How to Watch:
Date: Thursday March 24th, 2022
Time: 7:29pm EST
Venue: AT&T Center - San Antonio, TX
TV: TBS (Brian Anderson, Jim Jackson & Allie LaForce)
Spread: MICH: +5 | NOVA: -5
Moneyline: MICH: +180 | NOVA -220
Total: 135 (-109)
via: Barstool Sportsbook
Michigan will be entering this contest collecting wins over Colorado State and Tennessee, while Villanova will be coming into this matchup with two wins over Delaware and Ohio State. This will be the sixth all-time meeting between these programs with Villanova currently holding a 3-2 advantage.
The Michigan Wolverines came into the tournament not having won back-to-back games since early February. That quickly changed with two impressive wins over higher seeded teams. Talent was never the issue for the Wolverines, in fact, they were picked sixth in the AP Top-25 preseason poll. Despite a disappointing season, this Michigan team never wavered and now they are looking to make some noise.
Michigan is undoubtedly led by their star sophomore Hunter Dickinson, who leads the team in points (18.7), rebounds (8.4), and field goal percentage (57.1%). Dickinson has notched twenty-point outings in each of the first two tournament games while shooting a blistering 90% from the charity stripe. At 7’1 Dickinson can score from the inside out and he will be sure to give this undersized Wildcats fits in the paint.
In addition to Dickinson, the Wolverines feature a trio of double-digit scorers in guards DeVante’ Jones (10.4), Eli Brooks (12.8) and freshman forward Caleb Houstan (10.2). Out of the three, the Wildcats will be most prepared for Pennsylvania native Eli Brooks. Brooks has averaged 17.4 points and 8.4 rebounds over his last five games. His combination of red-hot shooting and gritty ball pursuit has been giving teams fits over the last month and it will be no different on Thursday night.
For Michigan to advance to the Elite Eight, they are going to have to play their best game of the tournament thus far. Despite their recent success they are turning the ball over fifteen times per game on average and they have also allowed 65.5 points per game this tournament. Villanova is a team that capitalizes off of mistakes and the Wildcats are 21-3 when scoring over 65 points in a game this season. Michigan has the talent to pull off an upset and continue this incredible run, but their a-game will be required come Thursday night.
As for Villanova, the Wildcats will be coming into this game coming off of two straight double digit wins on the first weekend. The usual suspects, Collin Gillespie, Justin Moore, Jermaine Samuels and Brandon Slater have been nothing short of outstanding, but the players I wanted to highlight through the first two games are Eric Dixon and Caleb Daniels.
Eric Dixon hit the dagger that put Ohio State’s season to rest last week, but his auxiliary contributions have been far more impactful than his shooting. Dixon has quietly been averaging 12.5 points and 7 rebounds per game in the tournament thus far. At only six feet eight inches tall, those numbers against elite talent like EJ Liddell are extremely impressive from the redshirt sophomore.
In addition to Dixon’s timely production, Caleb Daniels continues to be the motor that keeps this well-oiled machine running. Daniels is the first player off the bench for Jay Wright’s Wildcats every single night and he does whatever it takes to win, whether that be shooting 60.0% from deep against Delaware or snagging eight boards against Ohio State, whatever the team needs him to do, he does.
Villanova is arguably playing their best basketball of the season, and it could not have come at a better time. Michigan is starting to look like their old self again, but it still may not be enough to top the run Villanova is going on currently. The Wildcats will come into this game victors of twelve of their last thirteen games and the combination of a red-hot Villanova team with their customary discipline is a scary sight for an eleven seed to see in March.
I am not ready for this to be Collin and Jermaine’s last game as Wildcats, and I do not think they are either. Give me the Wildcats in their usual fashion.
My Prediction: 76-69 Villanova