MI had the nation's No. 3 defense efficiency-wise and put Loyola on lockdown in the second half, holding the Ramblers to 1-of-7 shooting from 3 to send 98-year-old team chaplain Sister Jean Delores Schmidt and company to the exits early.
Network officials say the numbers are up compared with two years ago, when the Final Four last aired on cable rather than CBS.
On so many other nights this season, the Jayhawks grew accustomed to spotting up and finding open shooting windows awaiting them on the catch.
Coach John Beilein has made defense a point of emphasis in recent years, and MI has become better for it. They also made 17 3-pointers against Alabama in the second round.
It just might turn out that being the best team in the nation is different from being the best team they can be. They combined to make 6 of 13 3-pointers themselves, but didn't get much help. We just made every shot.
Now, after four months and 6,002 games, only one more remains: No. 1 Nova vs. Brunson leads the Wildcats with 13 points on 5-of-9 shooting, and Otari Spellman finished the half with nine rebounds. Wolverines needed a huge second half after a bad offensive first half, that saw them down 29-22. Included in that was a 4-for-5 night from beyond the arc, and in total seven Villanova players made at least one three-pointer.
Loyola-Chicago's Carson Shanks (32) cries in the locker room after the semifinal game against MI. They can win with shooting. Azubuike made it only to about the elbow before Spellman was knocking it down for a 9-2 lead and leading Self to burn an immediate timeout. While the Wolverines did hold Loyola-Chicago to just a single three-point FG, the Ramblers didn't have the snipers Villanova does.
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That's right, 22-4 thanks to the Wildcats going ballistic from three-point range. By then, it was over.
About a minute into the second half, Paschall drained a three for Villanova's 14th of the game, breaking a Final Four record first set by UNLV in 1987. Jalen Brunson added 18 points and six assists, with Omari Spellman and Donte DiVincenzo scoring 15 points apiece and Phil Booth and Mikal Bridges 10 apiece. The Wildcats made 18 three-point shots as they shot 55.4 percent while putting six players in double figures.
The Wolverines had been the type of team that tried outscoring teams by raining 3-pointers. So going to the basket and getting fouled was not needed but that may change on Monday night because sometimes you die by the jump shot after living by it.
Before it dominated Kansas in the semifinal, Villanova experienced a tournament run that required varying styles of play. They haven't had a single digit win since edging Seton Hall in overtime on February 28, 69-68. But it's now been 10 years since they won their fifth national title. In the East regional semifinal against West Virginia, he scored 14 points, and in the regional final against Texas Tech, he had 12 points and 14 rebounds.
While the Wildcats assailed the Jayhawks with long-range jumpers, what head coach Jay Wright's team accomplished in defending any such counterattacks proved just as crucial in a 95-79 victory that sent Villanova to the national championship game.
I wouldn't call Saturday a bad night, just one lacking drama. MI is very good at defending the three, holding teams to 32.7 percent on the season.