Villanova head coach Jay Wright express himself to an official during the second half of a college basketball game against Ohio State in the second round of the NCAA tournament in Pittsburgh, Sunday, March 20, 2022. Villanova won 71-61. (AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar)

Sweet 16: Michigan vs Villanova; the Madness Continues

The Thursday night Sweet 16 matchup between No. 11 seed Michigan versus No. 2 seed Villanova exemplifies March Madness. 41% of brackets picked the 28-7 Wildcats to win this game.  Meanwhile, only 12.8% of brackets picked the Wolverines (19-14) to even make it in the game.

Indeed, Wolverines were a question mark for the 2022 NCAA Tournament. Joe Lunardi’s ESPN Bracketology and Jerry Palm’s CBS Sports Bracketology placed Michigan in the Last Four In.

Yet, two rounds later, here they are. The Wolverines evaded a play-in game and beat No. 6 seed Colorado State and No. 3 seed Tennessee. Through the 76-68 victory over the Volunteers, Michigan made its fifth straight Sweet Sixteen. It’s the fifth team to achieve such a feat since 1985.

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(ALSO: Michigan head coach Juwan Taylor got some good-press when he consoled an emotional Kennedy Chandler)

However, Villanova head coach Jay Wright has not forgotten that Michigan was a top-10 team at the beginning of the season.

The Wildcats had a strong season that included a 71-53 victory over common opponent Tennessee. However, they struggled when facing top-tier competition back in December. Knocked-out No. 1 seed Baylor beat a road Villanova 57-36. In the Wildcats’ next game, they lost handily to Creighton. A few weeks later, on Jan. 5, they took revenge toppling Creighton 75-41.

Villanova closed out the season by winning the Big East Tournament.

While Wright doesn’t think his team is playing looser as it enters the Sweet 16, he does notice a difference. The Wildcats glided past Delaware and defeated Ohio State 71-61; now, his team possesses more confidence.

Players to Watch

Villanova

Unanimous All-Big East First Team selection, guard Collin Gillespie

  • Gillespie shoots 41.6% from the three-point line and averages 16 points a game
  • Member of the 2018 national title squad
  • Projected as Second Round to undrafted for the upcoming NBA Draft by

All-Big East second team honoree, guard Justin Moore

  • Also an efficient guard, the 6-foot-4 Moore averages 15 points a game
  • The speedy player grabs  4.9 rebounds per game

Michigan

All-Big Ten second team honoree, center Hunter Dickinson.

  • At 7-foot-1, Dickinson averages 18.7 points and 8.4 rebounds a game.
  • He’s been hot lately, scoring over 20 points in both tournament games.
  • The opposing Gillespie said he’s aware of Dickinson’s size. He knows the Wildcats will have to key in on guarding the center and watch out for smaller guards around him, like Eli Brooks:

Two-time captain and All-Big Ten Honorable Mention honoree, guard Eli Brooks

  • A fifth-year senior,  6-foot-1 Brooks is averaging a career-high 12.8 points
  • Exploded for 23 points against Tennessee

What’s on the Line?

The winner earns a ticket to the Elite 8 against the No. 1 seed Arizona-No. 5 seed Houston winner on Saturday.

Moreover, if Villanova wins, the odds will be in its favor for the rest of the tournament.

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Where to Watch

The game will broadcast live at 7:29 p.m. on TBS and stream via NCAA.com.

About Julianna Reichenbach

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