March Madness Betting Guide: National Championship
The National Championship matchup is set -- with the Big East's Villanova Wildcats facing off against the Michigan Wolverines out of the Big Ten. Both teams have reached this point with impressive winning streaks dating back to the regular season, but only one can extended their streak and cut down the nets on Monday.
Villanova has looked especially impressive in the tournament, but this team has been on fire for essentially the entire season. The Wildcats lead the nation in scoring average and offensive rating, while ranking 5th in field goal percentage and 11th in three point shooting percentage. Offensively, they are so tough to guard because they can spread the floor with all five players when Omari Spellman is on the court -- allowing them to get into an empty paint and dish it out to open shooters once the defense collapses.
On Saturday against Kansas, VIllanova put on a clinic -- setting a record for most threes in a Final Four game (18) and eclipsing the record for most three pointers made in a season with 454. Although they are lethal from three, VIllanova is not just a three-point shooting team that can be doomed if they're run off the three-point line, because they actually shoot relatively better inside the arc -- ranking third in the nation at 59 percent on two-pointers.
The Wildcats do not just rely on bludgeoning opponents on the offensive end -- ranking 14th in Kenpom's adjusted defensive efficiency. They have stepped up their efforts of late, holding opponents to 61 points or less three times in their last five games and allowing just 0.97 points per possession in that span, a mark which pales in comparison to the 1.23 points per possession 'Nova has averaged offensively during that same stretch.
Now the Wildcats face a Michigan team that ranks third in defense, per Kenpom, and is riding a 14-game winning streak that spans the last two months. The Wolverines have flexed their defensive muscle in the tournament -- allowing 58.6 points per game, which is 4.0 points below their season-long average that already ranks eighth in the nation.
While Michigan is not a dynamic offensive team, they have several guys who can take over a game and look unstoppable, which is the way that big man Moritz Wagner looked against Loyola Chicago. In the semifinal win over the Ramblers, Wagner dropped an efficient 24 points on 10-for-16 shooting and corralled a career-best 15 rebounds. Every game in the Big Dance, somebody different has taken over the workload offensively -- whether it be Charles Matthews against Montana and Florida State or Muhammad-Ali Abdur Rahkman against Texas A&M (although the whole team was on fire in the first half of that one), this Michigan team has guys who are capable of filling it up.
Now that we are more familiar with the teams, let's see who our models like in the 2018 Men's College Basketball National Championship.
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