March Madness 2018: What To Expect In The National Title Game

Through all of the chaos that has permeated throughout the NCAA Tournament this postseason, it has all been efficiently and entertainingly reduced into a National Title game that is represented by two elite programs. Incredibly, this year, the College Basketball Finale will feature two teams that do not possess a single one-and-done athlete, an aspect that is relatively unusual amongst the blue-chip programs of this sport. Better still, Michigan and Villanova play two very divergent styles of basketball, with the Wolverines being a defensive oriented team while the Wildcats consistently make their hay by shooting relentlessly and accurately from the three-point line. Going into this contest, Michigan will be under an immense amount of pressure as the Wolverines have failed to bring home a National Title in their previous three appearances in the Championship Game. For the Wildcats, it’s all about further elevating the cache of head coach Jay Wright, a cerebral basketball leader who would make a strong case for becoming a Hall-Of-Famer with his second National Title win in three years.

For Michigan To Win…

For the Wolverines to end up being the unexpected victors by the end of the night, their destiny will be predicated on one simple thing: guarding the perimeter aggressively and exceptionally. If the way the Wolverines smothered the Ramblers in the Final Four is any indication of what Michigan’s defense is capable of, the Wildcats will have a tremendously difficult time at finding a comfortable rhythm offensively. Holding the Ramblers to shooting just 10% from three-point range while garnering ten steals, the Wolverines were incredibly tenacious at not only preventing Loyola-Chicago from taking high percentage shots but were also especially adept at disrupting the Ramblers usually efficient ball facilitators, particularly in the second half. Offensively, the Wolverines will need to be the scoring force that shot 58.3% from three-point range against Texas A&M in the Sweet Sixteen, rather than the team that shot just 25% from beyond the arch.

For Villanova To Win…

In an age where perimeter shooting is all the rage, the Wildcats have fully embraced this modern competitive philosophy and have executed it to perfection throughout the regular and postseason. Against the offensively adept Kansas Jayhawks, the Wildcats made it a point to shoot the long ball early and often as they shot 40 three-pointers while making 45% of them throughout the contest. However, equally impressive to the Wildcats shooting capabilities are their unselfish athletes that possess the instincts and patients to find their open shooters on a consistent basis (20 assists against Kansas). Although the Wildcats do not have the defensive juggernauts that the Wolverines possess, they do have the size to block shots and attack the opposing glass fairly consistently. If the Wildcats are able to do what they have done in the tournament from a shooting perspective against the Wolverines, Michigan’s hopes of winning it all for the first time in the history of their program will be over before the contest truly gets started.


And The Winner Is…

Villanova. While there is more to being a great basketball program than just shooting the basketball, the Wildcats have made this tactic click practically uninterrupted with successful results. Even when the Wildcats struggled to shoot the basketball against Texas Tech in the Elite Eight, Villanova was able to revert to a grittier style of basketball by relentlessly attacking the defensive boards with their sizeable athletes. Although the Wolverines have a zealous big man in Moritz Wagner that can defend the rim and work the low the post with relative ease, Michigan has looked fairly inconsistent when it comes to shooting the basketball from mid to long range. While their defense is unquestionably elite and capable of making adjustments in-game with impressive results, it becomes fair to wonder if the Wolverines have the depth and sustainable tenacity to keep up with the fast-paced shooting of the well-coached Wildcats. In the end, as the Wildcats have done throughout this season, their prolific shooters will ultimately find a way to pull away from a Michigan program that is enticingly gritty yet lacks the well-balanced nature to contend with a highly talented opponent.

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