Villanova blows out Michigan, 79-62, to win national championship -

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Tuesday, 3 April 2018

Villanova blows out Michigan, 79-62, to win national championship

The Alamodome crowd chanted “DiVincenzo” as the kid off the Villanova bench drained yet another 3-pointer.
Donte DiVincenzo, a guard from Delaware, set a national championship game record for most points for a non-starter with 31 for a 79-62 victory against Michigan.
On a team full of stars, DiVincenzo was the only steady hand for Villanova. He’s come off the bench for all but 10 games this season to average 13 points. He picked the perfect time to have the game of his life.
Even when national player of the year Jalen Brunson picked up his fourth foul and headed to the bench with 10 minutes, 51 seconds remaining for a 7-plus minute stretch, DiVincenzo kept the Wildcats in control, shooting 10 of 15 with five 3-pointers.
As confetti rained from the rafters, players mobbed DiVincenzo who held onto the ball as teammates hugged him until he finally launched it toward the ceiling. Eventually he and Brunson found each other among the streamers on the court, holding each other’s heads in their hands.
The championship was a second in three seasons for Villanova, cementing coach Jay Wright’s legacy.
The last one against North Carolina in 2016 came down to a wild shot at the buzzer. Villanova rolled over Michigan on Monday night.
It was the largest margin of victory in a title since North Carolina also won by 17, 89-72 against Michigan State in 2009.
Villanova guard Donte DiVincenzo, center, celebrates with teammates after the Wildcats won their second national championship in three seasons. (DAVID J. PHILLIP/AP)
As a young assistant coach at Division III Rochester (N.Y.) in the mid-1980s, Wright knew seeing John Beilein on the recruiting trail spelled trouble.
“John was a Division II head coach,” Wright said, referring to Beilein’s job at LeMoyne. “We would recruit guys all year, then John would wait until the end of the year, because he had the scholarship, we didn't.
“You’d be on a guy and you'd just hope you wouldn't see John in the gym. And in April, he’d pop in and he’d see you. You’d say, ‘Are you going to take him, John?’ He goes, ‘Yeah, I’m sorry, but we’re going to take him.’ ”
Wright laughed as he shared this memory Sunday. On Monday night, Wright coached Belein and Michigan for the national championship.
In the more than 30 years since their first encounters, Wright and Beilein have climbed to the highest rung of the college coaching ladder. Wright is in his 17th season as Villanova’s head coach; Beilein is in his 11th at Michigan. Both coached in their second national final Monday, with Wright winning it all two years ago and Beilein losing to Louisville in 2013.
Their paths have crossed often, and they shared a long hug and pats on the back before the game on the Alamodome sideline.
From 2002-07, Beilein coached West Virginia, which at the time was in the Big East with Villanova. Wright and Beilein forged a respectful friendship. Their wives even became tennis partners during Big East tournament trips in New York.
Donte DiVincenzo scored a game-high 31 points.(CHRIS STEPPIG/AP)
Wright called Beilein “just the nicest guy in the world.”
“Everything you see in John is what you get,” he said. “Greatest guy in the world, man, great coach.”
Beielin joked, “At the end of the game tomorrow, he’ll still look like George Clooney and I will look like Columbo by Peter Falk at the end of that thing. I’d like to say Kevin Costner, but I can't go there.”
Coaching in the tournament seemed hard to imagine when each started at his current gig, Beilein said.
“Villanova had a couple of tough seasons,” Beilein recalled. “He came in to bring Villanova back. And we followed at West Virginia one year later. The first couple of times we played they were great games, that we were both just trying to win a game.”
(c)2017 the Chicago Tribune/Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

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