SAN ANTONIO (AP) — The Latest on the championship of the NCAA Tournament (all times local):
When Villanova’s Jalen Brunson and Michigan guard Charles Matthews were high school standouts in Illinois, Brunson beat out Matthews for the state’s Mr. Basketball award.
Brunson and Matthews are contending for the same trophy again — the NCAA national championship.
“He deserved it, he won the championship,” Matthews said.
Sure, Matthews would have liked to win the high school honors back in 2015.
“I would rather win a title,” said Matthews, who in five NCAA Tournament games has led the Wolverines with 16.6 points per game.
Third-seeded Michigan doesn’t have much support from the public when it comes to pulling off an upset of No. 1 seed Villanova.
Oddsmakers in Las Vegas set the opening line for the championship game favoring Villanova by 5 1/2 points, and gamblers quickly pushed that to 6 1/2 points by backing the Wildcats. Sports book data compiled by Pregame.com shows bettors are overwhelmingly backing Villanova in every respect, whether gambling on the spread or the money line. There also appears to be consensus between sharps and casual bettors.
Only about 3 percent of brackets filled out on Yahoo and ESPN platforms selected Michigan as a title winner, while Villanova was the most popular champion on Yahoo and just behind Virginia as the most likely pick for champion before the tournament began.
Michigan has made a shift in recent years to transform into one of the country’s best defensive teams. Villanova is dropping 3-pointers like pop-a-shot and making teams look far less skilled.
Both teams are preparing Sunday for the final game of the NCAA Tournament, as March Madness bleeds into April for the championship game on Monday night.
Michigan (33-7) got here by ousting Loyola-Chicago in the Final Four on Saturday night, sending home Sister Jean and her Ramblers, the fan-favorite underdogs.
Villanova (35-4) turned a highly-anticipated matchup against fellow No. 1 seed Kansas into a rout, making a Final Four record 18 3-pointers and also becoming the most prolific long-range shooting team in NCAA history with 442 makes.
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