On To The Championship — Villanova Preview
In what would have been considered a near miracle occurrence just two months ago, Michigan has advanced to the championship game of the NCAA. The entire Wolverine following should grasp this as a proud moment. The foe is Villanova, the most dominant team of this year’s tournament.
Media pundits have pegged the Big 12 and the SEC as the leagues where the strength lies. Besides Kansas, I cannot remember any other team making true noise in the recent March Madness events. Texas Tech had a good run to the Elite Eight, taking out Purdue before getting swamped by Villanova. The ACC had decent runs, but the three powerhouses could not advance. Conferences like the AAC and the Big East always have teams capable of making a run.
No team in the nation had a better chance than Villanova of advancing this far. The media, wise and accurate sages they proclaim to be, have bounced all over the map picking the team to win in all starting in early November. Michigan State and the great talent possessed by the green was hailed. Duke, with the dynamite young talent was mentioned. As the season processed, it became obvious that there was not one usual blue blood team that stood head and shoulders above the field. It was said by all that the tournament this year was wide open. Teams on top hit low spots, including Virginia, Michigan State, and Villanova. All righted the ship.
Virginia is a top heavy defensive team, but when everything is working, Villanova literally has it all. The team has some good youth and plenty of veterans with tournament experience. Villanova is the best offensive team in the nation and really good defensively. The stats are a little deceptive defensively since Villanova scores a bunch and plays fast, this bumps up the opponent’s numbers a little. The team is exceptional at fundamentals and execution.
Coach Jay Wright runs as good a practice as any coach in America, maybe in all sports combined. Everything is geared to precision, hard competition, and results. His team has tremendous mental toughness. To beat this team, an opponent must have high talent and simply outplay the Wildcats. This team rarely provides an opportunity for an opponent to sneak off with a lucky win. Villanova won the Championship in 2016 and is at the peak of readiness heading into the final game.
Coach Beilein knows this game will be a war. The players have eyes, they saw the Kansas massacre Saturday late night. There cannot be any fear, just preparation and intensity of competing. Villanova takes the court like the team is heading into the Charge of the Light Brigade. This is not a Guy Lewis Houston team or a Jerry Tarkanian UNLV roll out the ball and let the talent go and watch the mistakes against smart competition type of team. This Villanova team is scientific and effective.
First off, Michigan will need a supreme defensive effort by all. It seems obvious here that either Kansas was too slow and vulnerable to Villanova’s options, or Villanova is simply that good on offense. We will find out one way or another.
Second, Michigan must turn around the 3 point game, in both directions. If Villanova shoots like Saturday, and if Michigan shoots like Saturday, then the game becomes nothing more than casual viewing after fifteen minutes. Maybe Michigan tries other options, like isolation and drive. Villanova is decent in defending the lane.
Last, Michigan has accomplished the number one rule of tournament competition; find a way to win. Things looked dark in most of the match-ups, but between a coach that adjusts well on the fly and kids that show an ability to float in adversity, the guys did the improbable; advanced to the final game.
Every team in the country in Division 1 basketball is now on a losing streak, except two; Michigan and Villanova. That is all the critics and media pundits need to know. Tomorrow there will be only one winning streak, either 15 for Michigan or 11 for Villanova.
This is not quite David and Goliath, but David better have an accurate slingshot tonight.
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