Villanova tonight will seek its second NCAA basketball championship in three seasons. Sports Tonight returns to give insight as to where to go for the best coverage of the Wildcats before they play Michigan in the title game in San Antonio.
When, where and how to view the action
No. 1 seed Villanova (35-4) vs. No. 3 seed Michigan (33-7)
Time: 9:20 p.m.
Television: National broadcast, TBS (announcers Jim Nantz, Grant Hill, Bill Raftery, Tracy Wolfson); Villanova teamcast, TruTV (announcers Scott Graham, Randy Foye, Kacie McDonnell); Michigan teamcast, TNT (announcers Matt Park, Jay Feely, Dr. Sanjay Gupta — yep, that guy), if you are at all interested.
Radio: WTEL, 610-AM (announcers Ryan Fannon and Whitey Rigsby).
What I’m reading about the NCAA final
Columnist Mike Sielski discusses how Eric Paschall landed at Villanova.
Columnist Bob Ford writes that Villanova star Mikal Bridges will put the team first again in his last game.
Villanova beat writer Joe Juliano notes that Villanova coach Jay Wright is his third Final Four but it’s not old hat.
Staff writer Mike Jensen writes about Michigan coach John Beilein, his history with Villanova coach Jay Wright, and an almost connection to the Main Line.
Columnist Marcus Hayes details how Villanova legendary coach Rollie Massimino will always be an influence on the Wildcats program.
Joe Juliano sets up the matchup between Villanova and Michigan.
James Hawkins of the Detroit News sets up the matchup between Michigan and Villanova.
Nick Baumgardner of the Detroit Free Press says Michigan is not intimidated by Villanova.
The NCAA says “The Fab Five” never played. Michigan coach John Beilein disagrees.
The riff on Villanova
Later this spring, Phil Booth, Mikal Bridges and Jalen Brunson will walk with fellow members of the 2018 graduating class at Villanova University and receive their diplomas.
The three are the only basketball players in school history who will have played in two NCAA championship games.
If the Wildcats defeat Michigan tonight, Brunson, Bridges and Booth each will graduate with two NCAA titles, three Big East tournament championships, and at least 100 victories.
That is the type of legacy that would make for a historic “Senior Day” for Villanova basketball.
There is, however, a good possibility that none of the three will experience a Senior Day celebration, even though all will have their degrees.
Bridges and Booth are redshirt juniors, meaning they have another year of basketball eligibility remaining, but both have spent four academic years at Villanova. Brunson is a true junior but has completed the course work to graduate in three years.
Bridges is projected as a lottery pick in the 2018 NBA draft.
There is no logical reason for Bridges, with a degree in hand, to return to college and risk hurting his draft position. Coach Jay Wright would probably bar him from campus if he tried.
Brunson’s NBA stock is rising after stellar performances during the NCAA tournament. It’s actually just been the continuation of a season that has resulted in his becoming the consensus NCAA Player of the Year.
The recent talk is that Brunson could move up and be a late first-round selection. This is likely the hottest he will be as a prospect. With his degree secured, why come back for a senior season?
Booth isn’t likely to be drafted in 2018 or 2019. His path to the NBA will start in the G-League or a league overseas. The only question for Booth is whether he wants to begin that journey now or wait a year.
Bridges, Brunson and Booth represent the best of what we see in student-athletes. The irony is that because of that, they likely won’t have a traditional “Senior Day” celebration with Villanova basketball.