The Michigan Wolverines were not going to give in to Sister Jean and the Cinderella story that is the Loyola Chicago Ramblers. Despite trailing by seven at the break, the Wolverines ended the improbable run of the Ramblers with a 69-57 win in the Final Four on Saturday night. Moe Wagner led the way with a double-double of 24 points and 15 rebounds for the Wolverines, who trailed by as many as 10 points early on in the second half. Charles Matthews added 17 points, as the Wolverines will take a 14-game win streak into their first National Championship Game since falling to the Louisville Cardinals in 2013. They have not won it all since 1989, as they enter their seventh National Title Game, fifth in the last 30 seasons, and second title game under head coach John Beilein. The Ramblers struggled in the second half, as they could not stop Wagner, and turned the ball over 17 times in the loss. Cameron Krutwig had 17 points, while Clayton Custer added 15 for the Ramblers, who, after holding Michigan to 22 points in the first half, surrendered 47 points in the final 20 minutes. Sister Jean watched on from courtside, and was greeted by multiple Wolverine players after the game, as they congratulated her on all the success that Loyola Chicago has had this month. Meanwhile, Wolverines' run is not yet over, with one more huge step coming Monday night.
Villanova Cruises to Another National Title Game Appearance
The Villanova Wildcats advanced with ease later on Saturday night in San Antonio, cruising past fellow top seed, the Kansas Jayhawks, 95-79. Erich Pashall shot a stellar 10-of-11, including 4-for-5 from the beyond the arc, on the night for a career-high 24 points to lead the Wildcats to their second title game in three years. The Wildcats as a team shot 55 percent from the floor, setting a Final Four record with 18 three-pointers, helping them hold a 15-point lead at halftime. A fairly even second half played in their favor, as both teams got near 50 points in the final 20 minutes. The Wildcats tied the Final Four record for three-pointers with 3:45 left in the first half, before demolishing the mark that was set by UNLV in 1987. They finished with seven players who had at least one three-point field goal in the win. They have also set an NCAA record with 454 three-pointers on the season, with one whole game left to add to that. The previous record was set by VMI in the 2007 season. Villanova attempted 15 more three-pointers than two-pointers in the win, which was the second time they've eliminated the Jayhawks in the tournament in the past three years. Devonte Graham had 23 points on 9-of-18 shooting in a losing effort, as Kansas could not repeat the result from the last time they were in San Antonio, when they cut the nets down 10 years ago. It's Nova who will get the chance to do that on Monday, but they will face a team known for shutting down three-point shooting in the Michigan Wolverines.
Wizards Clinch Playoff Spot in Wall's Return
Saturday was an all-around good day for the Washington Wizards, as they not only welcomed back their star point guard, John Wall, from injury, but also clinched a playoff spot in the Eastern Conference. Wall had a double-double of 15 points and 14 assists in a 107-93 win over the Charlotte Hornets in our nation's capital. The point guard was playing in his first game in two months since undergoing left knee surgery, as he had not played since January 25th. He played 33 minutes on the night, helping his team set a franchise record with 18 three-pointers in the win. Otto Porter Jr. led the way with 26 points and 11 rebounds, while Bradley Beal had 22 points, including going 6-for-8 from three-point range. He also had a stretch of scoring nine straight points, helping Washington keep the Hornets down. Saturday was also the Wizards' first win over the Hornets in four tries this season, despite Dwight Howard finishing with a double-double of 22 points and 13 rebounds, Kemba Walker did struggle with just seven points, failing to reach double figures for just the fourth time this season. The Wizards went 15-12 without Wall, and now currently sit in sixth place in the East, and were just a half game ahead of the Miami Heat and Milwaukee Bucks heading into Saturday. They will look to improve that position when they visit the Chicago Bulls on Sunday afternoon. The Hornets return home on Sunday to host the Philadelphia 76ers.