The (#7) University of Michigan men’s basketball team played in the National Championship game in the NCAA Tournament yesterday, and they lost it. On Monday (04/02/2018), they lost to Villanova, 79-62, in San Antonio, Texas. The loss leaves Michigan with a final record of 33-8 (13-5 in the Big Ten).
Just like the semifinal game vs. Loyola-Chicago, this game was 75% nightmare, 25% sweet dream. Unfortunately, the good part came at the beginning, and the bad part came at the end, when it counts. Michigan controlled the game early, and led 21-14 at the 10:59 mark in the 1st half. From that point on, it was all Villanova. Still, Michigan was within 2 points (30-28) with 3:34 left. Villanova went on a 7-0 run to end the half, and that was the game. Every time UM got close in the 2nd half, Villanova would pour in another long 3-pointer to pull away again. Once they got a double-digit lead, Michigan never got it back down to single digits.
Villanova was definitely the better team, but that doesn’t mean that Michigan couldn’t have beaten them, In order to win, they needed one of the following things to happen:
- Someone from Michigan needed to have a career night. Nope.
- Michigan needed to shoot “lights out” from 3-point range. Nope.
- Villanova needed to have an “off” night. Nope.
- Michigan needed to control the tempo of the game for 40 minutes. Nope.
Once things got away, just before halftime, Michigan couldn’t put the genie back in the bottle.
The stats for the game are pretty sad. Michigan shot decently overall (24-for-55 = 43.6%), but they couldn’t hit a 3-pointer to save their lives (3-for-23 = 13.0%). They also were lousy from the free throw line (11-for-18 = 61.1%), and they got crushed on the boards (38-27). They did win the turnover battle (10-12), but that was the only stat they won. Villanova shot 37.0% (10-for-27) from 3-point range. There’s the game right there.
Who Looked Good
MAAR was Michigan’s leader in his final game as a Wolverine. He scored 23 points, but that’s all he did. He had 1 rebound, 0 assists, 0 blocked shots, 0 steals, and 0 turnovers.
Wagner also had a good game in what might be his final appearance for Michigan. He had 16 points and 7 rebounds. He also had 4 fouls and 4 turnovers.
Simpson had a decent game, with 10 points and 2 assists. He also had 3 turnovers.
Who Looked Not-So-Good
Livers played 20 minutes, but failed to score, on 2 shots.
Matthews had a rough game, with 6 points on 9 shots. He fouled out.
Duncan Robinson had a miserable game in his final appearance for Michigan. He missed all 3 of his shots (all 3-point attempts), and failed to score.
Jon Teske had another rough game. He did score 2 points, but he only played 7 minutes.
Who Else Played
Jordan Poole chipped in 3 points off the bench.
Jaaron Simmons only played 3 minutes in his final game for Michigan. He failed to score.
Ibi Watson played in the final minute, and scored 2 points.
Who Didn’t Play
The Big Picture
While Michigan came up short (again) in the National Championship game, the season was still a great success. The loss will sting for a while, but once it fades, we’ll remember this as a very good season.
The season is over.
Check back next week for a season wrap-up, final grades, and a look ahead to next season. Spoiler alert: Michigan is going to be VERY good next season, even better than this season.