Welcome to the Truda Report everybody. Tonight is the Men's March Madness Finals, featuring three seed Michigan taking on one seed Villanova, who will be in their second Finals in the last three years. This should be a great game, and a close outcome. I'll be breaking down what I think will be the biggest factors in tonight's game, and I'll be giving my pick to win the National Championship. Make sure to share this article as it helps TTR grow.
Michigan vs. Villanova:
I would first like to acknowledge that I picked Kansas to win against Villanova in the Final Four, and I was dead wrong. What I said in that article, though, does not change my view of Villanova and their vulnerability. Everything I said their, I'm about to say now.
If you've watched Villanova this year, you know that this team is the definition of living and dying by the three. In their last game versus Kansas, they didn't just live, they elevated themselves to God status. They had been shooting at a historic rate all tournament long, but making 18 threes is on another level. They had 13 in the first half, shooting over 50%, and that is what basically put the game out of reach. Nova had seven different players hit a three point shot, which also shows their depth of shooters. What I've said before though, is that teams have bad nights, and they usually come at inopportune times. Michigan is a team that lives on defense and great coaching, which is exactly what counteracts great three point shooting. If Michigan can hold Villanova to a more pedestrian three point shooting night, then this game could be right down to the wire.
I expect this game to be right down to the wire.
On Michigan's end of things, I think what stands out the most is the Moe Wagner mismatch. Villanova's best big man is Omari Spellman, and he's a great modern big man. He can shoot the three, and he has shown the ability to make plays close to the rim. Moe Wagner is another animal though. Wagner single handedly kept Michigan afloat through thirty minutes of bad basketball to start their Final Four game against Loyola Chicago. Wagner is also a modern big man who can shoot, but I like his post game a lot more than I do Spellman's. Wagner's points production is a lot less reliant on his three point shot, and he showed last game that he can get rebounds on the offensive end. Those kind of second chance points are huge against a team as good as Villanova. Wagner could start to take over this game though, and I think if he makes a couple big threes while also playing his game in the post, Michigan will have a chance to win this game down the stretch.
The last thing I say before I tell you my pick is something that Colin Cowherd brought up on his show today on FS1. I've always taken this into account when picking big games, and although I didn't vocalize it in my last post about Villanova and Kansas, I feel like after seeing Vegas setting Nova as 6.5 point favorites I should bring this up. Villanova is one of these scrappy, no name, consistent teams. They play as a well coached unit, and they aren't dominated by big name freshman recruits every year the way other major programs are. Their system is developing players into their later seasons, and then churning out wins with those players. Jalen Brunson is a great example of that system and mentality, and as we've all seen this year he is pivotal to their success. What I'm getting at here is that Villanova is at their best when they're this no name, underdog lineup. They've always had to fight for their wins, and it's usually a surprise when they beat marquee players and programs. This game, that isn't the case. Villanova is huge favorites, and are expected to win with authority. They've proven all year long that they're the best team in the country, and tonight everyone expects them to put the period on that sentence. This is not the Villanova way though. I really wonder how this team is going to play with the expectations and pressure on them, while Michigan comes in with nothing to lose and a scrappy will to win themselves.
This all takes me to my pick. I took Kansas over Villanova because I had second thoughts about Nova's matchups against that team. Tonight, I fear, even more, those same issues. I know that Nova shut me up last time, and I acknowledge that this is the best team in the country, but in a tournament that's been riddled with out of left field upsets, I'm calling for another one. I'm taking Michigan tonight, in what is not the smart or safe pick to win the game. I've just had a gut feeling about Nova these last couple of days, and I think that they could fall apart in an instant. My final score is 72-71, Michigan in a stunner. I'm praying to the basketball gods that I'm right with this one, because picking against Villanova two games in a row is risky, but I've watched a lot of film and I like the mismatches. Michigan is your 2018 NCAA Men's Basketball Champions.
High School Senior from Connecticut obsessed with sports stats, facts, and management.