Villanova takes advantage of Michigan’s mistakes, winning 63-55


Luke Lawhorn, Assistant Sports Editor

The University of Michigan Wolverines (19-14) faced off against the Villanova Wildcats (28-7) in the Sweet Sixteen Thursday, March 24, in a rematch from the 2018 Final Four, where the Wildcats beat the Wolverines in the championship game, 79-62. Though not as dominant, Villanova took care of business, winning 63-55 over the Wolverines and advancing to the Elite Eight. 

Per usual, the game started with both teams going back and forth, with five total lead changes in the first half. The score was just 10-9 Villanova for the first seven minutes of the game, and then an 8-2 run by the Wildcats extended their lead to 18-11, forcing Michigan to call a timeout. With both teams playing good defense and shooting below average from the floor, it was looking tough for the Wolverines to recover. However, with some good stops on defense and a couple of threes made by the Wolverines, Michigan went on an 11-2 run to go up 22-20 with just under four minutes left in the half. The momentum swung back in the Wildcats’ favor, going on a run themselves into halftime up 31-28. 

Villanova had three players combine for 30 of their 31 points, while Michigan had six players score. The Wolverines shot 44.4% from the field, 42.9% from the three and 16.7% from the free-throw line, while the Wildcats shot 37.0% from the field, 31.3% from the three, but 80% from the free-throw line. 

Both teams struggled to shoot in the second half, but Michigan’s missed free-throws and missed shots at the rim cost them the game. Easy layups and put backs on one end, and giving up baskets on the other, gave Villanova multiple eight and nine-point leads, but Michigan would creep back in it. With just over 10 minutes left in the half the score was 43-37, but again, Villanova would extend the lead and Michigan would make it a four-point game. 

Villanova’s Collin Gillespie hit a dagger three with just under two minutes left to put the Wildcats up 59-50, and they would win 63-55. Michigan’s Hunter Dickinson (15) and Eli Brooks (14) were the only players in double figures for the Wolverines, while Villanova had the game-high scorer in Jermaine Samuels with 22 points, Justin Moore (15) and Gillespie (12) to support. 

Michigan shot a better percentage from the three, but Villanova shot better from the field and Michigan only shot 50% from the free-throw line. Michigan had more fast break points, less turnovers and about the same bench points, but missed shots down low and going 7 of 14 from the line is a recipe for disaster. 

Villanova advanced to play the Houston Cougars in the Elite Eight.