The Wolverines (33-7) came back from a ten-point second half deficit to end Loyola (IL)’s tournament run, pulling away for a 69-57 win. Loyola (32-6) held a 41-31 lead with 14:08 remaining. Michigan outscored the Ramblers 38-16 from that point. Loyola was hurt by committing five turnovers over a five-minute stretch over which Michigan went on a 16-2 run to take control of the game. 6-11 junior Mo Wagner led the way for Michigan with an impressive 24 points and 15 rebounds. He proved a severe matchup problem for Loyola as he connected on three 3s, and grabbed six offensive boards scoring on follow-ups three times. Michigan had a +5 advantage on the offensive boards and committed six fewer turnovers than Loyola. Charles Matthews added 17 points for Michigan as he was particularly effective taking the ball to the hoop. 6-9 Cameron Krutwig led Loyola with 17 points. He used his big body to post up effectively, especially in the first half but his effectiveness diminished as he committed six turnovers. Clayton Custer added 15 points.
Loyola took a 29-22 lead into halftime as they held Michigan to 2-of-13 from long distance. Teams have had trouble shooting from distance in recent Final Fours played in football stadiums with elevated surfaces. Tonight’s first game was no exception. Loyola shot 1-of-10 from deep while Michigan did connect on some key 3s in the second half and ended up shooting a less than stellar 7-of-28 from deep. Loyola was more effective in the first half taking the ball to the basket while Michigan settled for three-pointers. That situation changed in the last 14 minutes of the game as Michigan started penetrating effectively while Loyola was prone to turnovers. The Wolverine had a 47-28 scoring advantage in the second half.
In the second game Villanova (35-4) came out hot and stayed that way pulling away early and not letting Kansas (31-8) back into the game in a 95-79 Wildcat win. Villanova connected on 18-of-40 three-pointers in what was likely the best shooting performance at a Final Four in a football stadium. Eric Paschall made 10-of-11 shots and led the Wildcats with 24 points. Omari Spellman chipped in with 15 points and 13 rebounds while Jalen Brunson added 18 points with six assists and only two turnovers. Devonte Graham Malik Newman led Kansas with 23 points while Malik Newman added 21.
Villanova came out of the gate hot and quickly took a 22-4 lead, hitting six three-pointers in the first six minutes. The Wildcats made 10 three-pointers and took 18 attempts from distance before Kansas attempted their first three. Villanova connected on 13-of-26 from deep and scored 39 of their 47 points from distance. They didn’t attempt any free throws but that didn’t matter as their hot shooting propelled them to a 47-32 halftime lead.
Brunson connected on three from deep and led Villanova with 13 points at the half. Graham led Kansas with ten points. Silvio De Sousa had a strong six minutes with seven points and five rebounds to help keep the Jayhawks relatively close.
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