Villanova vs. Michigan 2018: Championship Odds Tips, Predictions for Key Players

Joe Tansey@JTansey90Featured ColumnistApril 1, 2018

SAN ANTONIO, TX - MARCH 31:  Jalen Brunson #1 of the Villanova Wildcats is defended by Devonte' Graham #4 of the Kansas Jayhawks in the second half during the 2018 NCAA Men's Final Four Semifinal at the Alamodome on March 31, 2018 in San Antonio, Texas.  (Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images)
Tom Pennington/Getty Images

All signs are pointing toward a dominant performance by the No. 1 Villanova Wildcats in Monday's National Championship at the Alamodome in San Antonio.

The Wildcats cruised through their first five games in the 2018 NCAA men's basketball tournament, while No. 3 Michigan faced a few road blocks on its path to Monday's title tilt.

The oddsmakers wasted little time throwing their full confidence behind Villanova, as it opened as a seven-point favorite, according to OddsShark.

While it may seem difficult to predict a large margin of victory for Monday's game given the way both teams have played, it's not out of the realm of possibility.

    

Odds Advice

Embrace Villanova As A Heavy Favorite

Villanova opened as a 6.5-point favorite against Michigan, with some lines already up to seven in favor of the Wildcats.

The spread is the largest for the National Championship since 2012, and it is only the 10th time a team has been favored by that much, per ESPN's Chris Fallica:

The Wildcats won each of their five NCAA tournament games by double digits, with the latest triumph over No. 1 Kansas being a 16-point victory.

Although it may be hard to embrace the Wildcats as a heavy favorite, Jay Wright's team is more than deserving of the recognition.

Since the start of Big East play, Villanova has won by less than 10 points in regulation on three occasions, with two of them coming against Marquette and the other versus St. John's.

Two overtime wins over Seton Hall and Providence mark the only times the Wildcats had a margin of victory of 10 points or less since the beginning of February.

Eric Gay/Associated Press

During their 14-game winning streak, the Wolverines have five victories of 10 points or less, with only two results featuring a margin of victory of 20 points or more.

While it is easy to be skeptical of the line given Michigan's recent performances, four of its seven losses came by more than seven points, including an early-season showdown with North Carolina.

If Villanova wins its second championship in three years, it has a good chance of covering based off trends set by both teams.

   

Key Player Predictions

Moritz Wagner: 18 points, 8 rebounds 

Few teams have been able to silence Michigan forward Moritz Wagner, but it's not an impossible task, as he struggled as recently as the first-round game against No. 14 Montana.

Since his five-point performance to start the Big Dance, Wagner is averaging 17.2 points per game, with 24 coming as part of a double-double in the Final Four win over No. 11 Loyola-Chicago.

Alex Gallardo/Associated Press

Although he is going to face a difficult matchup against Omari Spellman, Eric Paschall and Dhamir Cosby-Roundtree, Wagner carries plenty of experience against the top programs in the nation.

Wagner averaged 16.7 points in seven games versus ranked opposition, with a pair of 20-point performances coming against North Carolina and Michigan State.

On Michigan's road to the Big Ten tournament championship, Wagner produced 15 points in the semifinal win over Michigan State and 17 in the final in his third game opposing Purdue in conference play.

The 20-year-old is going to have plenty of opportunities to score as well, as he attempted nine shots or more in six of his last seven games.

Expect Wagner to once again be in the spotlight for the Wolverines, but he needs to receive more from his supporting cast in order to leave San Antonio as a national champion.

      

Jalen Brunson: 16 points, 7 assists, 3 rebounds

Jalen Brunson is Villanova's unquestioned leader, but he is far from the lone star on the roster.

Brunson thrives from three-point range and in the assists column, as he shows no fear attacking the basket and dishing to the open man.

The point guard reached 12 points and four assists in each of his five NCAA tournament games on the way to Monday's title clash.

The largest output from the junior came in the Sweet 16, as he torched No. 5 West Virginia for 27 points and four assists.

SAN ANTONIO, TX - MARCH 31:  Jalen Brunson #1 of the Villanova Wildcats handles the ball on offense against the Kansas Jayhawks in the first half during the 2018 NCAA Men's Final Four Semifinal at the Alamodome on March 31, 2018 in San Antonio, Texas.  (P
Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

While it is a safe bet to assume Brunson reaches double digits in points, like he has in every game this season, he might not be the Wildcats' top scorer when the final buzzer sounds.

With five other players capable of reaching double digits, and even eclipsing the 20-point mark, Brunson doesn't have a massive amount of pressure on his shoulders to score entering Monday.

Expect the Villanova point guard to ease into the game, as he provides his teammates with a calming force on the opening possessions.

If the Wildcats settle into a rhythm, and other players knock down shots, Brunson can focus more on distributing the ball.

But if Villanova struggles at first from three-point range, Brunson should take charge and steady the ship by making a few big shots.

     

Follow Joe on Twitter, @JTansey90.

Statistics obtained from ESPN.com.

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