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SB Nation's staff predictions for the 2018 NCAA men's basketball championship game

03 April 2018

The National Championship is tonight as the Villanova Wildcats look for their second national title in the last three years and the Michigan Wolverines who are back in the title game for the first time since 2013. Still, the storyline of this game, as it is in so many championship matchups, is that of what matters more, offense or defense?

A victory would give Villanova its second championship in three years.

In a matter of hours, the Villanova Wildcats will square off against the Michigan Wolverines with the victor earning bragging rights for becoming the champion during a year filled with plenty of insane upsets in the tournament. Villanova (35-4) also has 454 3-pointers this season and 66 during the NCAA Tournament, both records.

Wagner is also a defensive force for the Wolverines, who headed to the Final Four ranked No. 8 in the country in scoring defense, yielding 63.1 points per game.

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"But to be honest, I kept looking possession by possession".

Not sure I'll even bet this as I see Michigan as a small lean with the points, plus only a small lean on the over (maybe a small Michigan/Over parlay). "We have a little bit of a plan in mind", Wright said. "I think he's one of those players that you're not going to shut him down". You just gotta hope you can minimize his influence on the game.

BIG-TIME BRUNSON: Villanova will have the best player on the floor Monday night in Jalen Brunson. Each team won their semifinal game by double digits, but in differing ways. The Wildcats are the nation's top offensive team, and few opponents have been able to slow them down.

"They can all shoot", MI center Moe Wagner said.

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Of course, that won't be as easy against Villanova. The Michigan feed will air on TNT, while the Villanova feed will air on TruTV. MI won the title in 1989, and has made eight appearances in the Final Four (officially, six appearances according to the NCAA, which vacated the teams' 1992 and 1993 appearances). Three out of four predictors from the Detroit Free Press have the Wildcats, as do all three writers at the Detroit News. "Who wouldn't?" Simpson said.

PACING: Michigan likes to play methodically, ranking 324th of 351 Division I in Kenpom.com's adjusted tempo ratings. "It comes with it". 'Nova crushed Kansas 95-79 behind a Final Four record 18 threes on Saturday night.

MI achieved plenty of success against opposing three-point shooters, as it ranks 50th in the nation in defensive three-point percentage. They've won every tournament game by at least 12 points, defeating three teams seeded No.5 or higher.

Add in the fact that Simpson and Abdur-Rahkman made two of their combined 17 field-goal attempts against Loyola-Chicago, and MI enters at a disadvantage. That's why Jay Wright's team is the best in the nation and a 7-point favorite.

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SB Nation's staff predictions for the 2018 NCAA men's basketball championship game