After following the 24-hour rule for decision making, I am now ready to calmly dissect Monday’s disappointing National Championship game that wrapped up Michigan’s overwhelmingly successful season.
Maybe it’s because of the constant misfortune I have endured as a Michigan and Detroit sports fan. Maybe it’s because the run to the title game was so unexpected considering the prospects heading into the season. Or maybe it’s because I was able to come to grips with the loss much sooner than I would have hoped due to the score. Either way, I find it difficult to find any negatives to this season despite the 17-point loss.
After all, if you thought Michigan was going to play for a National Championship headed into the season you are probably the first, and I will let you pick my next lotto numbers.
There are two sides to the coin of single elimination tournament basketball — it is one game, and the unexpected can happen from both teams. On a night where Michigan failed to bring it’s A game offensively, they ran into a buzz saw named Donte DiVincenzo who wasn’t short on confidence pouring in 31 points off their bench. For those keeping track at home, that would be the ‘unexpected‘ I was referring to.
For Michigan to win Monday night, I felt they needed to essentially match Villanova from three point range at around 10 makes, and force National player of the year, Jalen Brunson to be uncomfortable. When the dust settled, Michigan checked off two of the three boxes (Brunson had just 9 points and Nova made 10 threes), but Michigan shot an abysmal 3 of 23 from three point range.
As crazy as it sounds after getting routed by 17 points, Michigan is capable of beating Villanova… just not on a night where their shooting woes (22.7% from three on the tournament minus the Texas A&M game) continued and an opposing sixth man goes for 31. With less than 48 hours to prepare, I would assume DiVincenzo was around the fourth guy down on Beilein’s scouting report to focus on. You have to credit Jay Wright for riding the hot hand though and putting him in a position to thrive on the big stage.
I can already hear the critics saying this lopsided loss somehow devalues Michigan’s run to the title game or means they didn’t belong. This is a lazy opinion by rival fan bases and media outlets digging for any solace in Wolverine success. News Flash, you don’t mess around and win 14 games in a row dating back to February 6th on accident. You do it because a blueprint was developed over the season transforming Michigan into a top-10 team that certainly belonged on the big stage Monday night.
Next year’s team will be without MAAR, Robinson, and likely Moe Wagner. You can’t understate the value of those players, and it almost feels disrespectful to them and this season to look ahead to next year. With Beilein at the helm though, and a highly rated group of incoming Freshmen, Michigan shouldn’t skip a beat.