April 03, 2018
For the second time in the last three years, Villanova is cutting down the nets after beating Michigan, 79-62, to win the national championship.
Behind a career-high 31 points from Donte DiVincenzo, who was named the Final Four's Most Outstanding Player, the Wildcats (36-4) completed one of the most dominant NCAA Tournament runs of all time, winning each of their six games by 12 or more points and finishing with an average margin of victory of nearly 18 points. They also became the first team since UCLA in 1968 to win each of its Final Four games by 16-plus points.
But it wasn't always looking like an easy win for Villanova.
Facing a seven-point deficit midway through the first half, Jay Wright's team turned the tides thanks to lights-out shooting from DiVincenzo, who scored 18 of his team's 37 first-half points, and were able to take a nine-point lead into the break. They'd built that lead in the early moments of the second-half, going up by 18 points with just over five minutes gone by.
Thanks to that comfortable lead – and DiVincenzo's continued dominance off the bench – Villanova was able to hold off the Wolverines' late surge despite foul trouble that kept Naismith Award-winner Jalen Brunson on the bench for large chunks down the stretch. Mikal Bridges, who along with Brunson is likely headed to the NBA next year, added 19 for the Wildcats on 7-of-12 shooting.
But this one was all about DiVincenzo, whose 31 points came on just 15 field goal attempts. The 6-foot-5 sophomore from Delaware finished 10-of-15, including 5-of-7 from three.
With the win, Villanova joins Duke, Kentucky and Florida as the only programs since 1975 to win two titles in a three-year span. More impressive is the fact that the Wildcats have now gone five straight seasons without losing back-to-back games and are 165-21 over that span.
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