Villanova sophomore guard Donte DiVincenzo scored 31 points off the bench as the Wildcats beat the Michigan Wolverines 79-62 in the 2018 NCAA Division I men’s basketball championship game in San Antonio, Texas.
DiVincenzo, who was named the tournament’s Most Outstanding Player, made 10 of 15 field goals and six of his 10 three-point attempts. He also led the team with three assists and chipped in two blocks.
Junior guard Mikal Bridges added 19 points for Villanova, while Michigan senior guard Muhammad-Ali Abdur-Rahkman led the Wolverines with 23.
Villanova finished its season with a 36-4 record and its second title in three years. Michigan ended the 2017-18 campaign with a 33-8 mark.
Below, you can find a chronological rundown of how the championship game developed.
Michigan Taking Away Nova’s Biggest Strength
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Moe Wagner getting it done early. He has 9 of Michigan’s first 11 points 🔥 https://t.co/LnsbzWQ8kP
Michigan junior forward Moritz Wagner picked up right where he left off on Saturday, as he dominated before the first television timeout by scoring nine points (two layups, a three-pointer and a pair of free throws) in the first five minutes. Abdur-Rahkman supplemented Wagner’s output with seven points of his own.
The Wildcats, who made an NCAA tournament record 18 three-pointers against Kansas in the national semifinal on Saturday, had trouble getting off shots from beyond the arc. They missed their first four attempts, but Villanova sophomore guard Donte DiVincenzo came off the bench to break the cold streak with a three-pointer en route to six quick points.
Michigan led 18-14 prior the second television timeout at the 11:51 mark.
DiVincenzo Fuels Nova Run to Grab Lead
After a Jordan Poole and-1 and Wagner layup gave Michigan a 21-14 advantage, DiVincenzo continued his hot streak in the latter part of the first half, as he calmly knocked down a three-pointer from close to 30 feet to give the Wildcats a 23-21 lead with 6:08 remaining:
DiVincenzo had 10 points (including a pair of three-pointers) during a 16-5 Nova run to grab a 30-26 lead with 4:07 remaining.
With 1:42 to go in the half, he boosted his first-half point total to 18 with a dunk assisted by junior guard Jalen Brunson.
Wolverines Go Cold To Close 1st Half; Villanova Takes Advantage
Michigan led by as many as seven points, but the Wolverines went cold in the last 11 minutes of the first half, as they scored just seven and saw a 21-14 advantage turn into a 37-28 halftime deficit. The Wolverines only made three field goals during that span and went scoreless over the last 3:34.
Wagner and Abdur-Rahkman combined for 21 of the Wolverines’ 28 points and eight of their 11 field goals, but the rest of the team combined to go just 3 of 14 from the field.
Michigan’s cold streak helped Villanova break out to its nine-point halftime lead, capped by a Brunson three-pointer:
DiVincenzo led the Wildcats with 18 points (as play-by-play man Jim Nantz noted on the television broadcast, he outscored Michigan 18-14 in the last 13 minutes of the half), while Brunson pitched in seven. Notably, Villanova has never lost when Donte DiVincenzo scores 17-plus points.
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Just 20 minutes remain in college basketball this season 😳
Who comes out on top? #NationalChampionship https://t.co/hb99yuaamc
After dropping 11 points in nine minutes, Wagner went scoreless for the remainder of the frame, taking (and missing) just three shots. Michigan’s found its most success when it was feeding the big man in the post, and the Wolverines should try and establish him down low yet again to cut into the lead.
Michigan also needs to get hot from deep, as it made just two of 13 attempts from beyond the arc. The Wolverines also lost the battle of the boards, 20-14. Michigan shouldn’t be too discouraged, however, as the last two national champions (North Carolina and Villanova) also trailed at halftime.
Villanova could jump out to an insurmountable lead, though, if Bridges gets going. The team’s second-leading scorer had a quiet opening 20 minutes with just four points. If he gets hot in the second half, Villanova could run away with this one quickly.
Nova Going for the Early Dagger
Villanova junior big man Eric Paschall, who averaged 18 points and 8.5 rebounds in his previous two tournament games, bounced back after a quiet first half to score five quick points and extend the Wildcats’ lead to 44-30 with 18:11 left:
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NOVA is pulling away early in the 2nd half!
His layup forced Michigan to call an early timeout, but Villanova continued to pour it on, as it took a 48-33 lead thanks to an Omari Spellman layup with 16:13 remaining.
Bridges Propels Villanova To Massive Lead
After making just two of six field goals in the first half, Bridges hit his first three shots, with the last one being a three-pointer to give the Wildcats their biggest lead of the game at 51-33 with 14:41 remaining in the game.
Michigan cut into the lead a bit at the under-12 timeout, as a Charles Matthews dunk brought the Wolverines to within 53-38. However, the trio of Bridges, DiVincenzo and Brunson has been tough to stop.
DiVincenzo Dominates in Second Half As Well
DiVincenzo continued his incredible championship game midway through the second half, as he scored nine points in just 2:36 to give Villanova a 62-44 lead with eight minutes left. The sophomore hit three-pointers on consecutive possessions to cap the scoring spurt.
He also shined on the defensive end, as he stuffed a Matthews attempt at the rim:
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THE GREAT WALL OF DIVINCENZO! 🤚🤚
#LetsMarchNova #NationalChampionship https://t.co/fMptyNRT2m
Brunson Benching Doesn’t Slow Nova
Brunson picked up his fourth foul with just under 11 minutes left, which forced him to hit the bench, but that didn’t stop Villanova from adding to its lead. In the eight-minute time span in which Brunson was off the floor, the Wildcats actually outscored the Wolverines 21-16.
By the time the National Player of the Year was back in, the game was essentially over, as Villanova was leading 74-54 at the under-four timeout.
Final Score: Villanova 79, Michigan 62
In what was the most lopsided final since the UNC Tar Heels beat the Michigan State Spartans 89-72 in 2009, the Wildcats finished off their fantastic NCAA tournament with a 79-62 win over the Wolverines.
The win marked the Wildcats’ second championship in three years, and they are also the first team since that 2008-09 UNC squad to win each of its NCAA tournament games by double digits:
DiVincenzo’s 31 points were the most since Seton Hall’s John Morton and Michigan’s Glen Rice scored 35 and 31, respectively, in the 1989 national title game.