Michigan basketball’s incredible run came to an end in the 2018 NCAA Championship Game on Monday night, the third-seeded Wolverines falling 79-62 to No. 1 seed Villanova in San Antonio.
The Wolverines took an early lead, but their shooting struggles returned. The Wildcats’ shooting prowess returned as they closed the first half on a 23-7 run to take control of the game. Michigan’s strong defense couldn’t get enough stops, and the offense never found its rhythm. Without strong performances on either end, Michigan couldn’t keep up with the Wildcats, who have now won two of the last three NCAA Tournament titles.
WHY MICHIGAN LOST: Michigan couldn’t get it done on either end of the court against a superior opponent. Villanova flat-out outplayed the Wolverines for most of the game, including a quick run at the start of the second half that put the game out of reach. The Wolverines were going to need big contributions from several players, and that didn’t happen on Monday night.
WHAT IT MEANS: Michigan wasn’t quite a championship-caliber team. The Wolverines disposed of every team in their path but got one of the more favorable opposition slates of any title game participant in recent memory. The Wolverines faced three teams seeded No. 9 or worse and needed a buzzer beater to top No. 6 Houston, the best team it faced other than Villanova. When it came time to face the nation’s top team, the Wolverines weren’t up to the task.
WHO STARRED: Muhammad-Ali Abdur-Rahkman bounced back from a rough night in the semifinals and made 8 of 13 shots for 23 points. Moe Wagner followed up an excellent performance against Loyola-Chicago by contributing 16 points and 7 boards.
WHO STUMBLED: Pretty much everyone on the roster except for those two players didn’t do enough to get the job done. The Wolverines once against made less than 45 percent of their shots, the fifth time in six games that they couldn’t eclipse that pedestrian mark.
WHO IS NEXT: Michigan’s season is over.
— Ryan Ginn (@rmginn) April 3, 2018