The Villanova Wildcats won their second national championship title in three years this Monday night, dominating Michigan for most of the game on their way to a 79-62 victory.
This year’s championship game capped a quietly dominant season from Villanova. The Wildcats had not lost a game by single-digits since February of this season, and finished the season 36-4, with none of their four losses coming by more than eight points. They also ended up being only the fourth team to win all of its N.C.A.A. tournament games this year by double digits.
Villanova started the game off slowly, with Michigan coming out strong from the opening tip and jumping out to a 21-14 lead. However, this hot start didn’t matter in the end. Villanova answered with a 30-9 run of their own spanning parts of both halves.
The Wildcats’ three-pointers weren’t falling early, which could have discouraged a team that had just won a Final Four game over fellow number one seed Kansas by hitting a Final Four record 18 of 40 shots from downtown. However, Villanova got to the rim early, hit free throws, and got baskets in transition. After that, the three-pointers started falling again, just like they did in the 95-79 victory over the Jayhawks.
Jalen Brunson, who was the AP National Player of the Year, as well as the recipient of the Naismith Award, struggled for most of the game after scoring Villanova’s first four points. Luckily for Villanova, Donte DiVincenzo chose this night to have one of the most impressive and standout performances of the N.C.A.A. tournament. He came off of the bench as Villanova’s sixth man to score 31 points, including 18 in the first half when Villanova couldn’t get anything else going offensively. Likely lottery pick Mikal Bridges poured on some points of his own when he found his shot in the second half, making multiple three-pointers late in the game to sustain Villanova’s run.
DiVincenzo’s crazy night included five three-pointers on seven attempts, as well as a nine-point run spurring Villanova on midway through the second half and ultimately burying the fighting Wolverines. DiVincenzo’s 10-for-15 shooting night (5 for 7 from 3) made him only the third player since 1985 to have 31 or more points in a National Championship game. He was no-doubt a winner of the Final Four’s most-outstanding-player award.
The victory caps a dominant five-year run for the Wildcats. In this span of time, they have won two national championships, four Big East titles, accumulated one-hundred and sixty-five wins, and captured three one-seeds and five top-two seeds. With this second, dominant title-run, they are now in the discussion of being the best program in basketball right now.
On ESPN’s Way-Too-Early Top 25 for 2018-19, Villanova is predicted to be a title-contender once again, coming in at number three on the preseason ranking, behind only the Kansas Jayhawks and the Duke Blue Devils, two storied programs with iconic pasts. Regardless of what next season’s outcome is, Villanova head coach Jay Wright has solidified his place as an elite college basketball head coach and in Villanova’s program as a leader in the extremely competitive college basketball world.