Monday, 15 October, 2018

Villanova dominates Kansas, 95-79, advances to title game

Mikal Bridges will lead the Villanova Wildcats against Kansas in the NCAA Tournament Final Four Mikal Bridges will lead the Villanova Wildcats against Kansas in the NCAA Tournament Final Four
Charlie Simmons | 03 April, 2018, 05:01

But Michigan's run to the national championship was its own underdog story.

Coach Jay Wright's team set NCAA single-season (454) and NCAA Tournament records (66) for 3-pointers while making a Final Four game-record 18 in the semifinal win over Kansas. MI ended the Cinderella run of Loyola Chicago 69-57 in the earlier Final Four matchup. MI pulled away late to be beat Loyola 69-57, and then the Wildcats blew out the Jayhawks 95-79 in a game that was never close. The Wildcats have won two titles in 1985 and 2016, while falling in 1971, so this will be their fourth appearance.

Michigan, in the national championship game for the first time since 2013, likely won't be favored heading into Monday night, but the Wolverines do have momentum.

Loyola (32-6) had aimed to make history by becoming the lowest seed to win an NCAA men's basketball championship. They were down by 10 points in the second half with 14:10 left at 41-31 and down five with 7:45 left.

KANSAS (31-8): Azubuike 4-6 0-0 8, Newman 6-14 7-8 21, Graham 9-18 1-2 23, Vick 4-7 0-0 8, Mykhailiuk 2-8 5-6 10, Lightfoot 0-0 0-0 0, Sosinski 1-1 0-0 2, De Sousa 2-4 3-4 7, Young 0-0 0-0 0, Teahan 0-0 0-0 0, Garrett 0-4 0-0 0, Cunliffe 0-0 0-0 0.

Brunson has averaged 19.1 points and 4.8 assists this season and is shooting 52.7 percent. The Jayhawks didn't make a lot of errors, and they didn't shoot poorly from the field either.

Wagner might not put up 24 points and 15 rebounds again Monday, but if he reaches somewhere around 20 points and 10 rebounds, the Wolverines should be in good shape.

Bill Self's exasperated and nearly helpless reactions said everything about why Kansas' latest Final Four trip would last only one game. "I kept looking possession by possession, we had trouble scoring the first half", Wagner noted. They can win with shooting. "They're a great team, we just made every shot".

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MI was led Moritz Wagner's 24 points and 15 rebounds.

Kansas was just unable to keep up with Villanova's offense. The Wildcats were going to play like an National Basketball Association team, spacing the Jayhawks out and letting it fly from three. By then, it was over.

Villanova literally shot the lights out by the second half, when some scoreboards and upper-level lights went out for a few minutes and darkened the upper decks.

It wasn't just that Villanova tied the previous Final Four record of 13 three-pointers - before halftime.

The teams have played three times previously, with Villanova holding a 2-1 edge. On the year, the Wildcats were 14th nationally from behind the three-point arc, and almost 40 percent of the points they scored on the year came from downtown, so it wasn't a surprise that they would try to connect on triples. They took 33 shots in the first half, 26 of which were three-point attempts. "We scored 22 points and that was kind of the only way we found our way to the basket, grab offensive rebounds and get second-shot opportunities".

Villanova has not really been tested in the NCAA Tournament. The Wolverines have won only one, beating Seton Hall in overtime in 1989. They did have an overtime win against Providence by 10 on March 10 in the Big East title game. In short, Texas Tech held Villanova as close to in check as is realistically possible-and still lost by 12. MI is in its seventh national title game.

Michigan's win over Loyola-Chicago and Villanova's defeat of Kansas aired on TBS as well as TNT and truTV, which carried team-specific telecasts.

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