NCAA Latest: Not much public faith in Michigan upset of Nova
SAN ANTONIO (AP) The Latest on the championship of the NCAA Tournament (all times local):
Turner Sports and CBS Sports officials say the two Final Four games drew an average of 13.4 million viewers across the cable networks and primary streaming app where it aired.
That’s down from an average of 16.8 million viewers who watched the national semifinal games on the broadcast flagship CBS last year. Gonzaga beat South Carolina and North Carolina beat Oregon, both in close games, last year in what was the second-most viewed Final Four in the last 19 years.
Michigan’s win over Loyola-Chicago and Villanova’s defeat of Kansas aired on TBS as well as TNT and truTV, which carried team-specific telecasts. The games were also streamed on March Madness Live. Michigan pulled away late to be beat Loyola 69-57, and then the Wildcats blew out the Jayhawks 95-79 in a game that was never close.
Network officials say the numbers are up compared with two years ago, when the Final Four last aired on cable rather than CBS.
The memory that stands out for Duncan Robinson from playing in the 2014 NCAA Division III Final Four with Williams College was losing the championship game after Wisconsin-Whitewater made a layup in the final second.
Robinson, now a Michigan senior, is the only player who has played in both the Division I and Division III Final Fours. And now he gets another title shot when the Wolverines take on Villanova.
”As far as my freshman year … when you go through something like that, a championship run, you’re kind of forged together for, hopefully, life,” Robinson said. ”Those guys on that team my freshman year are still some of my closest friends, as I know these guys on this team will be as well.”
Robinson scored 9 points for Michigan in the national semifinal win over Loyola-Chicago.
When Villanova’s Jalen Brunson and Michigan guard Charles Matthews were high school standouts in Illinois, Brunson beat out Matthews for the state’s Mr. Basketball award.
Brunson and Matthews are contending for the same trophy again – the NCAA national championship.
”He deserved it, he won the championship,” Matthews said.
Sure, Matthews would have liked to win the high school honors back in 2015.
”I would rather win a title,” said Matthews, who in five NCAA Tournament games has led the Wolverines with 16.6 points per game.
Third-seeded Michigan doesn’t have much support from the public when it comes to pulling off an upset of No. 1 seed Villanova.
Oddsmakers in Las Vegas set the opening line for the championship game favoring Villanova by 5 1/2 points, and gamblers quickly pushed that to 6 1/2 points by backing the Wildcats. Sports book data compiled by Pregame.com shows bettors are overwhelmingly backing Villanova in every respect, whether gambling on the spread or the money line. There also appears to be consensus between sharps and casual bettors.
Only about 3 percent of brackets filled out on Yahoo and ESPN platforms selected Michigan as a title winner, while Villanova was the most popular champion on Yahoo and just behind Virginia as the most likely pick for champion before the tournament began.
Michigan has made a shift in recent years to transform into one of the country’s best defensive teams. Villanova is dropping 3-pointers like pop-a-shot and making teams look far less skilled.
Both teams are preparing Sunday for the final game of the NCAA Tournament, as March Madness bleeds into April for the championship game on Monday night.
Michigan (33-7) got here by ousting Loyola-Chicago in the Final Four on Saturday night, sending home Sister Jean and her Ramblers, the fan-favorite underdogs.
Villanova (35-4) turned a highly-anticipated matchup against fellow No. 1 seed Kansas into a rout, making a Final Four record 18 3-pointers and also becoming the most prolific long-range shooting team in NCAA history with 442 makes.
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