Dan Favale | Mon 02/04/2018 - 10:32 EDT

NCAAB Picks and Preview: 2018 National Championship Game

NCAAB Picks and Preview: 2018 National Championship Game
Sixty-eight teams started the NCAA's March Madness tournament. Now, as we've moved into April, only two remain: The Villanova Wildcats and Michigan Wolverines. These two programs will square off in Monday night's National Championship tilt coming off respective victories in the Final Four over the Kansas Jayhawks and Loyola Ramblers, respectively. Which squad should you invest your money before opening tip? As luck would have it, we're here to break down this matchup from every possible angle.

Game lines for the NCAA's National Championship matchup come courtesy of TopBet and are accurate leading into the morning of Monday, April 2. Although these odds are unlikely to move much, if at all, between now and the opening tip, definitely make sure to recheck them before submitting any wagers.

Ride 'Nova All The Way Home 


Villanova Wildcats (-6.5) vs. Michigan Wolverines (+6.5)

Moneylines: Villanova (-320); Michigan (+260)

Over/Under: 129.5

Michigan Wolverines fans are understandably amped up about this game. Yes, their team has clawed its way into the National Championship. That's inherently big-time. But the Wolverines haven't won a title since 1989, so they're capping off something of a drought.

The Villanova Wildcats, on the other hand, have been here before. They won the National Championship in 2016, not two seasons ago. Their program, as we've said before in this space, is among the closest the NCAA has come to a genuine dynasty in the one-and-done NBA draft era. And that's why, ultimately, we have to go with them on Monday night.

Don't get us wrong: Michigan has been good. Their win over the Loyola Ramblers was a borderline work of art in the Final Four. They trailed around halftime, but they were able to lock in, put the Ramblers' offense in its place and grind out the four-point victory. Their defense, which ranks 14th in the country in points allowed per 100 possessions, is for real.

But the Wolverines just don't have the offensive firepower to hang with the Wildcats. They're 44th in points scored per 100 possessions, which is objectively fine. It's just good enough when you're going up against the team that ranks first—especially when that top placement comes while making more three-pointers than any outfit in the nation.

That shot-value variance will be difficult for the Wolverines to make up. They're in the top 15 themselves of three-balls put through the net, but they don't hit them at nearly a high enough clip. 


Michigan also doesn't boast a true go-to, star-level scorer. Villanova, meanwhile, touts two: Mikal Bridges and Jalen Brunson. Even the best defenses in the country have a tough time going head to head with this group, because if they lock down one buckets-getter, there's another shot-maker they just won't have the personnel to account for.

Granted, there is a blueprint to derailing this offense's success on some level. Bridges prefers to fire off the catch and cuts. If the Wolverines can shut Brunson down, they'll have a puncher's chance at turning this into a slog-it-out affair that favors them.

Still, banking on that is tough. The Wildcats have failed to eclipse the 80-point threshold only once during this entire tournament. They just piled up 95 points in the Final Four on the Kansas Jayhawks, who entered the game defending pretty well. 

Most importantly: Villanova has won its games by an average of 13.7 points. Covering a 6.5-point spread against a team that doesn't have the raw offensive armory to go basket for basket shouldn't be that tall of a task. 

Surpassing the over/under feels similarly likely. The Wildcats have failed to hit the 146-point benchmark just once during this tournament, and they held opponents to under 60 points on both occasions. They won't do that do Michigan—or at least, they shouldn't. This game, in turns, feels like a clear over finisher.

The Picks

*All statistics come courtesy of Sports-Reference or FiveThirtyEight and are accurate leading into the morning of Monday, April 2.

Category : Sports Betting News

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