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Michigan ends Cinderella's run, keeps $1M bet alive for title game vs. Villanova

  

March 31, 2018 07:41 PM

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Michigan's Mo Wagner did damage on the court and off the court in a 69-57 victory over Loyola.
© USA Today Sports Images

From staff and wire reports

Moe Wagner, Charles Matthews and Michigan erased a 10-point second-half deficit and the Wolverines ended Loyola-Chicago’s storybook NCAA Tournament run with a 69-57 victory Saturday night in the Final Four.

Michigan will play Villanova for its first NCAA crown since 1989 on Monday night at the Alamodome. Villanova routed Kansas 95-79 in the second game Saturday.

Villanova opened as a 6.5-point favorite vs. Michigan. The total opened at 143.5.

The third-seeded Wolverines (33-7) will take a 14-game winning streak into their first national championship game appearance since 2013, and second under coach Jon Beilein.

The Wolverines covered the closing number of -5.5 points, and the total was 129.5 at the South Point sports book in Las Vegas, so Under supporters won at 126.

Michigan's victory also kept Derek Stevens' $1 million futures ticket alive. Stevens, owner of The D Hotel in Las Vegas, bet $25,000 on Michigan to win the NCAA title at 40-1 before the tournament started.

Lovable Loyola (32-6), with superfan Sister Jean courtside and their fans behind the bench standing for pretty much the entire game, could not conjure another upset. The Ramblers were the fourth 11th-seeded team to make it this far and like the previous three, the semifinals were the end of the road.

Loyola had no answers for the 6-foot-11 Wagner and its offense, so smooth and efficient on the way to San Antonio, broke down in the second half and finished with 17 turnovers.

Wagner, playing in front of his parents who made the trip from Germany, scored 24 points, had 15 rebounds and was 10 for 16 from the field. Matthews, the Kentucky transfer and Chicago native, added 17 points, including a run-out dunk with 1:33 left that made it 63-53.

And that was that.

As the seconds ticked off, Wagner pumped his fist to the many Michigan fans who made the trek to San Antonio and Loyola’s Aundre Jackson, who got the Ramblers rolling with a late game-winning 3 in the first round against Miami, looked toward the roof and shook his head.

In the second game, Villanova moved within a win of another title, sinking a Final Four-record 18 3-pointers, while cementing itself as the most-prolific 3-point-shooting team in college history in a runaway over Kansas.

"Well, that was just one of those nights," Villanova coach Jay Wright said.

Villanova easily covered as the 5-point favorite vs. Kansas and the total (155) went Over.

Normally the third or fourth option on a team full of shooters, junior wingman Eric Paschall led the barrage, going 4 for 5 from 3, 10 for 11 overall, and finishing with a career-high 24 points.

But the hoop was as wide as the Alamodome for pretty much everyone in a Wildcats jersey.

Seven 'Nova players made 3s. Villanova tied the Final Four record for 3s in game with 3:45 left in the first half. The Wildcats shot 45 percent from 3 — 5 points higher than their season average, which ranked 15th in the nation this season.

Next up is Michigan, which will try to guard the perimeter Monday night when Villanova (35-5) goes for its second title in three seasons.

Good luck with that.

Nobody has had much success this season, and in what turned out to be an unexpectedly lopsided matchup between top seeds, Kansas (31-8) certainly didn't Saturday night. AP Player of the Year Jalen Brunson made three 3s and finished with 18 points. Omari Spellman made three, as well, in a 15-point, 13-rebound monster game.

"As good a team as I've played against that I can remember," Kansas coach Bill Self said. "We got spread out on defense. The game plan went to crap. You get caught in between on defense, and it's the worst thing you can do."

About the only drama in the second half was whether the Wildcats would top Loyola Marymount's NCAA Tournament record of 21 3-pointers in a game (against Michigan in 1990). Didn't happen, mainly because they didn't need it too.

But there's still Monday.

"They'll be hard for anyone to deal with," Self said, "if they shoot the ball like that."

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