Michigan came in to Monday night’s NCAA tournament national championship game as the hottest team in America. It had won 13-straight games and dominated the vast majority of the time.
However, 13 proved to be an unlucky number for the Wolverines as they ran in to the buzzsaw known as the Villanova Wildcats and were downed 79-62 in front of a packed Alamodome crowd.
Just how dominate were the Wildcats? Their 17-point margin of victory was the largest for a national title game since Duke beat the very same Wolverines program by 20 points in 1992.
More than anything in this game Michigan ran straight in to the buzzsaw named Donte DiVincenzo. The Villanova reserve guard had himself a game of a lifetime, pouring in 31 points on 10 of 15 shooting from the field. That included him going 5 of 7 from beyond the arc and 6 of 10 from the free throw line.
Fellow Wildcats guard Mikal Bridges added 19 points and Villanova hit 10 three-pointers as a team in the win.
The Wolverines simply couldn’t execute its own gameplan for most of the night, going just 3 of 23 from beyond the arc and had an awful time of it in the second half especially.
Michigan had nearly as many made field goals as they did turnovers in the second half. As a result, Villanova was able to stretch a nine-point halftime lead in to a 20-point or more advantage for large parts of the second half.
Mo Wagner and Muhammad-Ali Abdur-Rahkman tried to keep the Wolverines in the game, going for 16 and 23 points respectively, but most of their damage was done in the first half.
With the loss, Michigan has now twice lost in the national championship game in the past decade. The loss also means the Big Ten continues an 18-year drought without a national title from any team in the conference.
Michigan State’s title win in 2000 still stands as the last time a B1G team cut down the nets as a national title winner.
It is also the seventh loss from a Big Ten conference team since the MSU win back in 2000. The Big Ten has seen a plethora of teams extend this drought too, as Illinois, Indiana, Michigan (twice), Michigan State, Ohio State and Wisconsin have all failed to bring home the national title in that time span.
Let’s just say the pain of losing on college basketball’s biggest stage isn’t a new feeling for teams from the Big Ten and even Michigan’s hot run to the title game wasn’t enough to stop the hottest shooting team in the whole tournament.