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Michigan vs. Villanova: Who has the edge

James Hawkins
The Detroit News
Michigan guard Jaaron Simmons reacts on the bench late in the second half Saturday night against Loyola.

James Hawkins of The Detroit News breaks down Monday’s national championship game between Michigan and Villanova (9:20 p.m., TBS/950).


Villanova junior Jalen Brunson, the national player of the year, heads the nation’s most efficient offensive attack and is only averaging a ho-hum 17.6 points and 4.4 assists while shooting 49.2 percent from the field (40.7 percent on 3-pointers) in the NCAA Tournament. Redshirt junior Phil Booth is one of six Wildcats averaging at least 10 points and when he’s in the starting lineup, Villanova is 28-1. Muhammad-Ali Abdur-Rahkman and Simpson will have their hands full trying to contain the two and can ill afford to have a repeat of Saturday night’s performance when they combined for seven points on 2-for-17 shooting. Edge: Villanova


Like Michigan, Villanova can space the floor and spread defenses thin with all its shooters. Redshirt junior wing Mikal Bridges, a projected top-10 pick, redshirt freshman forward Omari Spellman, and redshirt junior forward Eric Paschall are all averaging at least 12 points and shooting at least 44 percent from the field (42 percent from 3-point range) in the tournament. Freshman Isaiah Livers hasn’t been much of a factor on offense, but Charles Matthews continues to shine and has been the unsung hero for Michigan. Moritz Wagner will look to feed off one of the most impressive performances in a national semifinal game in some time. Edge: Villanova

More: Detroit News predictions: Michigan vs. Villanova

More: Michigan run makes Warde Manuel assess John Beilein’s deal


Villanova relies heavily on its experienced starting lineup, with the exception of redshirt sophomore guard Donte DiVincenzo, who is another vaunted deep threat. DiVincenzo is one of three Wildcats who has made at least 12 3-pointers and dished out 19 assists, but he’s also tied for a team-worst 11 turnovers in the tournament. Michigan has four players who can play 10-plus minutes and provide a spark in Jordan Poole, Duncan Robinson, Jon Teske and Jaaron Simmons. The Wolverines are also 29-0 when Robinson scores at least six points this season. Edge: Michigan


Villanova’s Jay Wright and Michigan’s John Beilein have both been here before. Wright captured a national championship with the Wildcats in 2016 and Beilein is looking to hoist the trophy after coming up short in 2013. Both teams have leaned on their strengths to get them to this point – Michigan on its stifling defense and Villanova on its explosive offense. However, Villanova’s defense is no slouch either and it has pivotal big-game experience with four Wildcats on the roster who played for the 2016 title team. Edge: Villanova