Previewing the National Championship Rematch


Courtesy of Villanova Athletics

Previewing the National Championship Rematch

Tyler Kemp

In a matter of almost a week, the men’s basketball team will have its first true test of the season as the Wildcats will square off with Michigan in the Finneran Pavilion on Nov. 14 at 6:30 p.m. This is the National Championship rematch from this past April when the Wildcats defeated the Wolverines, 79-62, behind Donte DiVincenzo’s 31-point, Most Outstanding Player performance. But this matchup will be totally different from the teams that both fan bases saw seven months ago. Here are three things to look out for in the 2018-19 rendition of “The Rematch”

Out with the Old…

Both teams went through some major changes throughout this past college basketball offseason. On the Michigan side, star players such as Moritz Wagner, Muhammad Ali Abdur-Rakhman, and Duncan Robinson have all graduated and moved on to the NBA/NBA G League. These three combined for 36.7 points per game, which is nearly 50% of the scoring production from last season’s Wolverine squad. On the other hand, Villanova lost its core four, DiVincenzo, Mikal Bridges, Omari Spellman, and Jalen Brunson, all to the NBA draft. These four accounted for 61 points per game, almost 70% of the scoring for the Cats last season. This raises the question: who is going to get buckets for both teams

And In With the New

While the Wolverines lost half of their scoring punch from last season, the other 50% is all returning for another shot at revenge on the Main Line. Some of the names to look out for for Michigan include: Senior guard Charles Matthews who emerged during the NCAA Tournament, junior guard Zavier Simpson, and sophomore guard Jordan Poole who hit a game winning shot against Houston in the second round of last year’s tournament. For the Wildcats, there are some veteran names as well as newcomers who are expected to make an impact in the rematch. Senior captains Phil Booth and Eric Paschall both averaged 10+ points per game last season as complimentary players to the core four, but they will now have to step up and take on more of the scoring load. Expect some of the new guys from the 2018 recruiting class (Jahvon Quinerly, Cole Swider, Brandon Slater and Saddiq Bey) to get some run in their first taste of a top 25 matchup.

More Than One Game

Just because the Wildcats and Wolverines finished last season ranked #1 and #2, respectively, that does not equate to receiving the same national ranking to open the 2018-19 regular season. Villanova opens the season at #9 in the country, and Michigan opens the season at #19. With so many matchups between ranked teams to open the first couple of weeks of the new season, this will be a good measuring stick for both teams in how they fare against a fellow perennial conference and national contender. The Pavilion will be rocking on Wednesday, Nov. 14 as the top two teams in college basketball back in 2018 look to defend their places among the top of totem pole.