Michigan is good, but not good enough.
For those still-pouting Carolina fans who think, had they just beaten Texas A&M, the Tar Heels would be playing tonight in their third straight Final Four and for their second consecutive national championship… I think you might be right.
The bracket sure opened up that way, if Carolina hadn’t shot itself in the foot and out of the game against the Aggies two weeks ago in Charlotte. A&M was just awful against a Michigan team the Tar Heels had beaten soundly back in November. If they could have done that again, they surely would have handled Florida State and had 11th-seeded Cinderella Loyola of Chicago.
Yes, it might very well have happened that way. But I have two bits of bad news for you: First, teams don’t survive games like Carolina played – and don’t deserve to win in a one-and-done tournament when they don’t deserve to win. Second, nobody is beating Villanova tonight. Nobody.
Going after its second NCAA title in three years – we certainly recall that first one, don’t we – Villanova may have the best team it has ever had, including Rollie Massimino’s Miracle of 1985 and Howard Porter’s Final Four club in ’71.
Jay Wright is one great coach, who has consistently put a top ten team on the court in recent years. Remember, Nova was a No. 1 seed last year before getting knocked out by eighth-seed Wisconsin in the second round. This season’s team hasn’t had a close game in the Dance, unless you consider 12-point regional wins over West Virginia and Texas Tech close games.
Villanova has six guys in double figures, led by national player of the year Jalen Brunson, who averages 19-plus a game, but does so much more than score. These guys are equally tough on both ends of the court, and Michigan may be well-coached but doesn’t have enough scoring to continue what has become a dream season for the Wolverines of the Big Ten.
Wright’s team is so tenacious that it just finds a way to win. And experienced with only one freshman – Omari Spellman – in its top six. You can tell how well they play together on offense and talk on defense. And it’s a team on a mission to uphold its recent tradition.
So the Tar Heels might have well been there without that one bad game. But although we all would have liked to see it, nobody is beating Villanova. Nobody.