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NCAA Championship Game Preview: A Look at the Game Through KenPom's Numbers

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KenPom. Something you hear all the time and it’s growing with each passing year. So, with the biggest game of the year, why not breakdown his numbers for the two teams. Seriously though I can’t stress how much the $20 subscription per year is worth for KenPom’s site. If you like the game and like advanced numbers it’s the best out there.

My biggest takeaway here is expecting a clean game. What I mean by that is take a look at turnover percentage. Both teams do such a good job of taking care of the ball as Michigan ranks 4th in the country in turnover percentage while Nova is 13th. That’s not necessarily a surprise when you look at past history under Beilein and then from the Nova side you remember they have Jalen Brunson. That’s going to be the intriguing matchup for me, simply because of how damn good defensively Zavier Simpson has been over the last 6 weeks or so. Can he bother Brunson enough to be uncomfortable?

One place where there’s a huge mismatch? Believe it or not it’s at the free throw line. Michigan is one of the worst free throw shooting teams in the country. We’ve seen them lose some leads due to that and teams adjust defensively late in games, forcing the game to drag on. If Michigan has the lead late, expect Nova to do just that. Combined with how Nova shoots the ball from three, keep an eye out on late in game situations. That said, don’t expect a whole lot of free throws. Both teams rank sub-300 in getting to the free throw line, mostly due to how they play on the perimeter.

Another key thing to watch? Clearly it’s Villanova shooting the ball from three. More importantly, it’s Michigan defending the 3-point line. The Wolverines are the fifth best team in the country at running teams off the 3-point line. Along with that, they hold teams to 30% from three. Shooting percentage isn’t exactly the best stat here, simply because shooting percentages can be fluky. Hell, just look at Nova’s last two games. They went 16% against Texas Tech and 45% against Kansas. The real number is the fact that Michigan is excellent at running teams off the line. That’s going to be the important thing to watch.

Finally, keep an eye on offensive rebounds. More importantly the lack of them. Both teams don’t necessarily crash the offensive glass. Michigan wants to get back defensively, pretty much just letting Teske/Wagner attack the glass. Nova does pretty much the same, but you’ll see someone like Bridges crash from the wing a bit more than Michigan. If you see a team win the offensive rebounding numbers by a good margin, those free points will go a long way.

All I know is, KenPom numbers or not, this game is going to be awesome.