SAN ANTONIO – Villanova and Michigan might be starting an NCAA title game trend.
The era of traditional big men dominating college hoops is gone. This March Madness is proof that more teams are following the Golden State Warriors model.
Sure, every college coach would love to have a Steph Curry type running the show, but Golden State’s small-ball style works in the NBA because of big men who can shoot.
Michigan’s Moe Wagner, a 6-11 junior, entered Monday’s title game at the Alamodome shooting 39 percent from beyond the arc. Villanova’s frontcourt of 6-9 Eric Paschall and 6-9 Omari Spellman combined for as many three-pointers (seven) as the Wildcats’ starting backcourt in Saturday’s win against Kansas.
“It’s invaluable,” Villanova coach Jay Wright said. “I mean, it’s the toughest thing to guard. And it’s being able to shoot the ball but also … being able to put the ball on floor and create your shot.”
Wright said the Wildcats have never faced an opposing player with Wagner’s size and range. He joked that Michigan’s sharpshooting big man was a more “thinned-down, eating-healthier, a-little-more-skilled” version of former West Virginia star Kevin Pittsnogle, who played for current Michigan coach John Beilein in the Elite Eight in 2005.
“This is Golden State Warriors here,” Beilein said. “This is Draymond Green-type of thing where your guys can shoot it, they can pass it, they can do everything. It’s like we like to play as well, and it’s a great concept.”
Villanova sophomore guard Donte DiVincenzo became the sixth player in the past 40 years with a 30-point NCAA championship game.
DiVincenzo scored 31 points on 10-for-15 shooting, including 5-for-7 from three-point range.
“Honestly, when I got into the game, all I was trying to do was play hard,” DiVincenzo said. “I just wanted to help my team offensively.”
DiVincenzo joined Bill Walton and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar in the rare club of players to crack 30 points while also shooting better than 66 percent from the floor in a Final Four game.
Before him, the last player to score 30 points in a championship game was Miles Simon for Arizona against Kentucky in 1997.
Delany wants new rules
The FBI investigation that revealed massive corruption in college basketball this season put a heavier microscope on how agents are putting the eligibility of college athletes at risk before they become professional players.
So Big Ten Commissioner Jim Delany said Monday in San Antonio that the rules barring players from hiring agents while they are in college needs to change.
“The way the situation is now structured is we’re there but not in control,” Delany said on the Big Ten Network. “I think we’re going to have to liberalize the agent rules in some form or fashion. I think people deserve the right to get good professional advice. I think that needs to be done soon and probably earlier — even earlier than their college career.”
Delany also hopes that the NBA Players’ Association and the league’s owners decide sooner rather than later to end the rule stopping high school players from entering the NBA after graduating.
“There’s got to be more choice for the player, the young player,” he said. “If you’re interested in college, you should have that choice. If you’re interested in professionalizing yourself, you should have that choice.”
• Villanova improved to 4-1 all-time against Michigan, including 2-0 in NCAA tournament games.
• Michigan had won 14 games in a row, the longest streak in the country.
News services contributed to this report.