2. Defense is elite
Before the season, the Wolverines’ defense was a major question mark. This team lost some key pieces such as DJ Wilson and Derrick Walton Jr. from a season ago and the defense also seemed to take a hit with their departures.
There were some quality pieces returning, but Michigan seemed like a more offensive-oriented team with Kentucky-transfer Charles Matthews becoming eligible, Mo Wagner, Muhammad-Ali Abdur-Rahkman, Duncan Robinson and some incoming freshmen, but their defense has been a pleasant surprise.
John Beilein’s team prides itself on the defense and that was evident when the players were angry at the All-Big Ten defensive team snubs. That’s the sign of a selfless team with guys who play for one another and don’t care about stats, but rather wins.
The Wolverines allow 62.9 points per game which is the eighth-best mark in college basketball this season and they’ve only given up over 70 once in this year’s tournament. Villanova scores at a high rate, but the Wildcats may have met their match in the Wolverines’ elite defense.