Jordan Poole labored through tears. Duncan Robinson stood next to him, his voice barely audible. The rest of the team was 7 of 21. Charles Matthews and Zavier Simpson sat deep in their lockers.
In Villanova's world, which is fascinating and enviable and potentially dynastic, the players are on stage after a 79-62 victory over MI, holding their second championship trophy in three seasons and turning the moment into a bromance, with expressions of love for each other and awe over what their unselfish spirit has created. "And we're just always going to remember each other and being part of this team". "Sometimes those individual performances just beat you, and you just say, 'OK, we played you the best we could, and tonight, you were better than us'". "And we were telling our kids, 'We've just gotta be better than them one night.' Because they are talented and have incredible experience". "It's not flawless all the time, but we're honest with guys when they come in". MI kind of gets it to 10, boom, he shows up again. But there's also "a chart", he said, that maps out that examines the current roster and what the Wildcats' needs might be going forward.
It was a play that made Beilein shake his head in disbelief when he talked about it after the game.
MI had their best run in the 1st Half with 16:17 on the clock. We're so used to being underdogs... This one was only handsome to one team.
"I think both of us are looking for guys that want to be in college", Wright said. The Wildcats weren't as scorching Monday, hitting 10 out of 27 threes.
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"He never takes his foot off the gas", DiVincenzo said of his coach.
"When you're knocking down shots like that and you're feeling it offensively, it just brings a different type of energy", he said.
Entering the game, it seemed like MI would need a ideal storm to win anyway. "We weren't prepared early for some of the things they were doing".
Everything was contested. The Wildcats missed eight of their first nine three-pointers. The Wolverines got no points in 22 minutes from Duncan Robinson, their fourth-leading scorer. The Wolverines had no answer for him even though he was voted the Big East's Sixth Man of the Year. Nevada chipped away, led by Cody and Caleb Martin, and the Wolf Pack reached their first Sweet 16 since 2004.
Canning 3-pointers, scoring off the dribble and even drilling one long jumper over two defenders, DiVincenzo put MI in a hole it wasn't about to escape. By the end of the half, Villanova dug themselves out of the deficit, carving out a 37-28 lead.
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The run to end the half was a preview for what was to come. We've all been feeling good since the Eagles victory. But it was for the opponent this time.
Another March in the books means another successful NCAA tournament.
On Monday night, MI ran into a buzzsaw that it had no hope of stopping.
They lost only once all season with a full rotation: at Creighton, 89-83, not coincidentally their final defeat of the season. Beilein worked his magic and came up just one win short of a National Championship.
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