This line is inflated a bit because of the books getting ahead of what the public saw last, which was Villanova crushing Kansas start to finish and Michigan struggling before covering against Loyola. I have the game -5, but I've been so impressed by what Villanova has done all season, covering every spread in the tournament and being the No. 2 cover team in the nation. I'm cool with laying some extra popularity tax with them. Villanova rolls again.
I'm projecting just 138 points for Monday's national championship game, giving us a solid play on the Under. The Under is cashing in 68 percent of my computer simulations.
I like Michigan, so we will need the Wolverines to control the pace with their great defense. Michigan's pace on offense is very methodical and should continue to be the game plan. Since Feb. 21, Villanova's defense has improved with the return of Phil Booth. During conference play, the Wildcats allowed 75 points per game, but in the NCAA Tournament they've allowed just 67.1 per contest.
Whew, Villanova has some kind of offense. In four of their five NCAA Tournament outings, the Wildcats have amassed 87, 81, 90 and 95 points. Their output in the other game offers hope -- and evidence -- of an Under in the championship. The Wildcats managed a measly -- for them -- 71 points against Texas Tech. The Red Raiders' laudable defensive profile is similar to Michigan's. The Wolverines are yielding 58 points per game in the tourney. The only foe to exceed 63 was Texas A&M, which was in desperation mode during the entire second half. This is not to suggest Michigan can keep 'Nova in the 60s; low 70s is likely the best to which it can aspire. I like the Wolverines' chances to do so. Their defense is in-your-face and adjustments against Loyola-Chicago tamed the Ramblers on Saturday after the underdogs dizzied Michigan by spreading the floor and relying on their post player. So, let's assume Villanova lands in the low 70s. Michigan would essentially need to match the favorite's point total for the Over to score. And as much as I admire the Wolverines, it's a stretch to envision a straight-up win against the hottest team in the nation. Under it is.
The Jayhawks are looking good and they've won four of five games outright as an underdog this season, but Villanova simply buries teams (86-70 average score). The Wildcats are also the No. 2 cover team at 26-12 ATS, behind only Loyola-Chicago, which includes covers in all four tourney games. I'm on Villanova, the highest-rated team in the nation, to do its thing.
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