No. 1 Villanova vs. No. 3 Michigan: Predicting the 2018 National Champion

Villanova basketball

USA TODAY Sports Images

Jalen Brunson of Villanova during a college basketball game.

While Villanova looked unreal Saturday, I think this game goes down to the wire, and the Wildcats win in a classic final.

For the kids in maize and blue, they are on the other end this time.

Villanova whipped fellow No. 1 seeded Kansas in its Final Four game on Saturday night, while MI rallied to top Loyola-Chicago 69-57 in the other Final Four encounter.

On the flip side, Villanova's Omari Spellman and Eric Paschall can provide matchup problems for MI because they, too, can stretch the floor, but no one matches Wagner's motor.

MI is a 6.5-point underdog against a Villanova juggernaut whose closest game in the NCAA tournament was a 12-point win over Texas Tech.

Control the pace: Villanova can win both a fast and slow tempo game. The Wildcats then beat Maryland, North Carolina and Memphis State before their championship-clinching victory over Georgetown.

The Wildcats are 4-2 in games where they allowed 10 or more 3-pointers in a single game.

"That happens sometimes when you're a good-shooting team and when you start that way", Villanova coach Jay Wright said. The Wolverines are after their first title since 1989, hoping to grasp the trophy that slipped through coach John Beilein's fingers in 2013. In that second round game, the Wildcats prevailed in route to the program's first championship. But the fact that Loyola only scored 12 points in the last 12 minutes of the game was a huge part of the victory.

Villanova is no slouch defensively itself, but it's the Wildcats' offense that has been impressive throughout the season. Villanova is 25-0 this season when allowing 75 points or fewer.

On the other side of the court is MI, which made the title game thanks to John Beilein's analytic-based approach to defense.

More news: LeBron James surpasses Michael Jordan with 867 straight double-digit scores

The Boilermakers beat MI twice in January, going 23 for 41 from 3-point range. It's tough to know for sure, but Monday night's matchup serves as the ideal one to answer those questions.

Villanova and MI, prolific offense vs. stifling defense, a national title on the line, Monday night in San Antonio.

It all comes down to one game for the right to be called 2018 National Champions in college basketball. The Wolverines have been playing extremely well over the last month and a half. Having flown under the radar for much of the season, the Wolverines did not make an appearance in the AP Top 25 until the week of January 22. This year's NCAA Tournament included a historic upset as a No. 16 seed took down a No. 1 seed.

MI wasn't the only big preseason poll whiff: Virginia ended the regular season ranked No. 1, and the Cavaliers were also unranked to start the season.

Yaklich said Loyola was a good tuneup for preparing for Villanova.

The Wildcats set a Final Four record with 18 3-pointers against Kansas to get to the title game against MI on Monday night. This is largely a credit to guards Zavier Simpson and Muhammad-Ali Abdur-Rahkman.

The Wolverines have been effective at both against other teams this season.

Here's how to watch the 2018 National Championship game for free. MI will be better prepared to defend the 3 and keep this one close to the end.

This meeting on Monday night will come down to strength against strength.

The 2017-18 college basketball season is down to its final day, and only two teams are left standing: Villanova and MI.

The Wildcats set a Final Four record by hitting 18 longballs in their national semifinal thrashing of Kansas. But it's still a bit jarring to see a solid No. 3 seed like MI completely written off. During that stretch, the Wolverines have beaten teams like Michigan State, Ohio State, Purdue, Houston, Texas A&M, Florida State, Montana and Loyola.

Latest News