No. 2 Villanova beats Michigan, advances to Elite Eight

SAN ANTONIO (AP) — Jermaine Samuels scored 22 points and Villanova controlled Michigan in a 63-55 Sweet 16 victory on Thursday night in the NCAA Tournament.

Samuels’ 8-of-13 shooting performance, much of it coming on tough drives through Michigan defenders and around center Hunter Dickinson, carried a Wildcats offense that had long stretches of misfiring on 3-pointers.

Samuels battled Dickinson on both ends of the court, and challenged the big man every time he had the ball to divert shots or force outlet passes.

“I just wanted to stay mobile and move,” Samuels said. “He’s a phenomenal player, so he’s going to get great looks at the basket. But that I have teammates behind me gave me all the confidence I needed.”

The second-seeded Wildcats (28-7) advanced to the South Region final to play the winner of Thursday night’s matchup between top seed Arizona and No. 5 seed Houston. It’s the deepest run in the tournament for Villanova since coach Jay Wright won the second of his two national titles in 2018.

The loss ends a turbulent season for the Wolverines (19-15) and coach Juwan Howard, whose team squeaked into the tournament field only to shine in the first two rounds. Howard was suspended for five games late in the season for hitting a Wisconsin assistant during a postgame handshake line.

“We learned a lot (about) who we are,” Howard said. We always talk about Michigan being a family. We’ve been the most connected group this year because of the fact everyone has been supporting each other. When I walk away from this season, and I look back, there’s no reason not to hold your head up high.”

Villanova twice led by nine in the second half, but the Wolverines matched their 3-point shooting in spurts and made it a contest. Guard Eli Brooks kept rescuing Michigan with 3-pointers, making 3 of 5. One of Brooks’ treys, plus two free throws from Terrance Williams II, had the Wolverines within 54-50 with just over 3 minutes left.

But after Dickinson, who led the Wolverines with 15 points and 15 rebounds, missed near the basket, Samuels blew by him on the other end for a layup. Collin Gillespie followed it with a 3-pointer — his fourth of the game — from the left wing to make it 59-50 with 1:52 to play.

That was the cushion the Wildcats needed, as Michigan closed within six points before Samuels made four three throws over the final 13 seconds to put it away.

Defensively, Villanova refused to yield space under the basket to the 7-foot-1 Dickinson, who came in averaging 24 points in Michigan’s two NCAA Tournament wins.

Justin Moore scored 15 points and Gillespie scored 12 for Villanova.

“We asked a lot of (Samuels) him on the defensive end guarding Dickinson a lot. And then on the offensive end, we’re trying to move Dickinson around,” Wright said. “Which it sounds good unless you’re guy that’s got to go. You’re running around, setting screens, cutting to make him follow you… He never wanted to come out.”


Michigan: Guard DeVante’ Jones started 32 games this season but missed the Wolverines’ first-round game against Colorado State because of concussion protocols, and was held out of the second half of the second-round win over Tennessee when his symptoms returned.

Jones scored seven and had five rebounds also left the game briefly in the second half when he fell hard to the floor chasing a loose ball.

Villanova: The Wildcats have been launching 3-pointers all season and there was nothing to determine them when they weren’t falling against the Wolverines. The Wildcats were 9 of 30 from long range — their ninth game this season with at least 30 attempts. The most was 50 in a win over Syracuse.


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