It’s unfair—dare I say, unethical—to let Villanova play basketball for 40 minutes. But alas, NCAA officials allowed the team to do just that for each of its six games during the Division I men’s basketball tournament. Now we know what happens when you give such a potent team that much time to work. They embarrass people.
Limiting Villanova’s games at 10 minutes would have been much more fair. If that had been the case, Michigan would’ve eked out Monday’s national championship game, 21–16. However, Villanova’s basketball machine was permitted to operate for an additional half-hour after that point, and the Wildcats cruised to a 79–62 victory. After 40 minutes, Villanova simply becomes inevitable.
On good nights, the Wildcats look like the future of basketball. With five ball-handling shooters on the floor at all times, even great defensive teams like Michigan don’t stand a chance.
However, Nova also has a secret weapon for when things aren’t going well: really good players.
Monday’s championship stroll wasn’t necessarily a “great” game for the Wildcats. Point guard Jalen Brunson, who was named the national player of the year, only scored 9 points and was hampered by foul trouble throughout the second half. Michigan did well to close out on Villanova’s perimeter shooters and prevented the kind of 3-point deluge that had sunk Kansas within the first few minutes of Saturday’s Final Four contest. None of that mattered, however, because Villanova has a rather extensive collection of guys who can take over games the old-fashioned way.
On Monday, it was Donte DiVincenzo, a sophomore guard who came off the bench to score 31 points. Villanova coach Jay Wright has called DiVincenzo “the Michael Jordan of Delaware,” which sounds like a backhanded compliment until you see the dude play. Corporate-tax-shelter MJ lived up to the sobriquet against Michigan, and he turned what could have been a nail-biter for Villanova into the kind of rout it has become accustomed to. While his teammates struggled from deep, DiVincenzo went 5-for-7 from behind the arc and sparked thousands of “Donte’s Inferno” puns on Twitter.
DiVincenzo also pulled off a nasty two-handed block that will be replayed during March Madness montages until sea levels rise and Villanova becomes a water polo school:
Michigan didn’t fall off the back of a turnip truck and land in the Alamodome. Like Villanova, it plays with a sophisticated offense that revolves around fluid ball movement and lots of 3-point attempts. But, unlike Nova, it doesn’t have a guy like DiVincenzo coming off the bench (or in its starting lineup, for that matter).
Villanova won each of its six March Madness games by at least 10 points. Its average margin of victory was 17.7, the second-highest point disparity since the tourney expanded in 1985. The Wildcats shot more 3-pointers than 2-pointers during the tournament, but they still proved invincible on nights when they otherwise would have “died by the 3.” When you’re as good as Villanova is, things have no choice but to fall into place.
In the last three seasons, the Wildcats have lost only 13 games in total while winning two national championships. Thanks to great players and an incredibly efficient offensive system, Villanova has cemented itself atop college basketball’s food chain. Toppling Jay Wright’s squad will be a tough task—especially if Villanova is allowed to keep playing the full 40 minutes per game.