Michigan and Villanova meet on Monday night in the 2018 National Championship Game. The Wolverines and Wildcats took different paths to get here, but both ended up in the Final Four, and both won their semifinal game by double digits.
If you haven’t been watching Villanova all season, there is no need to feel ashamed. Here is what you need to know about Michigan’s title game opponent:
Villanova shoots the ball well. No, like, really well. Really, really well.
Three-point shooting is what catapulted Villanova to a huge lead against Kansas and allowed the Wildcats to coast into the National Championship Game. This team set the record for 3-pointers in a single Final Four game … in one half!
Everyone on the court is a threat from deep for Villanova. Michigan’s perimeter defense is nothing short of excellent, but the Wolverines will have their stiffest test of the season on Monday. Just look at how well each Villanova starter shoots from deep:
Jalen Brunson: 41 percent
Phil Booth: 39 percent
Mikal Bridges: 44 percent
Eric Paschall: 36 percent
Omari Spellman: 44 percent
Michigan’s defense vs. Villanova’s shooting probably will decide this game.
Jay Wright is Villanova’s coach, and he’s leading a consistently excellent program
Jay Wright is in his 17th (!!!) season leading the Wildcats. Under his direction, Villanova has made the NCAA Tournament in 13 of its last 14 seasons after missing the Big Dance in Wright’s first three tries. His only previous Division I head coaching experience came at Hofstra, where Wright coached from 1994 to 2001, making the NCAA Tournament in his final two seasons.
Nova has made three Final Fours under Wright. He led the Wildcats to one of two national titles in program history just two years ago and doesn’t appear to be slowing down anytime soon.
Villanova has been here even more recently than Michigan has
Michigan’s most recent National Championship Game appearance was in 2013, when the Wolverines fell to a Louisville team that has since been forced to vacate its title. Villanova made it to the championship in 2016, as you may recall, and topped North Carolina on Kris Jenkins’ 3-pointer at the buzzer.
Six players from that team are back for this go-round.
Jalen Brunson makes Villanova go
Brunson was a freshman on Villanova’s last title team. Now he is front-and-center for the Wildcats. Brunson averages 19.2 points and 4.7 assists per game, and took home AP Player of the Year and Naismith Trophy honors. Brunson is a deadly outside shooter, hitting on 41 percent of his 3-pointers and 60 percent of his 2-pointers this season.
Brunson upped his NBA draft stock in a big way this season, but he’s not the Wildcats’ best pro prospect.
Mikal Bridges is Villanova’s NBA prospect you need to know
Bridges is the Villanova player who has pro scouts salivating. He is 6-foot-7 and 210 pounds with a 7-foot-2 wingspan and quick feet. That allows him to lock down defensively while still contesting and blocking shots at the rim. He projects as a quality 3-and-D player because he adds a 44 percent shooting stroke from deep to that defensive background.