UNITED STATES—Well it all comes down to this. I will toot my horn for having at least one of the teams in the final matchup for the 2018 NCAA Tournament, as the Michigan Wolverines made it all the way to the big dance. The other team to complete such a feat: Villanova. Yeah, I will admit the games on Saturday were slightly underwhelming. Michigan, while expected to win had a few stumbles in the game, but still came out on top.
Villanova, however, was dancing circles around the Kansas Jayhawks, and is considered a front-runner to win it all, but don’t count out the Wolverines people. So I was NOT surprised at all to see both teams came face-to-face. However, this is where things became interesting to say the least. On Monday, April 2, the Michigan Wolverines and Villanova Wildcats in the NCAA Championship Game, where many saw Michigan as a surefire underdog, with Villanova being a heavy favorite to take it all.
Michigan sure kicked off the game with intensity, leading 14-8 within the first 7 minutes of the game, and that included 2 three-point shots. Michigan was playing hard, and Villanova appeared to need a moment to get momentum moving in the right direction. It was very clear that the Wolverines dictated the first half of the game, and Villanova was forced to play at their opponents level not the other way around. However, Villanova found a way to take the lead 23-21, with 5 minutes left in the game. Yeah, it became clear that this championship game would be a fight to the finish, well at least the first half.
Both teams were neck-and-neck when it came to rebounds and assists in the first half, however, Villanova’s free throw shooting was at 83 percent, while Michigan struggled with an underwhelming 57 percent. Another issue the Wolverines struggled with was their inability to capitalize on Villanova’s turnovers. I mean the Wildcats had a total of 4 in the first half, and Michigan also had 2 steals.
Donte DiVicenzo led the Wildcats in scoring with a stellar 18 points in the first half. The kid is a beast and he can shoot a three-pointer like no one else. I will admit that was a moment seeing that ball get stuck in the rim on Michigan’s end during the final minute of the first half. So going into the second half Villanova had the lead 37-28. Better defense and more offense are going to be key for Michigan to reassert themselves into the game and have a shot at victory.
Oh the frustration, with only 2 minutes into the second half, the Wildcats are already up by 12 points, and Michigan is in desperate need of some sort of intervention; I feel like they’ve mentally checked out of the game and they did not play like they played during the first 6-7 minutes of the game to prove they have fight in them. Unfortunately, Villanova scored shot after shot, after shot giving them a 53-38 lead with just under 12 minutes left in the game. With less than 10 minutes in the game, Villanova was not letting up on maintaining a double digit lead over the Wolverines, who fought to stay in the game. I really thought Michigan had a shot at this, but their performance during the second half was just bad; it felt as if the offense was stagnant, and a vast majority of the players weren’t willing to take shots. This is the championship game; go big or go home.
I mean where was Jordan Poole, Moe Wagner? The Wolverines were outrebounded, outscored and when it came to three-point shots and free throw shooting, they never had a chance. The first 10 minutes of the game they were a force to be reckoned with, but that steam that had quickly fizzled out. Without a doubt Villanova’s Donte DiVicenzo was the star of the game with offense and defense for his Wildcats leading them to a 79-62 victory. And with that the Villanova Wildcats are NCAA Championships for the second time in 3 years. The team also hoisted that title in 2016.
Written By Kelsey Thomas