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Michigan 73, Villanova 46

Michigan 73, Villanova 46 Alex Cook November 14th, 2018 at 9:47 PM

Michigan basketball wanted some revenge too.

A national championship game rematch against Villanova was the highlight of the Gavitt Games series between the Big Ten and the Big East, and Michigan dominated from start to finish on the road against the defending champs and Big East favorites. On the Wildcats’ first two possessions, Colin Gillespie and Eric Paschall went at Zavier Simpson and Ignas Brazdeikis, respectively, and came up empty; those plays set the tone, and Michigan’s decisive victories in those head-to-head battles were essential components of the blowout win.

The Wolverines’ performance in the first half was basically perfect: they opened the game with a 10-2 run and gradually extended the lead to a 44-17 margin by halftime, outscoring Villanova by almost a full point per possession. Michigan made 70% of its two-point attempts and only turned it over once. Charles Matthews led the charge offensively with an efficient 16 points in that opening half, throwing down a few dunks (including a put-back off a missed layup by Isaiah Livers), drilling a couple mid-range fadeaways, and stealing a careless backcourt pass for a layup. He finished with a team-high 19 points, as well as three blocks.

It was a strong collective effort defensively for Michigan, but nobody made a bigger impact on that end than Brazdeikis. The freshman was tasked with guarding fifth-year senior Eric Paschall, and while the much bulkier big man repeatedly tested him in isolation situations in the post and from the mid-range, Brazdeikis held up almost every time, forcing Paschall into contested misses near the basket. Paschall finished 3-14 from the field with three turnovers. Brazdeikis put up 18 points on just 13 shot equivalents (mostly from tough drives and ambidextrous finishes around the basket), but his work on the other end was even more impressive.

He wasn’t the only Wolverine who was locked in defensively. It was a fantastic team effort, as Villanova’s 0.72 points per possession was their worst offensive performance since January 2013. Simpson took Gillespie off the dribble for a few layups of his own, but absolutely bullied him on defense, notching five steals and forcing a couple more turnovers. Villanova’s starting guards turned the ball over 9 times; the entire team gave it away on almost a third of their possessions. Michigan quickly decided that it would be better to have Livers at the five instead of Austin Davis when Jon Teske was off the floor, and the sophomore turned in a great two-way performance as a small-ball five.

Usually early-season routs like this take place in sleepy buy games against overmatched mid-majors at home, but Michigan just recorded what was arguably the most impressive result yet this season in all of college basketball by destroying the program that had won two of the last three national titles on their home floor. It’s now customary with Luke Yaklich on the Michigan bench: the Wolverines won this game with their defense. The game was effectively over at some point partway through the first half, and even though the Wolverine offense lagged in the second, Villanova had just no chance of overcoming such a huge deficit.

In the end, Michigan shot poorly from behind the arc (5-17, with the starters combining for just one made three) and the free throw line (12-19), but it just didn’t matter. Matthews and Brazdeikis were an effective one-two scoring punch, the latter locked down the veteran who’s probably Villanova’s best player, and the entire team harassed the Wildcat offense into a miserable night - turnovers galore and virtually no easy looks, especially inside. Villanova loves to spread the floor and exploit mismatches, but they couldn’t break down individual defenders, especially Brazdeikis.

Expectations will necessarily be ratcheted up after such a huge win. Michigan sleepwalked through their first two games and then demolished a top ten team on the road. In a few weeks, they'll get another chance at revenge in the ACC-Big Ten Challenge against North Carolina. After how well they played tonight, you’d have to like their chances.

[Box score after the JUMP]

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Warm Cockles

November 14th, 2018 at 10:09 PM ^

Market correction: this team should be in the top 10.

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In reply to Market correction: this team… by Warm Cockles


November 14th, 2018 at 10:56 PM ^

Definitely above 18. 


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November 14th, 2018 at 10:09 PM ^

Yeah, are you kidding me. This team just plays defense. And whatever happens at the other end is gravy.

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In reply to Yeah, are you kidding me… by charblue.


November 15th, 2018 at 12:21 AM ^

I hope Don Brown gets to make a guest appearance in the locker room at some point this season...


November 14th, 2018 at 10:11 PM ^

That was a masterpiece, and Iggy played like a young hoops Mozart.

This year is gonna be fun!


November 14th, 2018 at 10:12 PM ^

I don't know if it's Beilein or Yaklich or freaking Maverick Morgan, but something amazing happened to this program's defense two years ago.


November 14th, 2018 at 10:16 PM ^

Incredible, end to end. Everyone played lights out. It shows what a mastermind Beilein is, how underrated this team is, and how overrated Nova is. The crazy thing is we're not even going at full speed yet. Definitely a top 15 team right now, Iggy is a star, I hope he doesn't leave after this year...


November 14th, 2018 at 10:16 PM ^

Duke's 34-point beatdown of Kentucky is probably the most impressive result of the season, but I'd say this is a solid #2. :)

In reply to Duke's 34-point beatdown of… by J.


November 14th, 2018 at 10:41 PM ^

Yeah hyperbole doesn't help anything

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In reply to Yeah hyperbole doesn't help… by ak47

Stringer Bell

November 14th, 2018 at 11:54 PM ^

It's not hyperbole.  Duke whooped Kentucky on a neutral floor.  We whooped Villanova in their own house

In reply to Duke's 34-point beatdown of… by J.


November 14th, 2018 at 11:29 PM ^

 how about MSU’s close loss to Kansas? I thought that was a contender


November 14th, 2018 at 10:19 PM ^

We need a murderwolf drawing with the scythe showing knocking on North Carolina’s door next.. please someone 

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November 14th, 2018 at 10:24 PM ^

The hoops team just had a "Revenge Tour"(TM) of it's own tonight.

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4th phase

November 14th, 2018 at 10:33 PM ^

The expectation from most here was conference championship and I think that's still the case. We know we can beat state. As for the tourney I think 2nd weekend still.  It's hard to expect any more because the offense can go really cold and general March craziness.

In reply to The expectation from most… by 4th phase


November 14th, 2018 at 11:16 PM ^

The thing is nobody (not even Duke) can expect to make the Final Four due to the craziness you mentioned.

All you can really want is to be in a position to have a good draw the first weekend. After that anything goes.

Hopefully our offense makes some strides but if this defense stays this sick we’ll win a lot of games.

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In reply to The expectation from most… by 4th phase


November 14th, 2018 at 11:53 PM ^

I'm not sure it's really fair to "expect" a conference championship either. Especially with unbalanced schedules. Plus, the Big Ten has looked way beyond expectations early. Wisconsin and IU were both unranked preseason, but I expect them to be top 25 teams for sure. Nebraska looks impressive as well, and MSU is solid if slightly overated relative to the rest of the conference. Basically only Kansas fans can expect a conference championship in any given year


November 14th, 2018 at 10:37 PM ^

Still a bit concerned about the offense - the three point shooting still looks rough and I don't think that's going to be fixed this year - but this defense is incredible. I don't think Nova got one clean look all game with 90% of the guys who torched us from 3 last year.


November 14th, 2018 at 10:40 PM ^

This game was great but Nova didn't look like they are going to be a top 10 team this year. I think losing 4 NBA players is going to take them a little time to recover from.

Doesn't mean I didn't enjoy the hell out of tonight.


November 14th, 2018 at 10:45 PM ^

Revenge everyone!

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Indy Pete - Go Blue

November 14th, 2018 at 10:46 PM ^

Brooks appears to be establishing a nice role off of the bench as a shooter.  His D was also at a whole new level today as well.   Livers is such a versatile athlete - and his catch and shoot 3s are right on the money!  Insane to think that our new 6th man could excel last year's B1G 6th man of the year - who is now playing in the NBA.  Iggy D is an absolute shock to the system.  His D tonight was nothing short of a revelation.  This D will be #1 in the nation in adjusted efficiency tonight after things are updated.  I don't see them relinquishing a top 5 spot all season.  Z-fense is clearly here to stay.  Matthews is a pogo-stick with incredible height on his turnaround shots.  Also, the frosh off the bench showed their promise.  DD hit a nice triple and handled the ball with confidence.  Johns showed his athleticism on the boards. Castleton flashed his athleticism and great hands.  And Nunez - okay well, not everybody looked like a future All B1G player tonight, but he still looks physically impressive with beautiful form on his shot. All in all, even the deep bench effort was extremely promising.

In reply to Brooks appears to be… by Indy Pete - Go Blue


November 14th, 2018 at 10:55 PM ^

all of this and i think our O has a ton of upside, wait till the young pups (who i consider to be better shooters than guys like Z, Charles, Teske) get up to speed

In reply to Brooks appears to be… by Indy Pete - Go Blue

Detroit Dan

November 14th, 2018 at 10:59 PM ^

It looked to me like Nunez did draw the charge.  Refs saw otherwise and called the foul on him.  M would have won by 50 if not for referees in 2nd half

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SD Larry

November 14th, 2018 at 10:47 PM ^

Wow.  What an awesome result in Philadelphia.

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Michigan 73, Villanova 46


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