National Championship Preview: Villanova vs Michigan – 3 Keys To Watch For

By Doug Brotherton

The 2018 National Championship game between Villanova and Michigan will be decided by three key areas, as Doug Brotherton explains.

It is the best Monday of the year! Tonight is the NCAA Men’s Basketball National Championship, featuring the Villanova Wildcats and the Michigan Wolverines. Villanova is the clear favorite, with an average margin of victory of over 17 points per game. Michigan, on the other hand, needed a desperation three to advance to the Sweet 16. The Wolverines have leaned on their defensive prowess, allowing only 58.6 points per game during their tournament run.

This match-up is a battle of opposing strengths. Villanova features one of the best offensive attacks in college basketball history, but Michigan has not allowed any opponent to score over 75 points since January. Below are three keys to the big game.

March 25, 2018 - Boston, MA, U.S. - BOSTON, MA - MARCH 25: Villanova guard Donte DiVincenzo (10) congratulates Villanova forward Omari Spellman (14) after a shot during an Elite Eight matchup between the Villanova Wildcats and the Texas Tech Red Raiders on March 25, 2018, at TD Garden in Boston, Massachusetts. The Wildcats defeated the Red Raiders 71-59. (Photo by Fred Kfoury III/Icon Sportswire) (Credit Image: © Fred Kfoury Iii/Icon SMI via ZUMA Press)


The Wildcats are shattering three-point shooting records throughout their dominant tournament run. Villanova takes almost half of its shots (47% of FG attempts) from behind the arc. To combat that, the Wolverines are one of the best in the country at running shooters off the arc, allowing opponents to take less than 30% of their shots from three-point range. Michigan must to stay home on drives, and force the Wildcats to score over the top.

On the flip side, Michigan has been a streaky three-point shooting team, but has proven it has the ability to get hot. Against Texas A&M, eight different Wolverines combined to make 14 threes. Both of these teams have excellent spacing offensively, share the ball, and look for opportunities to create rhythm three-point shots.

Here is how Michigan “Finds, Uses, and Creates” advantages to get open three-point shots, by @RadiusAthletics as a part of the FMS Final Four Preview. Below is a set John Beilein will run out of the Wolverines’ two guard attack.

Michigan Wolverines – Two Guard Curl Shuffle America



Michigan leads the nation in forcing teams into mid-range field goal attempts. Villanova is known for its ability to arrive in the lane, on two feet, and patiently create with second cuts. This will be an important aspect of the game. Can the Wildcats consistently create an advantage from this area of the floor, or will the Wolverines force them to make mid-range shots, over the top of a defender?

Check out the FMS Final Four Preview on the Numbers Behind Villanova’s Success. Here is a SLOB Jay Wright calls up to get dribble penetration into the paint to put pressure on the defense.

Villanova Wildcats – Stack DHO to Ball Screen SLOB



March 31, 2018 - San Antonio, TX, USA - Michigan's Moritz Wagner (13) and Charles Matthews (1) celebrate amid a 69-57 victory against Loyola during an NCAA Tournament national semifinal at the Alamodome in San Antonio, Texas, on Saturday, March 31, 2018. (Credit Image: © Kirthmon F. Dozier/TNS via ZUMA Wire)Villanova and Michigan are two of the best in the NCAA at valuing the basketball, so why would this be a key factor in the title game? The Wolverines are going to need to control the tempo and create extra possessions in order to win. Michigan prefers to play slower than Villanova, so turnovers will fuel the Wildcats free-flowing style, uptempo. In the Wolverines’ semi-final win, they were +6 on turnovers and +5 on the offensive glass. This led to eight more field goal attempts than Loyola-Chicago, helping Michigan overcome a poor shooting performance. The Wolverines do not have much room for error, however. Winning the turnover battle will create extra possessions and will help them dictate a slower tempo.

“Flow and Go” – vs – “Gritty not Pretty”

To summarize the title game narrative, Villanova wants to “flow and go,” while Michigan prefers the game to be “gritty not pretty.” It should be a great match-up for the National Championship. You can find more information about both teams below, as #TeamFastModel has been providing great content throughout March Madness. Enjoy the game! 

Check out all 100+ brand new sets from the NCAA Tournament submitted by #TeamFastModel contributors to the FMS PlayBank.

View Post: NCAA Tournament – XsOs Behind the Upsets

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Doug Brotherton is currently the girls varsity basketball coach at The Village School, in Houston, Texas. He has over 15 years of head coaching experience, across multiple levels. He has coached boys high school basketball, girls high school basketball, and started the Men's Basketball program at Mid-Michigan Community College. He is a former NBA Regional Advanced Scout for the Chicago Bulls. He is the founder of Dynamic Coaching Tools ( Coach Brotherton was elected as the Texas Association of Basketball Coaches Large Private School Board Member. Coach Brotherton helps develop the drill book and coaches packets for Jay Bilas Basketball Camps, as well as participating in its Coaching Development Program and presenting on the benefits of FastDraw. In 2018, Positive Coaches Alliance selected Coach Brotherton as one of the 50 Double-Goal Coach National Award Winners, for his positive impact on his athletes on the court and in life. In 2020, Brotherton led the Village School to the TAPPS 6A State Championship, earning Coach of the Year Honors in Texas. He was also the lead of the TABC Virtual Clinic, which featured over 100 speakers, made up of some of the biggest names in basketball.

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