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#pounditTuesday, May 21, 2024

Five biggest reasons why Villanova won the national championship game

Donte DiVincenzo

For the second time in three seasons, the Villanova Wildcats won college basketball’s top prize. This time they did so with an emphatic 79-62 win over the Michigan Wolverines on Monday night in San Antonio. Donte DiVincenzo was the star of the show, but their run was a team effort that featured some of the most impressive guard play and shooting prowess the sport has seen in some time.

Here are the five biggest reasons why the Wildcats were able to best Michigan on Monday night.

1) Donte DiVincenzo

The first half started very poorly for Villanova. Jalen Brunson struggled, the Wolverines were defending the three-point line tremendously well, and the Wildcat offense looked completely out of sync.

Enter DiVincenzo.

With his teammates struggling, the sophomore guard took over the game. He scored 18 first-half points, penetrating the Michigan defense and even opening things up a bit on the perimeter. Thanks to DiVincenzo, Villanova closed the first half on a 23-7 run and never looked back.

He had an equally important role in the second half. When Brunson wound up on the bench with four fouls, DiVincenzo made sure the Wildcats didn’t falter, adding another 13 points and helping them open up the margin even more. He finished with a career-high 31 — exactly half of Michigan’s total output.

2) Interior play

Michigan may have had Moe Wagner on their side, but it was Villanova who dominated the low post. 12 of Villanova’s 26 rebounds were of the offensive variety. Omari Spellman had four, Divincenzo added three, while Mikal Bridges added two.

Ultimately, Villanova’s interior play wasn’t necessarily their forte. The Wildcats got to the championship game by throwing up three pointers and making them, but Michigan’s excellent perimeter defense forced them to adapt. They did, dominating the paint on their way to a second title in three seasons.

3) Superior weapons

Sometimes it simply comes down to talent. As good as Wagner was for Michigan, it’s hard for any team in the country to match up with Villanova. Even if you bottle up Brunson, as the Wolverines largely did, there was Mikal Bridges on hand to turn in a solid outing and contribute 19 points. Then there was the aforementioned DiVincenzo. Add in Eric Paschall and Omari Spellman down low, and the Wolverines just had too many matchup problems. It ended up showing on the scoreboard.

4) Free throws and fouls

You can say what you want about whether they were valid calls or not, but Michigan found itself in foul trouble within the first ten minutes of the game. Villanova was in the bonus, and Duncan Robinson — a key offensive contributor for the Wolverines — had picked up two very quick fouls.

Villanova took advantage at the line, and Michigan definitely missed Robinson in those last 11 minutes as they struggled mightily from the field. The Wildcats went 15-of-20 from the charity stripe. A number of those free throws came in the first half when they were trying to recover from a wobbly start.

5) Composure

Everything went right for Michigan during the first eight minutes or so of the first half. That didn’t last because Villanova is a veteran team that has been here before. Brunson, Bridges, DiVincenzo, Paschall, and Phil Booth were all members of the 2016 championship team, even if they weren’t huge parts of it. Villanova stayed calm, executed their game plan, and rolled over the Wolverines. In contrast, there were times Michigan rushed shots, settled, and didn’t play smart basketball.

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