Villanova Crushes Michigan to Win Its Second National Title in Three Seasons

Villanova guard Donte DiVincenzo dunks the ball against Michigan during the championship game of the 2018 NCAA tournament.
(Photo: Bob Donnan, USA TODAY Sports)

Congrats to Villanova

It’s the second national title in three seasons for the Wildcats after their 79-62 defeat of Michigan. Donte DiVincenzo off the bench led all scorers with 31 points. Mikal Bridges added 19 points and was a big help in the second half as Villanova kept the Wolverines at bay after blowing the game open with a run bridging the first and second halves.

Michigan got off to a fast start and led by five at 19-14, but couldn’t keep pace against Villanova. Indicative of his team’s evening, Moritz Wagner had 11 early points, but he finished 16.

Villanova struggled early and didn’t shoot the ball as well as it normally does. The veteran team didn’t panic and then DiVincenzo asserted himself and became the star of the night, helping Jay Wright to a second title and elevate the coach to among the elites in the sport.

Bridges doing his part, too

While Donte DiVincenzo will get the headlines with his amazing performance off the bench, Villanova guard Mikal Bridges has quietly been outstanding the second half with Jalen Brunson on the bench with foul trouble.

He has 15 of his 19 points after the break as Villanova has left no doubt about its superiority. The performance is even more impressive with Brunson, the Big East player of the year, having just nine points.

Villanova leads 77-56 with just under three minutes remaining.

Villanova closing in

This feels more like a coronation than a game at this point. Just when Michigan gets close to getting the score under double figures, Villanova has an answer. Mikal Bridges hit a three and then two fouls shots to push the edge to 69-50 with five minutes left.

It would take a meltdown at this point for the Wildcats not to win their second title in three seasons.

It’s the Donte DiVincenzo show

Jalen Brunson went out with four fouls and Villanova just turned to its super sub. DiVincenzo had nine consecutive points, including two long three-pointers to push the Wildcats ahead 62-44 with 7:48 remaining.

DiVincenzo has 27 points of the bench to lead all scorers, and his success has come on a variety of drives, threes and mid-range shots. A breakout game for the sophomore that figures to be a star next season for the Wildcats.

Villanova still in control

The Wildcats briefly pushed their lead to 18 before Michigan got a bit closer. It’s 53-38 with 12 minutes left and something drastic is going to have to change for the Wolverines.

Michigan has made just three of its 17 three-point attempts and some have not been close. Some outside shooting will help open up the inside game and driving opportunities. But so far it is not happening.

First-half star Donte DiVincenzo has cooled off for Villanova. Mikal Bridges has found his range, though, with five quick points.

Michigan losing its cool and Villanova is pulling away

Moritz Wagner has been frustrated after his strong start. He let those frustrations get the best of him after being called for an offensive. A technical was assessed on the Michigan junior and Villanova’s Omari Spellmen after the play. Both now have three fouls for the game.

The Wildcats will have the ball with a 48-33 lead after the media timeout with 15:24 remaining in the game.

Villanova continues its impressive play out of locker room

The Wildcats quickly pushed their halftime advantage to double digits with Eric Paschall’s three and then extended it with Paschall’s reverse layup.

Michigan calls timeout with the score 44-30 in favor of Villanova and 18:03 left in the game. Danger time for the Wolverines.

Villanova takes control at halftime

Michigan started fast and had Villanova on its heels early. The Wolverines went cold, and the Wildcats got a tremendous first half from sub Donte DiVincenzo to take a 37-28 lead into halftime.

It was a 23-7 run to end the half for the 2016 national champions.

DiVincenzo’s 18 points have overcome some cold outside shooting by the starting five. After a shooting display in the semifinals, the Villanova starters are just from 1-of-9 from three.

Michigan led 19-14 just eight minutes into the game. The Wolverines managed just nine points the rest of the way as the Wildcats turned up the defense and the open looks from three did not go down. It has to be a bit demoralizing to play so well for the first 10 minutes and yet trail by nine.

Some of those outside shots need to be made in second half to pull closer. It also will help if Charles Matthews can get going. He has just two points after averaging 16.6 points in the first five NCAA tournament games.

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SOURCE: USA Today – Erick Smith