After the second NBA-range three-pointer fell through the net in less than a minute, Donte DiVincenzo bounded back on defense with pep in his step but no emotion on his face.
The reserve guard finally marinated in the moment when a timeout was called and he earned not one but two chest bumps from teammates. He thrust an arm into the air, pointing toward the vast Villanova cheering section behind the team bench.
“Di-Vin-Cen-zo!” the Wildcats fans roared inside the Alamodome. “Di-Vin-Cen-zo!”
They can say that again. The Big East Conference’s sixth man of the year was the primary factor in the top-seeded Wildcats’ 79-62 conquest of third-seeded Michigan on Monday night in the NCAA tournament’s championship game.
The first net cut down Monday night will be the one closest to the Michigan bench inside the Alamodome.
It’s just a bit of protocol predetermined by NCAA officials, but Wolverines fans can hope it’s a good omen for their upset bid in the national championship game.
Villanova is a 6½-point favorite widely expected to win a second NCAA tournament title in three years without the need for a buzzer-beating three-pointer to match the one that Kris Jenkins made against North Carolina in 2016.
The Wildcats take and make so many three-pointers that their games can feel ilke a two-hour shootaround. The only difference is that there’s another team trying and often failing to stop them.
Villanova has set new records for three-pointers in a Final Four game (18), an NCAA tournament (66) and a season by an NCAA Division I team (454).
But Michigan has the better defense and the longer winning streak in his favor; the Wolverines have won 14 consecutive games, last losing to Northwestern on Feb. 6.
No matter what happens Monday, the last team to beat Michigan this season will be the Wildcats.