MI heads to national title game against Villanova

NCAA Tournament TV schedule today (4/2/18): What time, channel is Villanova vs. Michigan? Livestream, watch online | NCAA championship

The Wolverines haven't played anyone like the Wildcats in the tournament. They won the Big Ten Tournament last month and have stormed through some solid opponents in recent weeks on the way to the NCAA Tournament final.

As the seconds ticked off, Wagner pumped his fist to the many MI fans who made the trek to San Antonio and Loyola's Aundre Jackson, who got the Ramblers rolling with a late game-winning 3 in the first round against Miami, looked toward the roof and shook his head.

The oddsmakers are in awe of the Wildcats, who are the largest favorites in the title game since Duke was a seven-point favorite over Butler in the 2010 title tilt. The Wildcats beat North Carolina 77-74 on Kris Jenkins' three-point buzzer beater for the 2016 title, capping a 35-5 season. The move is to discourage fans from climbing the poles should Villanova win Monday night. If there is one reason why MI is playing for the national championship, it's the defense. MI showed against Texas A&M it can get hot, but the Wolverines have struggled on offense in four of their five tournament games.

MI dispatched Cinderella Loyola-Chicago 69-57, overcoming a 10-point second half deficit, behind Moritz Wagner's 24 points and 15 rebounds.

"They can all shoot", MI center Moe Wagner said.

If there is a team that can slow 'Nova's 3-roll, it could be the Wolverines.

The only others to do it since the NCAA began compiling the stats were Ohio State in 1960 - and Loyola of Chicago in 1963. But if Villanova is seeing the Alamodome rims as it was on Saturday, it's still going to likely come out on top. Having flown under the radar for much of the season, the Wolverines did not make an appearance in the AP Top 25 until the week of January 22.

"Until we went up to beat Michigan State we weren't nationally ranked".

MI wasn't the only big preseason poll whiff: Virginia ended the regular season ranked No. 1, and the Cavaliers were also unranked to start the season.

Villanova is 23-2 when it hits 10 or more 3-pointers in a game.

Get ready for 3-pointers. While I do think Villanova is the best team in the country, something about this MI run makes me believe that the spread here is just too high.

The Wildcats set a Final Four record with 18 3-pointers against Kansas to get to the title game against MI on Monday night. That included a record-setting effort against the Jayhawks in which the Wildcats hit 18 of 40 from 3-point range.

The Wildcats use a motion offense and can shoot 3s from every position.

MI must find a way to run the Wildcats off the 3-point line and get them to miss at least some of the 3s they do get to have a chance. The Wolverines have been effective at both against other teams this season.

Free Press sports writers and columnists predict Monday's national championship game between MI and Villanova in San Antonio.

The Wildcats are playing for their second title in three years under coach Jay Wright.

When the 68-team bracket was first revealed, many pointed to a potential Villanova vs. Virginia national championship as the ultimate battle of offense vs. defense. Should the Wildcats beat MI by at least 10 points in Monday's title game, Villanova would be the fourth team in the modern era to win every tournament game by double figures. But it's still a bit jarring to see a solid No. 3 seed like MI completely written off. The center piled up 24 points and 15 rebounds - including six offensive boards, more than the rest of his team combined - while the Wolverines roared back for a 69-57 win.

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