chicago and ended one of the most memorable NCAA Tournament runs ever.

It had Loyola. Loyola!

Do you realize how incredible this tournament has been? Three OT outcomes. We're now into April; March provided a top-three first round weekend in tourney history.

This end to March Madness should be good. Fortunately, Villanova's familiar with this conceit. The team went an unbelievable 13/26 from deep.

The pieces are aligned for a classic, so long as MI plays to its ceiling.

"Obviously we're very talented offensively". Michigan's never been this good on defense under Beilein, either.

A wild NCAA Tournament of upsets comes down to this: Villanova and its squadron of long-range shooters against MI and its ultra-stingy defense, Monday night at the Alamodome.

But Nova's not Loyola, and Monday's going to be wicked interesting with how MI attacks Villanova's outside attack. He was a freshman starter on Villanova's 2016 championship team. Texas Tech muddied the waters in the Elite Eight. But expectations were high for this Villanova basketball team, and after taking Kansas to the woodshed, another championship should be no surprise at all.

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