Villanova wins 2nd national title in 3 years
SAN ANTONIO (AP) — The Latest on the championship game of the NCAA Tournament (all times local):
Villanova has its second national championship in three years after a 79-62 victory over Michigan.
The Wildcats went 31 years between their first title in 1985 and their second one two years ago in Houston. Coach Jay Wright and Villanova didn't have to wait very long for another one.
Donte DiVincenzo had 31 points for the Wildcats, the most scored against the Wolverines this season. Villanova guard Jalen Brunson, the AP Player of the Year, was in foul trouble and finished with nine points.
Villanova, which trailed by seven points early in the title game in the Alamodome, won all six of its NCAA Tournament games by double figures.
Sophomore guard Donte DiVincenzo has 31 points and Villanova is 3 minutes from its second national championship in three years.
The Wildcats took a 76-54 lead on two free throws by DiVincenzo, who has the most points scored against Michigan this season.
Villanova is playing with AP All-America guard Jalen Brunson sitting on the bench, and still building on its lead.
Brunson left the game after being charged with his fourth personal foul with 10:51 to play.
The guard has nine points on 4-of-11 shooting with two assists.
After Michigan made two free throws to get within 53-40, the lead was back to 62-44 with 7:48 left after Donte DiVincenzo scored nine straight points for the Wildcats, including consecutive 3-pointers.
Villanova started the second half 7 of 14 from the field and is in control of the NCAA Tournament championship game against Michigan.
The Wildcats lead 53-38 with 11:58 left in the game. Michigan needs its defense, one of the best in the country this season, to step up and get some stops or this could turn into a long coronation for the Wildcats.
Villanova is trying to win its second national title in three seasons.
Villanova is out fast in the second half, outscoring Michigan 7-2 — including five straight points for Eric Paschall, and the Wildcats are suddenly up 44-30.
Paschall's up-and-under move forced Michigan coach John Beilein to take an early timeout. Paschall had 24 points and was 10 for 11 in the semifinal against Kansas.
Villanova had a 14-2 run that crossed halftime and Michigan is barely hanging on.
Michigan is going to have to overcome another halftime deficit in the Final Four if coach John Beilein is going to get his first national title.
The Wolverines, who start the second half trailing Villanova 37-28, were down 29-22 at the break in their national semifinal game against Loyola-Chicago and fell behind by 10 early in the second half Saturday night before coming back to win 69-57.
Michigan, trying to win its second national title, is 9-5 this season when trailing at the half.
Villanova has a 37-28 halftime lead in the national championship game, even without a record flurry of made 3-pointers or much from AP Player of the Year Jalen Brunson.
Donte DiVincenzo has 18 points and three of the Wildcats' four made 3s in the first half against Michigan. Villanova, which had 13 of its record 18 made 3-pointers by halftime of its semifinal win over Kansas, are 4-of-13 from long range against Michigan.
Brunson finished the half with seven points, and didn't make his first 3-pointer until the final minute of the first half. Michigan missed its last six shots while going scoreless the final 3:34 of the first half. The Wolverines started 8-for-12, but made just 3-for-16 after that.
Villanova scored the last seven points for its biggest lead of the game.
Donte is on fire. Villanova's Donte DiVincenzo has 16 points through 16 minutes, carrying the Wildcats so far against Michigan. Villanova leads 30-26 after trailing by as many as seven earlier.
DiVincenzo already has his second highest scoring game since mid-February and is two points shy of his NCAA Tournament high of 18 in the second round against Alabama.
Moe Wagner finally missed and even though the 3-pointers aren't falling for Villanova, the Wildcats are hanging in there with 2s and defense. Michigan leads 21-18 with 7:32 left in the first half.
Villanova is 1 for 8 from 3-point range, but the Wildcats have held Michigan scoreless for 3:27. Wagner airballed a 3-pointer for his first miss of the game. He has 11 points.
Something to watch for Villanova. The Wildcats are one of the best passing teams in the country. They have one assist on eight field goals so far. Usually they are above 50 percent.
Moe Wagner is at it again for Michigan and the Wolverines have the early lead over Villanova. Wagner, who had 24 points in the semifinals, has scored nine points on perfect shooting.
Unlike in the semifinals against Kansas, it took a while for the Wildcats to hit their first 3. Donte DiVincenzo finally broke through at 12:44. They had six by that point against Kansas.
Jordan Poole, Michigan's Mr. Buzzer-beater, scored to make it 18-14 Michigan with 11:51 left in the first half. The Wolverines are 7 for 11 from the field.
The NCAA championship game is underway, and Michigan or Villanova will be cutting down the nets at the Alamodome in the next couple of hours or so.
Villanova is playing for its second national championship in three seasons, and third overall. Coach Jay Wright and the Wildcats won the title two years ago about 200 miles away in Houston.
The Wolverines won their only national title in 1989. Michigan coach John Beilein, in his 11th season coaching the maize and blue and 40th season overall as a collegiate head coach, is trying to win his first national championship.
A moment of silence was held to commemorate to the 50th anniversary this week of the death of Martin Luther King. Jr. before the NCAA Tournament championship game at the Alamodome.
After the moment of silence, the United State Air Force Band of the West played the national anthem.
During the anthem, two firefighters rappelled down from the rafters in front of a huge American flag that hung over the court.
The Villanova students have to like their seats for the NCAA championship game. Not only are they just off the court, they are at what has been the winning end so far in the Final Four.
Villanova's student section is at the south end of the Alamodome court, the same as it was Saturday night when the Wildcats beat Kansas.
For the kids in maize and blue, they are on the other end this time. Michigan students were on the south end Saturday night for the victory over Loyola-Chicago, but are on the north end for the title game.
Loyola-Chicago and Kansas students were in the north end when their teams lost.
Back in 1985, before Villanova won its first national title, the Wildcats also faced Michigan in the NCAA Tournament.
That was the only time those two teams met in the NCAA Tournament — until Monday night in the championship game.
The Wolverines were a No. 1 seed 33 years ago when they lost 59-55 to No. 8 seed Villanova in their second-round game. The Wildcats then beat Maryland, North Carolina and Memphis State before their championship-clinching victory over Georgetown.
Villanova hasn't needed any buzzer-beating shots so far in this NCAA Tournament.
The Wildcats won each of their first five tournament games by double digits. They are only the fifth team to reach the championship game that way since the tournament expanded to 64 teams in 1985.
The last team to do that was North Carolina in 2016, but the Tar Heels then lost in the championship game — when Kris Jenkins hit a 3-pointer at the buzzer to give Villanova its second national title.
Those first three teams with double-digits sweeps into the championship game won titles — Michigan State in 2000, Duke in 2001 and North Carolina in 2009.
The late Rollie Massimino used to write a number on the board before games that he coached at Villanova and elsewhere, setting a target for the total of points allowed that he thought would guarantee victory.
For the Wildcats this season, that number is clear: It's 75. Villanova is 25-0 this season when allowing 75 points or fewer.
And that might be a magic number of sorts for Michigan in the national title game as well: The Wolverines are 15-1 when scoring more than 75 this season, and a still-good —but nowhere near as good— 18-6 when they don't surpass that number.
Michigan has only scored more than 75 points once during this tournament, when it beat Texas A&M 99-72 in the Sweet 16.
There's quite a few statistically noteworthy items Villanova will be chasing on Monday night.
If the Wildcats beat Michigan, they'll be the third team in NCAA men's Division I history to win at least 36 games and the national championship — joining Kentucky (38-2 in 2012) and Kansas (37-3 in 2008).
Villanova has already set the national record for 3-pointers made in a season, and if the Wildcats score at least 59 points on Monday night they'll also finish the year as the highest scoring team in the country for the first time since 1950.
The last team to lead the nation in scoring and win the NCAA title was North Carolina in 2005.
The only others to do it since the NCAA began compiling the stats were Ohio State in 1960 — and Loyola of Chicago in 1963.
When the AP Top 25 preseason men's basketball poll came out, Villanova was a very respectable No. 6.
Michigan was an afterthought.
The Wolverines were unranked when this season began, and didn't even crack the Top 25 for the first time until mid-January. Michigan was 39th in the preseason poll balloting, behind seven ranked teams that wouldn't even end up making the NCAA Tournament — No. 10 USC, No. 14 Notre Dame, No. 15 Minnesota, No. 16 Louisville, No. 19 Northwestern, No. 22 Saint Mary's, No. 24 Baylor.
Michigan 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.
Only four teams in the last 50 years started the season unranked and won the NCAA title — UConn in 2011, Florida in 2006, Syracuse in 2003 and Villanova in 1985.
There's a reason so much of the talk surrounding the NCAA Tournament championship game is about 3-pointers.
Villanova is commanding that by making its case as the greatest 3-point shooting team in college history.
The Wildcats set a Final Four record with 18 3-pointers against Kansas to get to the title game against Michigan on Monday night. Villanova (35-4) also has 454 3-pointers this season and 66 during the NCAA Tournament, both records.
The Wildcats use a motion offense and can shoot 3s from every position.
Michigan's goal will be to get Villanova away from the 3-point line and redirect shots. The Wolverines have been effective at both against other teams this season.
College basketball's wild 2017-18 ride ends in San Antonio, where Villanova meets Michigan in the national championship game of the NCAA Tournament.
The Wildcats are playing for their second title in three years under coach Jay Wright. The Wolverines are vying for their first championship since 1989 and to make up for the one coach John Beilein lost in 2013, at least a little.
This meeting on Monday night will come down to strength against strength.
Villanova is one of the greatest 3-point shooting teams in college basketball history, breaking season and NCAA Tournament records. The Wildcats blasted Kansas in the national semifinals, hitting a record 18 from beyond the arc.
Michigan rode its defense into the title game. The Wolverines are the nation's third-most efficient team on defense and one of the best at defending the 3-point line.