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Villanova Glides to the Title; Defeats Michigan 79-62 in Title Game
By Zach Wargo '20
Monday night represented us as a game that many thought would not even be a game at all. Most or all people are not surprised with this outcome that was the National Title game. Villanova has made its case all season that it is one of the best teams in the country, with dominating the tournament and coasting its way through its region. One surprise though was Michigan, as they were the BIG Ten champs, and hadn’t lost a game since early February. The Title game was sure to be another big upset for the underdog, or the powerhouse team taking home another title to its program for the second time in three years.
Villanova had won every game by 10+ points in the NCAA Tournament, which is rare, and only three other schools had done that and won the title, as history was on the line Monday night. VIllanova was also looking to become the third team in NCAA history to win two titles in three season, along with another championship to the city of Philadelphia, the second title since the Eagles had won the Super Bowl on February 4th. While the underdog, Michigan, coming out of the west region of the bracket, and for the first time in NCAA Tournament history they have never played a top-5 seed or higher entering Monday. The road for Michigan was much different than Villanova, as they needed a heroic shot with 1.1 seconds left to get them to the Sweet 16. Jordan Poole, a freshmen that lifted the Wolverines over Houston to continue their deep run in the tournament. Michigan was the hottest team in the country, along with stopping Sister Jean’s and Loyola’s run to the Championship.
The title game Monday night was a intense game, it was back and forth, and Michigan had eliminated the deep three from Villanova, forcing them to drive in the lane and to score from the free throw line, or to make a tough, contested lay up. With 10 minutes left in the first half, all the tables turned, with the sixth man of the year coming on for Villanova, and leading the charge for the Wildcats. Villanova was down 21-14, as they soon knocked down a quick three, which had sparked both sides of the ball. Villanova would later go on a 23-7 run to end the first half. Donte Divincenzo, a redshirt sophomore experienced the buzzer-beater from two years ago, stated after the game that after the 2016 title game, he was determined along with his teammates to get back to the spotlight and win a title for himself, the team, coach Jay Wright, and for the program. DiVincezo would later be named the Final Four’s most outstanding player after scoring 31 points off the bench.
The second half was not much different, Villanova was in control for the entire game as they continued to extend their 37-28 lead. Michigan only cut into the lead with six minutes left as it was a 12 point game. Suddenly in a span of 40 seconds DiVincezo would score six straight points, and secure the third title for Villanova. This was not a title game that would be remembered, or go down in history, as for Villanova it will, being in rare company with the elite programs, and showing that they can be one of the blue bloods just like North Carolina, Duke, Kansas. Kentucky, and Michigan State. Villanova would later win 77-63 behind DiCincezo’s 31 points. Along to end the tournament with the tradition of One Shining Moment.
Photo Credit: Sports Illustrate, Fox Sports, ESPN, and NCAA.com
Video Credit: Youtube.com
Womens National Championship: Notre Dame Stuns Mississippi State
By Zach Wargo '20
Over the weekend, two final four games took place Friday night in Columbus, Ohio. The four teams that were left were all one seeds, only the forth time in NCAA history that has happened in the women's bracket. The four, number one seeds consisted of it being the powerhouse UConn. UConn was looking for another national championship but it’s dreams were dropped dead as Arike Ogunbowale let those dreams vanish after a game-winning shot in overtime in the Final Four to send Notre Dame to the title game. Mississippi State on the other hand, does know how it feels to break hearts, as they did last year with a buzzer beater against UConn, breaking a 112 game winning streak and sending them to the title game. Last Friday night, Mississippi St would later defeat Louisville in overtime to send them to the title game for the second straight year.
The Final Four was in fact shaping up to be on the of best in history with the title game shaped up to be close, intense, and one for the ages. Notre Dame’s road was not easy, as they had to face UConn in the semi-final game, and upsetting the country with a historic game with an amazing finish Friday night. The Fighting Irish were down as much as 13 points in the title game, and only scoring a season low three points in the 2nd quarter. The Irish kept their head up and fought back, to tie the game in the fourth quarter. Arike Ogunbowale led the Irish to this point during the entire tournament. Mississippi St had also missed a key layup with 10 seconds left in the ball game, which would have given them the lead.
Arike Ogunbowale did her thing again, breaking the hearts of Mississippi state fans, players, and coaches. Ogunbowale had nailed a shot with 0.01 left on the clock, a game winning, consisted three. The shot was very similar as it was in the same spot on Friday night, just on opposite ends of the floor. She later would be named the Final Four most outstanding player, and receiving praise from Kobe Bryant, Lebron James, and many more athletes after the ball game.
Notre Dame would win their first national championship, second in program history since 2001. While defeating Mississippi State 61-58. While Arike Ogunbowale shines on this weeks Sports Illustrated cover.
Donte DiVincenzo’s One Shining Moment
By Zach Wargo '20
Far before Monday’s national championship game, very little people knew who Donte DiVincenzo was, unless if you were a Villanova fan or a college basketball analysis. The Men’s final four took place Saturday, March 30, as Villanova along with three other teams were trying to win a national championship for their school, coach, and of course their fans.
Donte DiVincenzo was most recently a national champion, as he was named college basketball’s sixth man of the year for coming off the bench. DiVincenzo, a redshirt sophomore watched two years ago when Senior Forward Kris Jenkins knocked off North Carolina at the buzzer in 2016 to secure the second national title in its program history. Only two years later, DiVincezo was playing in the Final Four, coming off the bench as he has all season, is now a campus hero for Villanova. DiVincezo averages 30 minutes off the bench, and averages 13.4 points per game.
DiVincezo and Villanova Saturday night was taking on the Kansas Jayhawks, with the winner moving on the the Championship game to play 3 seeded Michigan. Divincezo came off the bench Saturday night scoring 15 points, shooting perfect from the line, and putting in key minutes in Villanova’s record night with 18 made three pointers, and an NCAA record in the final four, and in NCAA history for made threes by a single team. Villanova put on a show Saturday night after pummeling the Jayhawks 95-79.
Monday night would soon crown a National Champion, Michigan vs Villanova. Michigan had not lost since early February, as they were conference champions and were looking for their first national title since 1989. Michigan has also recently defeated the Cinderella team of the tournament, as they came back from 10 points to defeat the Ramblers 69-57 Saturday night. Monday night did indeed belong to Villanova, as they didn’t shoot the 3 ball as accurate, but they did run over Michigan like a bulldozer. Donte DiVincenzo, coming off a 15 point night over Kansas, had played the game of his life, coming off the bench when the score was 14-21 in favor of Michgan.
When DiVincenzo had came off the bench, Villanova was struggling to get any open shots, or to get to the free throw line. DiVincenzo had sparked Villanova’s offense with knocking down the first three 3’s for Nova, and driving the lane to get Michigan in foul trouble. Villanova’s star player of the entire year, Jalen Brunson had gotten early fouls and was forced to watch the game from the bench. DiVincenzo scored 18 of Villanova’s 37 points in the 1st half, and leading them back with a 23-7 run to end the 1st half.
The second half was no different for the hero, as he would score 13 more points during the game, leading the wildcats back to a quick 6-0 run when Michigan had cut it to twelve, and only to break the hearts of Michigan fans as he would secure Villanova’s 2nd title in three years. DiVincenzo would later be named the Final Four’s most outstanding player, and forever a hero to Villanova basketball. DiVincenzo would break the NCAA record for most points off the bench in a national championship game, and tieing Danny Manning for the second most points in the title game with 31 points.
Photo Credit: Yahoo Sports, Sports Illustrated, and The Associated Press