It was a good run by Michigan to the national title game, but John Beilein's squad ran out of gas after a hot start, falling to Villanova in the National Championship Game 79-62 on Monday night in San Antonio.
Counting the vacated Final Four teams of 1992 and 1993, it's the the Wolverines fourth straight loss in the championship game.
Donte DiVincenzo put Villanova on his shoulders after Michigan got out to a 21-14 lead, scoring 18 in the first half and showing no chill in the second half as he finished with a game-high 31.
Moe Wagner was big early, scoring 11 in the game's first five minutes, but the Wildcats defense shut the big man down for the game's final 30 minutes. He finished with 16. Muhammad-Ali Abdur-Rahkman, in his final game at Michigan, finished with a team-high 23.
Naismith Award winner Jalen Brunson wasn't his usual self, scoring nine, but he didn't have to be given DiVincenzo's historic performance.
Michigan's offense finished 3-for-23 from beyond the arc, and it didn't help that Duncan Robinson only played three first half minutes thanks to foul trouble. A senior, Robinson was held scoreless in his finale for the Wolverines.
Some will say that Michigan was exposed by Villanova, as the Wolverines didn't play anyone higher than an 11-seed prior to their showdown with the Wildcats. I'm here to tell you that that's a flawed way of thinking. There were teams choking left and right in this tournament, and Michigan wasn't one of them. They played their butts off and got further than anyone would have figured they would have less than two months ago.
Michigan can't catch 'Nova
Zavier Simpson and Muhammad-Ali Abdur-Rahkman each hit a pair of free throws to cut the Villanova lead to 14, but Duncan Robinson picked up another foul on the other end, allowing Donte DiVincenzo to push the difference back to 16 with a pair of free throws. The Wolverines picked up two more free throws and a steal, but Jordan Poole's out of control drive to the bucket resulted in a Mikal Bridges 3-pointer for Villanova on the other end.
It doesn't look like Michigan has much left to give, trailing the Wildcats 67-50 with 5:37 remaining.
DiVincenzo can't stop, won't stop
Jalen Brunson picked up his fourth foul and had to take a seat on the bench. Zavier Simpson hit a pair of free throws, and after 'Nova split a pair from the charity stripe on the other end, Simpson couldn't hit an open 3-pointer on the other end. Donte DiVincenzo got to the bucket to push the Wildcats lead back to 16, but Moe Wagner answered with a dunk for the Wolverines. Charles Matthews made a huge steal and converted on the break to cut the 'Nova lead back to 12, but DiVincenzo hit a cold-blooded 3-pointer to push it back to 15. After a Matthews miss, DiVincenzo hit again. He's got 27 points.
At the 7:48 mark, Michigan is trailing 62-44.
Wolverines can't find any offense
Michigan put together another ugly offensive possession, and Villanova made them pay for it with a 3-pointer on the other end that stretched the Wildcats lead to 18. Duncan Robinson has taken a trio of 3-point attempts to start the second half, but he's come up empty every time. Muhammad-Ali Abdur-Rahkman livened things up a bit with a step-back 3-pointer, but Mikal Bridges got the hole and finished for Villanova. Charles Matthews missed a pair of free throws, but after Michigan got a stop, he was able to come back with a thunderous dunk.
With 11:58 remaining, Villanova leads 53-38.
Michigan running out of answers
Zavier Simpson hit a tough shot in the paint after Michigan called a timeout to try and stop the bleeding of a 7-0 Villanova run. Jalen Brunson powered his way to the basket to provide the Wildcats' answer. The one positive for Michigan is that 'Nova has been called for four fouls in the half's first three minutes. Moe Wagner split a pair when he went to the line. A foul on Charles Matthews off a missed shot gave the Wildcats an extra possession, which they capitalized on.
At the 15:24 mark, Villanova leads 48-33.
'Nova blitzes UM to start 2nd half
Moe Wagner got the second half started with another bucket in the paint. An offensive rebound allowed Villanova to get a bucket on their first possession, and after an offensive foul on Michigan, Eric Pachall hit a 3-pointer to push the Wildcats lead to 12. Duncan Robinson missed his first attempt of the night, and 'Nova got a bucket on the other end to make it 44-30 with 18:09 remaining.
DiVincenzo, Nova take lead into halftime
Donte DiVincenzo has been the story of the first half off the bench for the Wildcats, going for a game-high 18 points in the first half and carrying Villanova to a 37-28 halftime lead.
'Nova hasn't shot the lights out from beyond the arc like they did against Kansas on Saturday night, starting 1-for-8 and finishing 4-for-13 in the first half, but DiVincenzo has been the great equalizer by going 3-for-4.
Moe Wagner (11 points) has played big for Michigan, but he's going to need some help. The Wolverines got into a bit of foul trouble in the first half, as Duncan Robinson saw limited action after picking up a pair.
Muhammad-Ali Abdur-Rahkman has found an offensive rhythm, going for 10. In order for Michigan to wi this game, Wagner will need at least two teammates to step up on the offensive end in the second half. Charles Matthews, who's been the Wolverines best player in this tournament, has just two points.
DiVincenzo carries 'Nova into lead
Donte DiVincenzo spotted Villanova its first lead with his second 3-pointer, but Muhammad-Ali Abdur-Rahkman evened things up on a drive to the bucket. Omari Spellman hit a pair of free throws to put 'Nova back out in front, Abdur-Rahkman split a pair on the other end. DiVincenzo was feeling it when he jacked up another from beyond the arc to push the Wildcats lead back to four, but Zavier Simpson calmed things down with a runner in the lane for the Wolverines. But DiVincenzo has been a bull, answering with an and-1 on the other end. He's got a game-high 16.
At the 3:59 mark, Villanova has a 30-26 lead.
Michigan heading for foul trouble
Despite Villanova getting a couple extra shots at the basket thanks to a couple of sketchy calls that sent Duncan Robinson to the bench with two fouls, Michigan kept getting stops, and Moe Wagner slipped to the basket on the other end and finished at the rim (again!) to push the Wolverines lead to seven. Fouls are something to watch right now, as Jalen Brunson is doing his best to win an Academy Award for best actor. Michigan has seven team fouls, but Robinson is the only one with a pair.
At the 7:32 mark, the Wolverines lead 21-18.
The guards trade jabs in first half
Muhammad-Ali Abdur-Rahkman came out of the first timeout and hit a 3-pointer, a possession Michigan got after a Charles Matthews steal on the other end. After 'Nova started 0-for-4 from beyond the arc, Donte Divincenzo hit from beyond the arc from the Wildcats. Abdur-Rahkman and Divincenzo traded buckets again, with 'Nova's sixth-man getting a 3-point play. Jordan Poole answered with a bucket and a foul of his own on the other end, and he'll shoot the free throw out of the next timeout.
At the 11:51 mark, the Wolverines lead 18-14.
Wagner carries Michigan early on
Jalen Brunson set the tone for Villanova by backing down Zavier Simpson and hitting from the paint. Moe Wagner answered with a nice move to get around his defender in the paint and finish at the basket. Brunson hit a short jumper to make it 4-2, but Wagner came back and drew foul, knocking down both free throws to even things back up. Muhammad-Ali Abdur Rahkman got a steal on the other end and finished on the break to spot Michigan's its first lead. After a 'Nova miss, Charles Matthews continued the aggressive start to the game, getting to the bucket and drawing the foul, but he was unable to convert either of his two tries. Matthews made up for it with a rejection of Brunson on the other end. After 'Nova missed a 3-pointer (shocker, I know), Wagner hit one for Michigan. After another 'Nova bucket, Wagner (9 points) got to the basket again and finished at the rim.
With 14:45 remaining in the first half, Michigan leads 11-8.
Michigan, 'Nova set for championship battle
The way people have been talking about the Wolverines since Saturday, you'd think John Beilein's squad didn't have a prayer to compete with Villanova in tonight's National Championship Game.
Installed as a 6.5-point favorite, the Wildcats shot the lights out against Kansas in the second national semifinal on Saturday night, hitting a ridiculous 18 from beyond the arc.
Here's the thing, though: Michigan excels in shutting down the opposition on the perimeter. So, tonight, it's strength on strength.
The Wolverines will need their defenders to be locked in from the get-go. The premiere matchup of the night will be Zavier Simpson guarding First-Team All-American Jalen Brunson, who has shown an uncanny amount of ways he can hurt opposing defenses. Not only can Brunson stoke it from 3-point land (like all of the other 'Nova starters on the floor), he can post up his man in the paint and go to work like a 6'2" center. It really is going to be Simpson's biggest challenge of the year.
On offense, Michigan's going to need the Moe Wagner that showed up against Loyola to show up here again tonight. Wagner had what many are calling the best game of his career, going for 24 points and a career-high 15 rebounds. If he's locked in tonight, the Wolverines have a chance.
Wagner won't be able to do it alone, however. Charles Matthews will have to continue his tournament tear, and Duncan Robinson will have to knock down a couple of timely 3-pointers. But the x-factor could be the play of Michigan's backcourt on offense. Simpson can't be expected to have a big offensive game when he's expending all of his energy guarding Brunson, so it falls on senior Muhammad-Ali Abdur-Rahkman. If he can make the Villanova defense respect his game by scoring a bit, Michigan becomes that much more dangerous.
Tip-off from San Antonio is at 9:20. Follow Geoff Robinson for live updates of all of tonight's action.
MICHIGAN VS. VILLANOVA
Tip-off: 9:20 p.m. Monday, Alamodome, San Antonio
Records: No. 3 seed Michigan 33-7; No. 1 seed Villanova 35-4