Michigan Basketball: 3 keys to beating Villanova for the national title

The hero who sent Notre Dame to the NCAA Championship hit a second incredible straight game-winner to seal the title

Villanova University and the University of MI, which will play for the NCAA men's basketball championship Monday night, both have proud basketball traditions.

At the risk of jumping on board an already crowded bandwagon, I would only add that Jay Wright's team is also the pick of not one but two methods that have successfully predicted and/or screened every title game victor since 2004. Wagner's outstanding performance in the semifinals against Loyola (24 points, 15 rebounds and a.625 field goal percentage) has Michigan's state dreaming with an NCAA title.

The German-born big man is unlike any frontcourt player the Wildcats faced this season, as he possesses the ability to drift out behind the three-point line and knock down shots. Villanova looms over the Wolverines as obvious favorites, but don't discount the Wolverines. They've also managed to outpace Loyola, a team that had stayed close enough to defeat other opponents in the tournament, to get here.

Simpson, Muhammad-Ali Abdur-Rahkman and the other MI guards are going to spend plenty of time around the three-point line, as they try to stop a team that averages 11.6 three-pointers per game. That's made them a popular pick for basketball pundits across the internet - and SB Nation is no different.

MI has Mo Wagner, but Villanova has more of everything else. While the Wolverines have done a lot thanks to their defense, they'll try to keep up with a high-scoring Wildcats team on Monday evening.

Michigan, meanwhile, ranks third in the nation in adjusted defensive efficiency.

Charles Matthews was Michigan's second-leading scorer during the regular season, but has upped his game in the NCAA Tournament. The game peaked with 26.1 million viewers from 11:15-11:30 p.m. Florida State and Texas A&M were both held five attempts below their season averages in losing to MI in the NCAA Tournament. MI will need its stellar seniors to get into a rhythm to have any shot at taking down the Wildcats.

All year I've said Villanova is the best team, so no sense backing off now.

For Michigan, controlling and limiting the number of offensive possessions the Wildcats have seems like the best chance at a title.

The betting line is up to 6.5 points in favor of Villanova, according to OddsShark, and the over/under is 144.5.

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Get ready for 3-pointers.

The good news for MI?

MI must find a way to run the Wildcats off the 3-point line and get them to miss at least some of the 3s they do get to have a chance.

When the three-pointer first appeared, it was more novelty than time-tested strategy. Hail! to Michigan! Being a Yooper (that's a born-and-raised resident of Michigan's Upper Peninsula, north of the Mackinac Bridge), I have to cheer for Michigan in this particular matchup. "The way we play is to make people take the tough contested 2s".

Eric Paschall and Omari Spellman: Bill Self and Kansas had no clue what to do with Paschall.

Villanova's offense is better than Michigan's defense, and the Wolverines will also be hurt by their free-throw shooting. Keeping Paschall and fellow big man Omari Spellman off the boards will be huge for MI. Villanova will face MI for the championship in San Antonio. What a ride it has been.

Villanova is simply too much for anyone to handle.

On the other side of the ball, Loyola was a bundle of nervous energy and on multiple occasions their players tripped and barreled into one another, causing mayhem on the court.

The edge goes to Wright, but just barely.

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