March Madness 2018: The All-Tournament Team After the National Championship
Before we can put a bow on Villanova's 2018 national championship and start looking ahead to who the top teams will be in 2019, we need to take a moment to remember all the players who had a great run through the past three weeks by naming our first and second teams of the NCAA tournament.
The Wildcats stormed through the tournament to another national championship. They beat each opponent by at least a 12-point margin, so it should come as no surprise that they are well-represented on Bleacher Report's All-Tournament Team. In fact, 60 percent of our first team comes from the national champions, and you could make a solid argument that two other Wildcats belong on this list.
To even be considered for a spot on the first or second team, players must have at least made it to the Elite Eight. Guys like Gabe DeVoe, Shai Gilgeous-Alexander and Rob Gray Jr. had impressive performances in the first few rounds, but to properly represent excellence in the tournament, they would have needed deeper runs.
Moreover, only players who reached the Final Four were eligible for the first team. And yet, there were plenty of great options to fill out these 10 spots.
Marvin Bagley III, Duke
Tournament Stats: 20.5 PPG, 8.3 RPG, 1.3 APG, 68.9% FG
Bagley's disappearing act in the Elite Eight against Kansas was bizarre, given how dominant he was in the first three rounds and considering the Jayhawks had Svi Mykhailiuk guarding him for most of the night. Nevertheless, Duke's one-and-done star had at least 16 points and seven rebounds in each tournament game, averaging 22.1 points and 11.1 rebounds in his seven games played in March.
Keenan Evans, Texas Tech
Tournament Stats: 18.3 PPG, 3.5 APG, 2.5 RPG, 38.5% 3PT
No player in the country was more important to his team's success during the regular season than Texas Tech's Evans, and that continued into the NCAA tournament. Despite playing with a broken toe, he was one of the biggest stars of the first weekend of the tourney, scoring 45 points in a pair of games that were tight throughout. At full strength, he might have been able to carry the Red Raiders to victory over the Villanova Wildcats in the Elite Eight.
Barry Brown, Kansas State
Tournament Stats: 15.8 PPG. 3.5 RPG, 2.0 APG, 1.8 SPG
There was nothing efficient about Brown needing 58 field-goal attempts to score 63 points and his 13 turnovers in the process, but there's no question he was the driving force of Kansas State's low-scoring, defense-fueled run to the Elite Eight. Assuming he comes back for his senior season, the Wildcats ought to be ranked in the Top 20 of the preseason AP poll for just the second time since 1976.
Charles Matthews, Michigan
Tournament Stats: 14.8 PPG, 6.2 RPG, 1.2 SPG, 1.2 APG
Matthews struggled throughout Big Ten play. Including Michigan's four wins in the conference tournament, he did not once score more than 16 points against a Big Ten opponent in 22 tries—and he needed an overtime period against Iowa to get that lone 16-point performance. But while everyone pushed the narrative about Big Ten players getting rusty during the long break between the conference and NCAA tournaments, Matthews used that time off to find himself. He scored at least 17 points in four of Michigan's first five games of the Big Dance.
Devonte' Graham, Kansas
Tournament Stats: 17.4 PPG, 5.6 APG, 4.6 RPG, 1.4 SPG, 36.4% 3PT
Perhaps it was fatigue from playing nearly 38 minutes per game for more than four months, but Graham struggled to find his stroke in the tournament. Despite shooting just 38.0 percent from the field, though, the senior leader was one of the biggest reasons Kansas made it to the Final Four. And once there, he led the Jayhawks with 23 points, albeit in a hopeless effort against Villanova's three-point barrage.
First Team: Mikal Bridges, Villanova
Tournament Stats: 15.5 PPG, 4.5 RPG, 1.0 SPG, 44.4% 3PT
By the Numbers: Villanova didn't use Mikal Bridges quite as much as it did during the regular season or the Big East tournament, but he made his presence felt on a nightly basis. Bridges scored at least 10 points in each game while also filling up the box score, per usual. In the Final Four win over Kansas, he had three rebounds, two assists, two blocks and two steals.
Shining Moment: The Wildcats didn't face much adversity in this tournament, but they were only up 32-27 at halftime of the second-round game against Alabama. That's when Bridges took over. He scored 19 of Villanova's first 21 points of the second half and did so in the span of just five-and-a-half minutes. He also blocked a pair of shots during a sequence in which the Wildcats raced to a 22-point lead in the blink of an eye.
What's Next: One of the biggest reasons Villanova has been so great for the past five years is because head coach Jay Wright has recruited four-year players who are perfect for his system. No Wildcat has left early for the NBA since Dominic Cheek and Maalik Wayns in 2012—neither of them got drafted, for what it's worth. But Bridges is almost certainly going to be an exception to that rule, as it might be impossible to find a mock draft that doesn't have him projected as a lottery pick.
First Team: Jalen Brunson, Villanova
Tournament Stats: 16.2 PPG, 4.0 APG, 2.8 RPG, 1.3 SPG. 37.5% 3PT
By the Numbers: As was the case all season long, Jalen Brunson was Mr. Reliable for the Wildcats. Save for the 27-point performance against the West Virginia Mountaineers in the Sweet 16, he didn't have any out-of-this-world box scores. But he did put up at least 12 points and four assists in each of the first five games before running into foul trouble in the natty. His true impact can't be captured by the numbers, though, as his unflappable play at point guard paced this remarkable run.
Shining Moment: West Virginia was the only team to give Villanova a real scare. The Mountaineers led the Wildcats by six with 11 minutes remaining. That's when Brunson put the team on his back. Villanova went on a 22-6 run in the span of five-and-a-half minutes, in which Brunson had seven points and three assists. It was a perfect example of his knack for taking over when the team needed him the most.
What's Next: There is not a more intriguing draft-declaration decision this year than Brunson's. Normally, non-senior first-team All-Americans are locks to declare for the draft, and we're lucky if any second-team players decide to return for another year. But Brunson might surprise us by coming back, even though he has been named the National Player of the Year by just about everyone. He could improve his borderline first-round draft stock by doing so.
And if he can guide Villanova to yet another season with at least 32 wins—not to mention the possibility of a third trip to the national championship—he would go down as one of the greatest players in college basketball history.
First Team: Donte DiVincenzo, Villanova
Tournament Stats: 15.0 PPG, 5.5 RPG, 3.7 APG, 50.0% 3PT
By the Numbers: What Donte DiVincenzo did off the bench as Villanova's unofficial sixth starter has to be some kind of record. He scored 18 points in the first half of a tournament game not once, but twice. He did it against Alabama in the second round and again in the national championship win over Michigan. Against the Crimson Tide, that was the end of his scoring. Against the Wolverines, however, he put up a baker's dozen more in the second half and finished with 31, which by the way, is a scoring record in the tournament for a player coming off the bench.
Shining Moment: DiVincenzo made 17 three-pointers, each of which felt like an absolute dagger to the opposing team's slim hopes of defeating Villanova. His biggest moment wasn't a deep ball, though. Rather, it was two points that he kept the other team from scoring. Midway through the second half against Michigan, DiVincenzo went up strong and completely shut down Charles Matthews' attempted dunk.
What's Next: Prior to Monday night, no one was talking about DiVincenzo as one of Villanova's players who might leave early for the NBA. Scoring 31 points on the game's biggest stage may change that, though. Chances are he'll be back next year, and he should get some votes for preseason first team All-American. At the very least, he'll finally be a full-time starter as a senior.
First Team: Malik Newman, Kansas
Tournament Stats: 21.6 PPG, 6.2 RPG, 2.0 APG, 1.2 SPG, 44.1% 3PT
By the Numbers: Prior to the Big 12 tournament, Malik Newman had averaged just 11.7 points per game for his career, shooting 41.5 percent from the field. 247Sports' composite rankings had him as the eighth-best recruit in the 2015 class; however, he couldn't seem to tap into that potential on a regular basis for his first 60 games. But he was sensational this postseason, scoring at least 20 points in six of eight games (including Big 12 tourney) and shooting at least 51 percent both inside the arc and beyond it.
Shining Moment: The overtime period against Duke was the Malik Newman Show. He scored each and every one of Kansas's 13 points in the extra session. He also had two steals and drew a total of five fouls in those five minutes. Not since Kemba Walker has a player put the team on his back like that in the NCAA tournament.
What's Next: One month ago, the idea of Newman declaring for the draft would have been slightly absurd. No one was projecting the inconsistent third-year sophomore as a first-round pick. But after a few weeks of watching him dominate the way he used to in AAU ball, his stock has never been higher. His decision may determine whether Kansas is the clear-cut preseason No. 1 team or just one of the contenders in the Top Five.
First Team: Moritz Wagner, Michigan
Tournament Stats: 15.0 PPG, 7.3 RPG, 1.3 APG, 1.2 SPG, 38.5% 3PT
By the Numbers: Only three players in the past 40 seasons have put up at least 20 points and 15 rebounds in a national semifinal: Larry Bird (35 and 16) in 1979, Hakeem Olajuwon (21 and 22) in 1983 and now Moritz Wagner (24 and 15). Poor Loyola-Chicago had no answer for Michigan's big man, who even recorded three steals on his magical night.
Shining Moment: The entire Final Four game against the Ramblers felt like Wagner's shining moment, but the highlight of the night wasn't one of his 24 points or his 15 rebounds. Rather, it was his lone assist of the game. One of the biggest buckets of Michigan's 19-4 run late in the second half was a Matthews reverse layup that Wagner set up with a perfect left-handed bounce pass. That type of vision and dexterity should be illegal for 6'11" centers with three-point range.
What's Next: Similar to just about everyone on this list, Wagner has a tough decision to make in the next couple of weeks. Most of the draft experts have him going either in the last five picks of the first round or early in the second round. But could this stretch 5 follow in the footsteps of Frank Kaminsky by coming back for a senior season and climbing into the top 10 of next year's draft?