NCAA National Championship Betting Lines Preview and Picks
It almost feels too easy for Villanova. Against Kansas, the Wildcats tied a Final Four record for three-pointers made — in the first half alone! The 13 trey-balls before intermission were more than attempted two-pointers (7) and free throws (0). By the end of its 16-point win, Villanova shattered the all-time mark for made triples in a season at 454 (and counting).
The Wildcats have been favored in all 39 of its games this year. The trend will continue in game 40 against Michigan, which enter as the largest underdogs in an NCAA Final since 2010.
The Wolverine’s weren’t nearly as impressive, rallying from a 10-point deficit in the second half to end Loyola-Chicago’s cinderella story. But it’s 12-point victory marked its 11th double-digit win during its current 14-game winning streak, which is no fluke.
No doubt about it, this is a fitting national title game between two deserving teams. Here’s our matchup preview, with odds coming courtesy of BetOnline!
Over/under 145 points: No. 3 Michigan vs. No. 1 Villanova (-6.5)
An untouchable offense vs. an unbreakable defense — that’s the biggest plot entering Monday’s showdown.
When Villanova is on, which is most of the time, they’re practically unbeatable. Gloss over its offensive numbers and it becomes abundantly clear they can score at any and all angles. The Wildcats rank 14th in three-point shooting percentage, third in two-point shooting percentage, and ninth in free-throw shooting percentage.
Nonetheless, deep balls are the method to its madness. Stunningly, 48 percent of Villanova’s shot attempts are from beyond the arc. No rotational player shoots under 36 percent from downtown so it’s a collective effort here.
Priority number one for Michigan is to slow down the three-ball, which they are more than equipped to do. On the season, Wolverine opponents are hitting an abysmal 32.7 percent of shots from beyond the arc.
However, what’s actually more crucial to Wolverine’s success is preventing three-point shots altogether. Lets face it, it’s not a smart gameplan to hope for an off shooting night by Villanova. That’s just not going to happen very often, but you can’t let them fire 40 three-pointers like Kansas did.
Michigan is an aggressive perimeter-defending team, rating fifth nationally in its adversaries three-point attempt rate (29.8 percent). To have any chance at winning, they need to force the Wildcats to beat them with two-point jumpers instead of deep balls.
Another way to temper Villanova’s attack: limit its offensive possessions. Thankfully for them, the Wolverines thrive at slowing the pace. Among 351 Division I teams, Michigan rates 324th in KenPom’s adjusted tempo index. The fewer opportunities for the Wildcat’s prolific offense, the better for Big Blue.
No matter how well Michigan plays on defense or slows down the pace, they’ll still need to get buckets. You can’t stop Villanova completely after all. Loyola’s switch defense frustrated Michigan throughout Saturday’s game, a tactic the Wildcats love to utilize with its versatile defenders.
Mo Wagner is the key cog for the Wolverine’s offense. The 6-foot-11 stretch-five was a matchup nightmare for the undersized Ramblers, going off for 24 points and 15 rebounds. He draws a tough matchup against Omari Spellman, though. Both bigs are carbon copies of another, which likely cancels out Wagner’s effectiveness.
There is no equalizer for Villanova’s Jalen Brunson, however. With a gaudy season stat line of 19.2 points, 3.1 rebounds, and 4.7 assists per game, the junior was just named Naismith Player of the Year. Zavier Simpson draws the opposing matchup against Brunson, and while Simpson has cooled some of the better point guards in the nation, Brunson is a completely different animal.
Matter of fact, when it’s all said and done, we might be saying this Villanova team was one of the best in college history. Behind an offensive efficiency that’s second-best since at least 2002, the Wildcats’ average margin of victory during the NCAA Tournament is an eye-popping 17.8 points per game. One more blowout win and the history books will remember Villanova fondly.
We don’t think for a second Michigan will beat Villanova on Monday. Covering the spread is another matter, however. The Wolverine’s suffocating defense and snail-pace is the perfect match for the Wildcats explosiveness.
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