After a somewhat rough start, Villanova basketball found its groove in the second half, defeating Michigan in San Antonio to win the 2018 national title.
For the second time in three years, Villanova basketball is the king of college basketball. Jay Wright’s squad dominated their first five games of the NCAA Tournament and there was more of the same in the national championship. The team struggled to find the bottom of the net for the first few minutes against Michigan but eventually found their rhythm from the floor.
In addition, the Wildcats began to lock down on the Wolverines’ scoring threats. On the night, Michigan was only able to post 62 points on 42.6% shooting. This included horrendous shooting from 3-point range, where the team shot 3-23 (13.0%). Jay Wright utilized a small-ball lineup for much of the night and his players responded on both ends of the floor.
Most notably, Donte DiVincenzo was the guard who paced the Wildcats in the first half while the remainder of the roster could not get shots to fall. While players like Jalen Brunson and Mikal Bridges struggled to get open looks, “The Michael Jordan of Delaware” seemed to get to the rack with ease in the first half. He was the driving force of the Wildcats as they built a nine-point lead at halftime.
In the second half, it was once again all DiVincenzo. Whenever the Wildcats needed a bucket, No. 10 in white showed up with either a big three or a vicious attack of the basket. In addition, Villanova got back to basics on the defensive end. Whenever anyone was beaten off the dribble, help defense was already set up and it forced Michigan into tough shots all half long.
There were several moments in the half where it felt like the Wolverines were going to be able to claw back into the game. However, once Villanova launched their lead into double-digits, it never dipped below that mark. Even when Brunson picked up his fourth foul early in the half, DiVincenzo just continued to break the hearts of the Wolverines.
The sophomore finished the game with 31 points, the most ever by a bench player in the national championship, on 10-15 shooting from the field. At one point in the second half, he even scored 11 straight points for Villanova. Oh, and he also had two blocks.
The other leader for the Wildcats was Mikal Bridges. With Brunson sitting on the bench for the majority of the second half, Bridges showed up in a big way. He dropped in 15 of his 19 points in the second half while also using his long and athletic frame to disrupt Michigan’s offense.
This will forever go down as the “Donte DiVincenzo Game” but there is more to this national championship run than just this one game.
This title for Villanova was the culmination of a sensational season. There were without question one of the top teams in the nation all year long and their dominance in the NCAA Tournament was unbelievable. They won each and every one of their games by double-digits and was quite simply just the best team in the tournament.
Villanova’s hot shooting from three, underrated defensive play, and poise under pressure is what led them to their second title in the last three years. Jay Wright is truly building a college basketball dynasty right now and their run through the competition in this tournament was historic.
There were surprises at every turn in this tournament but the national champion was not one. The Wildcats were the best team throughout and it is only right that they were the ones to cut down the nets in San Antonio.