#3 Michigan vs. #1 VIllanova -6.5
538 Win Prob: Villanova 64%
Ken Pom says: Villanova 74-68
Joes vs. Pros: 68% of the public is on Villanova in this one.
McIntyre: Villanova -6.5. I tried. Really hard. But I couldn’t find a way to take Michigan. No numbers back up Michigan. Foul trouble? Villanova’s deeper. A slow-down game? Villanova has won games this year scoring in the 60s, 70s, 80s, and 90s. The only angle I could find: John Beilein has been here before. In the 2013 title game against Louisville, Michigan was a 4-point underdog against the #1 overall seed. The Cardinals were a Top 10 team in defense and offense according to Ken Pom … and found themselves down 12 to Michigan in the 1st half – even though star Trey Burke was saddled in foul trouble – and that was because Beilein is a coaching mastermind. But Louisville won, and covered. What can Beilein hatch to stop one of the best offensive teams in college basketball this century?
Looking back, that Michigan starting lineup had five players who are currently in the NBA. He doesn’t have that now. He’s got one in Moe Wagner and perhaps a 2nd in Charles Matthews. Michigan’s gotten here with outstanding defense, but suffocating Loyola in the 2nd half and Florida State for an entire game is nothing like slowing down the Villanova juggernaut. Michigan’s five opponents in the tournament have made just 18 three-pointers; Villanova made that many vs Kansas. But Michigan hasn’t beaten a Top-5 seed yet. Could the great defensive numbers be a product of the opponents?
I’d guess a 1-3-1 zone makes an appearance, and when Villanova shoots Michigan out of it, and they tries something like Kansas attempted – doubling Jalen Brunson in the post – the shooters will splash.
Michigan’s best chance: Wagner gets Spellman in trouble, puts up a 30-10 game, Brunson/Bridges shoot as poorly as they did vs Texas Tech (to be clear, that clunker came 48 hours after a draining game against West Virginia), and one of Duncan Robinson or Jordan Poole chip in 15+ points and the Wolverines pull a colossal upset. But I’ll go with Villanova 73, Michigan 61, which seems low (yeah, I’d lean to the under).
Vik’s Pick: Michigan +6.5. I will go contrarian and take Michigan in this one. The public is hammering Villanova, and understandably so after the show they put on vs. Kansas (recency bias). Because of their last performance, the line is slightly higher as well, because Vegas knows the Nova money will be pouring in tonight. Nova will not be getting the same wide open looks against this Michigan defense (AdjD 3) tonight. Michigan also plays at a snail’s pace and is taller than Nova:
Michigan will try to slow the game down and make it a grinder, as their average length of possession is 18.7 secs (#309 in the nation). Their length will also make it more difficult for Nova to shoot and finish over their defense. We saw that come into play when Loyola had difficulty finishing at the rim or shooting over these Michigan defenders during the second half of their game. Although the Wildcats beat Texas Tech and covered vs. them, they had an abysmal shooting performance in that game (33.3% FG%, 16.7% 3PT%). Because of how well they shot last game, coupled with going up against a great Wolverine defense, I see the Wildcats shooting regressing tonight.
John Beilein’s second half adjustments also have been great all tournament long, which is another reason I like the points. Shop around a little bit if you are on Michigan so you can get +7…that is what I will be on in real life. Every point counts, especially if it comes down to some free throws late.
Phillips: Villanova -6.5. Nova has been the best team in the country all season and has shown that in March (and now April). The tournament exposes your weaknesses and puts them on display regularly. The thing is, Jay Wright’s squad doesn’t have any weaknesses. Sure, Villanova’s ceiling may not be as high as some other teams this season, but the Wildcats never just mail it in.
Michigan has had long stretches of awful play in four of its five tournament games. If that happens Monday night, Villanova will bury the Wolverines. John Beilein’s team needs to get hot from 3-point range and stay that way to have any hope of cutting down the nets. I don’t see it happening. Villanova is too balanced, too disciplined, too smart and too strong.
Koster: Michigan moneyline. I love the Wolverines, always have, always will.
Burack: Villanova -6.5
Lisk: Michigan +6.5. They’ve about covered it but I would say that Michigan’s defense is what allows them to have poor stretches. Villanova beat the two best defensive teams they played this year–Texas Tech and Tennessee–but did not light it up from outside. The difference between those teams and Michigan is height and ability to defend inside. Obviously if Villanova shoots like they did in the semi then Michigan has no chance, but I think this will be a good one and will take the points.