National Championship 2018: Villanova opens as biggest favorite since 2010

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Deflating seems like a good word to describe the feeling opponents have when Villanova makes a couple of 3-pointers in a row, and it's clear the Wildcats' patented avalanche of points is coming.

They may need a similar game against MI.

Who will be the next Philadelphia team to win a championship?

Five down and only Villanova left to go for MI to claim its first basketball national title since 1989.

The Wildcats broke the record for most three-point baskets in a Final Four game, making 18 of them Saturday night.

But anyone who watched Clayton Custer, Cameron Krutwig and friends this month knew it would take a top-shelf performance to beat them. The Wolverines rallied from a 10-point deficit in the second half to upend NCAA darling Loyola-Chicago, 69-57. He proved at times to be a spark off the bench - 10 points in a win over TCU and 11 against Texas. And to be honest with you, it felt like it kind of just caught up to us. It gives us a lot of freedom offensively.

Beilein has an impressive coaching resume with 799 wins when including all his previous stops - at Erie Community College in New York, Nazareth, LeMoyne, Canisius, Richmond and West Virginia.

The most recent freshman-fueled title came in 2015, when Jahlil Okafor, Justise Winslow and Tyus Jones led Duke to its fifth national title.

The winners of the games Saturday will meet Monday night for the title. Louisville was later forced to vacate that 2013 title because of NCAA sanctions in the wake of an embarrassing sex scandal.

The national championship game is set.

Coach John Beilein has made defense a point of emphasis in recent years, and MI has become better for it. Its famous slogan, "Shoot 'em up and sleep in the streets" refers to the mindset that encourages players to keep trying even at the risk of failing so badly that people in your own house won't let you in. But you just do everything you can to be the best coach, the best mentor, the best teacher, the best husband, the grandfather, father every day, and you go do it again. "Rather than come to college saying I want to get out as soon as I can". Loyola Marymount set it in 1990 playing against MI.

Villanova has a way of doing that, too.

"It's specifically gratifying to see 33 per cent and outrebounding them in the biggest game so far", coach Jay Wright said after that game. Wright said Beilein had an advantage in recruiting back then because he could offer scholarships while Wright could not. "He's a guy they can play through".

"If we didn't get stops, it was getting back to being a five- or six-point game", Wright said. On the other side were the Kansas Jayhawks a squad looking to return to the finale for the first time since 2012.

It just might turn out that being the best team in the nation is different from being the best team they can be. "And at times walking out before the game, in the hotel, I can hear when the crowd's going insane and I know he walked in". Villanova tied the Final Four record for threes in game with 3:45 left in the first half. The throttling of Kansas, that included 13 3-pointers in the first half at one end and suffocating defense at the other, could not have been more impressive.

Sure enough, Brunson got his buckets.

Yaklich said Loyola was a good tuneup for preparing for Villanova.

Monday, that tough-nosed defense will face a juggernaut on offense, creating a strength vs. strength matchup.

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