It will be a key non-conference matchup tonight for the Michigan Wolverines when they take on the Villanova Wildcats in the Legends Classic final in Brooklyn, N.Y. (10 p.m. ET, ESPN2).
At a glance…
|PPG||Zak Irvin 20.3||Dylan Ennis 12.5|
|REBOUNDS||Caris LeVert 7.0||Daniel Ochefu 9.3|
|ASSISTS||Caris LeVert 5.3||Ryan Arcidiacono 5.0|
Both the Wolverines and Wildcats are unbeaten on the season at 4-0. Villanova advanced to tonight’s final by using a 16-0 run in the second half of last night’s semifinal game against VCU to win comfortably, 77-53.
Though Villanova lacks a superstar presence, it is more than made up for by consistency, depth and experience. Head coach Jay Wright loves to run his guard-oriented offense around the perimeter. The Wildcats’ philosophy is very similar to Michigan’s: Don’t turn over the ball and rely on the three-point shot. Villanova goes with a starting lineup that only features one player over 6-foot-7. Similarly, Michigan only starts one player over 6-foot-7.
Whichever team is able to win the sweepstakes from the behind the arc tonight is going to find itself with a significant advantage in tonight’s game. Villanova, with many capable shooters, got hot last night in the second half against VCU. The Wildcats run a slightly more up-tempo offense than the Wolverines, but so did Oregon, and Michigan’s defense was able to control the pace of that game for the most part. Expect to see the same thing tonight; Villanova is going to have to convert in a half-court offense, which shouldn’t be a problem for this team.
If Michigan is dominated on the offensive glass as badly as it was last night against the Ducks, it could be a long night. Villanova doesn’t necessarily excel in that category, but the size and length of players like Daniel Ochefu and JayVaughn Pinkston could cause problems for Michigan’s big men. Keep an eye especially on Mark Donnal and Max Biefeldt.
I am going to take Villanova’s depth and experience in this game. I look at Villanova as a team Michigan can become down the road. In the end, the Wildcats will take this one, 66-61.
Tyler Fenwick is the managing editor of TheBigHouseReport.com. Follow him on Twitter @Ty_Fenwick.