During the week, Land of 10 reporters following the Wolverines answer questions on the minds of Michigan fans. Submit a question or suggest a topic by sending a tweet here to Rachel Lenzi or here to Kevin Goheen. Check back Monday through Friday as we answer the Michigan Question of the Day. Go here to see our previous answers.
Will Michigan basketball win national championship?
This is a collective question that seems to be on everyone’s mind as the National Championship Game approaches. Michigan faces Villanova at 9:20 p.m. ET Monday for the national title in San Antonio.
Here are three reasons why Michigan will win the national championship:
Defense: Michigan has the third-best defense in the nation according to KenPom.com, a college basketball analytics website that rates efficiency. The Wolverines shut down the inside presence of both Texas A&M and a much taller Florida State team, which had seven players who stood at least 6-foot-7.
Also, Michigan’s defense has a good shot to shut down Villanova’s 3-point shooting. A note from ESPN college basketball analytics guru John Gasaway: Michigan’s opponents have made the same number of 3-pointers in 200 minutes of NCAA Tournament action (18) that Villanova made in 40 minutes against Kansas.
Villanova exploited a suspect Kansas defense in its 95-79 win Saturday at the Alamodome. The Wildcats shot 55.4 percent, including 45 percent on 3-pointers. But the Wildcats struggled against Texas Tech in a 71-59 win in the Sweet Sixteen; Texas Tech had the fourth-best defense in the country overall this season, according to KenPom.com.
Team depth: Michigan has a rotating cast of contributors, starting with guard Charles Matthews. Matthews scored 17 points against Loyola and has averaged 16.6 points and 6.8 rebounds in Michigan’s five tournament games.
Duncan Robinson and Jaaron Simmons stepped in with key 3-pointers in the second half of the win Saturday against Loyola-Chicago, to help the Wolverines end a drought from behind the arc. Jon Teske hit 2 free throws as part of the Wolverines’ 5-point play in a 64-63 tournament win against Houston.
And, of course, Jordan Poole hit a miraculous 3-pointer against Houston at the buzzer that’s helped propel the Wolverines.
Who’s got next for the Wolverines? Whoever it is, he has a chance to shine on college basketball’s biggest stage.
Sheer luck, combined with persistence: Some argue that Michigan had an easier route to the Final Four than, say, Kansas. But a team doesn’t make it this far in the NCAA Tournament without the help of a few good breaks, either: namely Poole’s 3-pointer, and the aforementioned 5-point play against Houston.
Michigan has continued to forge forward, and as a voice told Ray Kinsella in the movie Field of Dreams: “Go the distance.”
“We didn’t go 99 yards not to get the touchdown,” Matthews told reporters Sunday in San Antonio. “We want to win it all.”
The Wolverines have come this far. There’s simply no reason to regress now.
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