Michigan Will Battle Villanova In Sweet 16 Matchup

Written By Paul Costanzo on March 21, 2022
Eli Brooks dribbles against Colorado State

The Michigan men’s basketball team has done what it typically does in recent years: turned its play up a notch in the NCAA Tournament.

Michigan has advanced to the Sweet 16 for the fifth straight tournament, and on Thursday it will take on Villanova with an Elite 8 berth on the line.

Tipoff for the South Region semifinal is scheduled for 7:29 p.m. on TBS.

Michigan vs. Villanova betting odds

The second-seeded Wildcats opened as the favorite against the 11-seeded Wolverines.

Michigan is a -point underdog, and listed at on the moneyline.

Villanova is on the moneyline.

Early bets coming into at least one sportsbook are heavy on Villanova, as BetMGM reported Monday morning that Villanova was its third most bet team in the Sweet 16.

Online sports bettors at BetMGM were placing 68% of bets and 78% of the handle on Villanova against the spread.

Villanova led by veterans

The Wildcats feature a balanced attack, as six players average more than 8.5 points per game, and five of those six are juniors or seniors.

Senior guard Collin Gillespie leads the way, averaging 16 points and 3.4 assists per game. He’s a knockdown shooter, hitting 41.6% of his 3-pointers on the season.

Junior guard Justin Moore averages 15 points and 4.9 rebounds per game.

Villanova does not feature much size, as 6-foot-8 sophomore forward Eric Dixon is the tallest of the ‘Cats regulars.

The Wildcats held off a second-half surge from Ohio State to win their second-round game 71-61 this past Sunday. They’re 28-7 on the season with an early-season blowout of Tennessee on their resume. Three of Villanova’s losses came during the nonconference schedule against UCLA, Purdue and Baylor.

Michigan peaking at the right time

Michigan looks to finally be playing to its preseason expectations. It’s tournament wins against Colorado State and Tennessee were the first time Michigan had won back-to-back games since Feb. 8 and 10 when it defeated Penn State and Purdue.

The Wolverines have done it, mostly, without the services of guard DeVante Jones. He missed the tournament opener with a concussion, and left the second-round game against Tennessee because of illness. He figures to be available Thursday.

Hunter Dickinson has been the focal point for the Wolverines in their first two tournament games, putting on a dominant performance against Tennessee with 27 points and 11 rebounds.

With Villanova’s lack of size, don’t be surprised to see Dickinson get plenty of looks again.

But guards have stepped up in Jones’ absence, with Frankie Collins playing strong against Colorado State, and Eli Brooks taking the reins against Tennessee. Brooks finished with 23 points against the Volunteers, including a crucial sky hook in the game’s waning moments.

Photo by Michael Conroy / Associated Press
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Paul Costanzo

Paul Costanzo is a Michigan native and Central Michigan University graduate with more than 20 years of sports writing experience. He has led sports sections in Hillsdale and Port Huron, and while his main focus has been prep sports, he has covered events from ranging from youth leagues to the pros.

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