Michigan head coach John Beilin could do nothing but watch as his team was dismantled 79–62 by Villanova and sixth man Donte DeVincenzo who exploded for 31 points on an efficient 10–15 shooting off the bench. He propelled the Wildcats to a nine-point halftime lead, scoring 18 in the first half.
Michigan came into the Alamodome in San Antonio as perhaps one of the least tested teams to play in a final. Because of this year’s crazy March Madness, their road to the championship did not include a matchup against a teamed ranked in the top-five seeds. That is nothing against the Wolverines. They beat whoever was placed in front of them. Besides a thriller against a scrappy Houston and a defensive clinic to top a rebounding machine Florida State Seminoles, Michigan handled their business.
The Wolverines’ loss to the Wildcats points to how much of a juggernaut Villanova truly is and the brilliance of bench boss Jay Wright. They carved through this tournament like a good steak. They won every game by at least 12 and envisioned hoisting up the trophy the whole way. Michigan just could not match the offensive weapons that Villanova threw at them. They held AP Player of the Year Jalen Brunson in check, limiting him to nine points and forcing him to take and miss tough shots around the basket.
It was DeVincenzo, who last started on February 28, not Mikal Bridges, carrying the offensive load. Coach Wright shuffled him in and out of the starting lineup throughout the season. If he was nervous, he sure did not show it. He played with confidence, calling isolation plays for himself knocking down three-pointers, five of them to be exact, to blow the game wide open.
Something must be said about Jay Wright. He doesn’t get the same credit, nor does he deserve it, as Duke’s Mike Krzyzewski, North Carolina’s Roy Williams or Syracuse’s Jim Boeheim. But his work to bring Villanova into national prominence and two national titles in three years to Philadelphia is extremely impressive.
College basketball is one of the most volatile sports out there, but the level of consistency that Jay Wright and the Villanova program have showed is second to none. He now has more national championships than Boeheim, Tom Izzo of Michigan State and Kansas’ Bill Self. Their 136 wins in the past four seasons is an NCAA record for most in a four-year span. They surpassed the 1998–2001 Duke squads that had players such as Elton Brand, Corey Maggette, Carlos Boozer, Shane Battier and Mike Dunleavy Jr.
What’s so spectacular about these recent Villanova teams is the lack of “superstar” talent. The Wildcats aren’t producing high draft picks. In fact, Villanova hasn’t had a former player get drafted in the lottery in its incredible four-year run. Kyle Lowry of the Toronto Raptors and Paul Azirin from the 1950s are probably the most notable Wildcat alums.
Villanova will most likely lose Brunson and probable lottery selection Mikal Bridges to the NBA Draft. DeVincenzo could also conceivably enter his name without an agent, test the waters at next month’s Draft Combine, and decide whether to continue in the process or return to college for his redshirt junior season and call the team his own.
Whatever decision these two-time champs make, Villanova will be in good hands. Winning always does wonders for a program. This title run showed that anything is possible with Coach Wright manning the sidelines.
A new, albeit familiar, champion was crowned in San Antonio Monday night. The Villanova Wildcats withstood the storm of the craziest March Madness in history to stand tall as the new royalty of the college basketball world. So, to all the Villanova players, staff, students, faculty and anyone who claims allegiance to the Wildcats, enjoy this national championship because you truly deserved it.