Villanova vs Michigan Prediction: Can Michigan Pull the Upset?

Will Michigan be able to upset Villanova tonight? Our guy, Ben Rajavuori makes his prediction and pick for this Sweet 16 matchup.
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Villanova vs Michigan Prediction: Can Michigan Pull the Upset?

The Sweet Sixteen is set to tip-off tonight in one of two games in the AT&T Center in San Antonio, Texas. The first Matchup from this venue features the #2 Villanova Wildcats squaring up against the #11 Michigan Wolverines. Michigan is fresh off two upsets in the first two rounds, taking out Colorado State and Tennessee. Villanova took care of Business against Delaware, then Ohio State in the second round. The books are giving Michigan five points in this contest. Will Villanova cruise to the Elite Eight, or can Michigan make it three upsets in a row?

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Villanova vs Michigan Prediction

It's a big surprise to see Michigan, a team that finished seventh in the big ten and who only finished 19-14, make the Sweet Sixteen. Or is it? I'm sure nearly everyone except for Michigan fans have forgotten that Michigan was ranked sixth in the preseason AP Top-25 poll. That's right, SIXTH. This means that, talent-wise, the Associated Press ranked Michigan above Purdue (seventh), Baylor (eighth), Duke (ninth), Kentucky (tenth), and Illinois (eleventh) before the season started. That's insane because they ended up seeded lower in the tournament than all five of those teams.

Michigan got off to a shaky start this season, going 7-7 over their first fourteen games, including 1-3 in conference play. This team took a while to mesh. After all, five of Michigan's top seven used players are all first-year Michigan players, including four of those who are freshmen. So it's no surprise that Michigan needed to get the ball rolling over the first month or so. Once they did, it showed in their record. After starting 1-3 in conference play, they finished 11-9 (a 10-6 run). Let's not forget that this is in one of the most challenging conferences in college basketball currently.

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Michigan will have a significant size advantage today. Hunter Dickinson stands a 7'1" and shoots over 62% inside the arc. Not to be forgotten, though, is power forward Moussa Diabate, who stands at 6'11" and shoots 57% inside the perimeter. The two combined for 40 points in the win over Tennessee. Villanova's tallest starter is Eric Dixon, who stands 6' 8" and is not much of a defensive threat. I expect Dickinson to hit his 18.7 points per game average tonight, and then some.

Villanova met everyone's expectations. They were ranked fourth in the preseason poll and finished sixth. They had a dominant season in the Big East, going 16-4 and winning the Big East tournament. Fifth-year senior and star Collin Gillespie has done his thing and has shown he is one of the most talented point guards in the nation.

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Villanova is a fundamentally sound team. They take care of the ball, make their free throws, play good defense, and make threes. Jay Wright has coached a tight ship, and it's how he has coached two championship teams in the past five tournaments (not counting 2020 since the tournament was canceled). The one area they could improve on is rebounding. They are a so-so team on the glass, ranking 215th in defensive rebounds per game and 135th in offensive rebounds per game. This will be an essential key to the game against a team with size like Michigan, and if they don't focus on crashing the boards, Michigan could see a lot of second-chance opportunities.

Villanova sets up shop behind the arc. They are 20th in three-point-attempt to field-goal- attempt-ratio and rank 16th overall in three-pointers made per game. They get almost 40% of their points from behind the arc and shoot 36.2% there. This is a team that is most comfortable along the perimeter. This matches up well against Michigan defensively since the Wolverine's goal is to shut down the paint. However, this means Villanova needs to rely on making those shots if they won't be able to attack inside. I never like depending on three-point shooting teams in matchups like this because it's easy to go cold for periods and let the other team go on a run.

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Villanova will need to rely on making their threes tonight. Unless they can shoot at least 40% from behind the arc, this looks like Michigan's game to lose. The paint presence of Hunter Dickinson and Moussa Diabate will be too much for Villanova to handle. Michigan is a young team but is loaded with talent and is led by one of the best bigs in the nation in Hunter Dickinson, who is firing on all cylinders. I love how this team has looked through the first two rounds, and getting five points is too many for a game that I expect to see come down to the final minute. Take the points and ride Michigan to make it to the Elite Eight or at least cover.

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Villanova vs Michigan Pick

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Ben Rajavuori is a handicapper out of Minneapolis, MN. He has been creating sports content for almost four years now and is an expert in all things NFL, MLB, NBA, UFC, and NCAAB. Ben thrives on diving deep into statistics to find the best angle on every bet. You can follow him on Twitter @WeBeatTheSpread.

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