NCAAM Game of the Week: Villanova vs Michigan
The game of the week this week takes us to just outside of Philadelphia where we will see a rematch of last year’s national championship game. Michigan will travel to the Main Line to take on Villanova in the Wildcats’ brand-new arena, Finneran Pavilion.
The defending champions have a new look team this year after losing four players to the NBA draft. Jalen Brunson, Omari Spellman, Donte DiVincenzo and Mikal Bridges departed early for the NBA after cruising through the 2018 NCAA Tournament.
Villanova returns seniors Phil Booth and Eric Paschall. Outside of those two and sophomore guard Collin Gillespie, much of the roster is very inexperienced. Jay Wright has brought in an exciting freshman class, highlighted by Jahvon Quinerly and Saddiq Bey.
On the other side, Michigan is a very young team as it has just one senior on the roster. John Beilein lost Moritz Wagner to the NBA draft, a loss that the Wolverines will feel as Wagner was crucial in Michigan’s run to the championship game last season.
Both teams are 2-0 on the young season and both have coasted to relatively easy victories so far. This game will be both teams’ toughest test so far, as part of the Gavitt Tipoff Games, which matches up the Big Ten and the Big East.
Even after losing four key players from last season, Villanova still appears to be one of the best teams in the country, coming into this game ranked eighth. Facing No. 18 Michigan will provide a measuring stick for where the Wildcats are at this point in the season.
Villanova will look to its aforementioned seniors in Booth and Paschall to provide leadership in big games. Both players have experience in big games, and Booth is remembered for his 20-point output off the bench in Villanova’s 2016 title game win over North Carolina.
Michigan’s only senior Charles Matthews, who has been leading the charge for the Wolverines early in the season. They will rely on his experience in a tough road environment.
Villanova is a team that can explode offensively on any given night as it is known for lethal three-point shooting. The Wildcats are averaging 93 points per game through their first two contests. Michigan though, is on the other end of the spectrum.
Through two games, Michigan has averaged only 59.5 points per game and has relied on its defense through the early part of the season. Villanova is not Holy Cross or Norfolk State, so will Michigan’s defense be able to hold down a national power in Villanova?
In the national championship game last year, Villanova pretty much ran away with it. If the shots start falling for the Wildcats, that could be the case again come Wednesday night. Who will come out on top in a matchup of a top offense and a top defense?
Villanova appears to be the better team going into this matchup, and if Michigan can’t hold the Wildcats to around 70 points or less then it doesn't stand much of a chance. The Wolverines offense is not lethal enough to keep up with Villanova.
If this game were in Michigan or on a neutral site, the Wolverines would have a better chance of winning this game. But with the game at Villanova, Michigan is going to have a tough time keeping up with the Wildcats and will likely see themselves suffer its first loss of the season. Villanova will pull away late for an 81-65 victory.
Jake Starr is a freshman majoring in broadcast journalism. To contact him, email firstname.lastname@example.org.