April 04, 2018
By: Steve Degler
Villanova has now won three NCAA men's basketball national titles. The first two were pretty miraculous outcomes. Not many people gave the Wildcats a chance in 1985 against Patrick Ewing and Georgetown. And Kris Jenkins three-pointer at the buzzer took down North Carolina two years ago. A pair of classic victories.
After a slow start Monday night in San Antonio, the Wildcats made it clear they would not need a miracle to take down the Michigan Wolverines. The biggest knock about Villanova lately is that it is a team that lacks size. Early on against Michigan, the play of Moritz Wagner had to make many think that this could be a bad match up.
Special kudos to Michigan's Muhammad-Ali Abdur-Rahkman who finished with a team-high 23 points in the championship game. The Allentown Central Catholic alum had a splendid career in Ann Arbor (1,313 points) and has the size and overall ability to be a fine pro player.
But after the first eight minutes, Michigan looked like a Muhammad Ali boxing opponent from the 1970's. They tired themselves out. It wasn't exactly a "rope-a-dope" tactic employed by Villanova but it certainly panned out. At the same time that Michigan ran out of gas, Villanova refilled and had a tankful.
A lot of people want to talk about head coach Jay Wright's expensive suits. The man always looks good. But here's the thing...he can really coach. There are always rumors about him bolting for the NBA. I hope it never happens. He actually brings the NBA to the Main Line. His teams spread the floor and shoot the three. They will play the "two-for-one" possession game at the end of the half. That's standard in the NBA but not in the NCAA. The more you have the ball, the better your chances.
The Wildcats had so many weapons and many will be back next year. And, very importantly, these two titles will immensely help Wright's recruiting (not that he needs much). It is widely expected that Mikal Bridges will leave for the NBA and that national player of the year Jalen Brunson might join him. If Brunson stays, he provides the perfect leader for what returns. And a lot returns. Phil Booth and Eric Paschall will be redshirt seniors. Championship game hero Donte DiVincenzo will be a junior and Omari Spellman, a true beast on the floor, just finished his first year on the court. Sprinkle in the incoming freshman (two four-stars and one five-star recruit) and you have another national title contender.