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Adam Zagoria covers basketball at all levels. He is the author of two books and an award-winning journalist whose articles have appeared in ESPN The Magazine, SLAM, Sheridan Hoops, Sports Illustrated, Basketball Times and in newspapers nationwide.
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Sunday / June 17.
  • Villanova wins second NCAA championship in three years thanks to career night by ‘The Michael Jordan of Delaware’

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    By ADAM ZAGORIA

    SAN ANTONIO — Villanova is cutting down the nets for the second time in three years — and they have “The Michael Jordan of Delaware” to thank for it.

    Donte DiVincenzo, the Wilmington, Del., native given that moniker by head coach Jay Wright, came up huge on the biggest stage in college basketball.

    DiVincenzo scored a game- and career-high 31 points on 10-of-15 shooting to go with 5 rebounds, 3 assists and 2 blocks as Villanova dominated Michigan, 79-62, before 67,831 at the Alamodome to win their second NCAA title in three years. Wright became just the third active Division 1 head coach with two or more rings.

    “There have been so many ups and downs and just being out there and just seeing the confetti fall, and just being able to hug each other and know that we played Villanova basketball tonight,” said DiVincenzo, who was named Most Outstanding Player of the Final Four.”

    “I really can’t get my mind around it,” Wright said of the win. “We never dreamt of this.”

    It was the most points ever by a non-starter in a championship game and it was just the sixth 30-point outing in the NCAA championship in the last 40 years, according to the NCAA.

    After bombing a Final Four record 18 three-pointers in the national semifinal rout of Kansas, Villanova shot just 10-of-27 from beyond the arc in the title game. DiVincenzo, though, was 5-of-7.

    “I was just feeling it offensively,” DiVincenzo said.

    Asked how he’s able to embrace coming off the bench, DiVincenzo said, “I love these guys. I’m not trying to get involved with my personal career because I know the coaches are going to put me in the best situation to succeed. And I had to grow up a lot this year. Early in the year it’s difficult not being a starter, and just knowing the reason why is I know coach’s plan for me, it just made it so much easier.”

    Villanova (36-4) outscored Kansas and Michigan by a combined 33 in the Final Four.

    DiVincenzo scored in double-figures in four of Villanova’s six NCAA Tournament games, scoring 18 against Alabama in the second round, 12 on Texas Tech in the Elite Eight and 15 on Kansas in the national semifinal.

    But he saved his best for the biggest game of the year.

    The 6-foot-5 redshirt sophomore scored 18 points in the first half on 7-of-10 shooting to help Villanova take a 37-28 lead after they trailed by seven points.

    The rest of his teammates combined to shoot 7-of-21 before the break.

    Mikal Bridges scored 15 of his 19 points in the second half for Villanova. Jalen Brunson, the AP National Player of the Year, battled foul trouble and managed just 9 points on 4-of-13 shooting in what may have been his final collegiate game. Omari Spellman added 10 rebounds and 8 points.

    “I can’t put this into words,” Brunson said. “I love my brothers. I love my team. I just love these guys.”

    Moritz Wagner scored only 5 of his 16 points in the second half when he picked up his third foul. Muhammad Ali Abdur-Rahkman led Michigan (33-8) with 23 points.

    Villanova used 21-5 spurt bridging the end of the first half and beginning of the second to take a 51-33 lead on a three-pointer by Bridges.

    After Michigan closed to within 53-40, DiVincenzo scored nine straight points for Villanova — including back-to-back three-pointers — to give the Wildcats a 62-44 lead with under eight minutes remaining.

    That led to a round of “Di-vin-cenzo” chants from the Villanova faithful.

    DiVincenzo added 2 blocks on the defensive end to get the crowd going.

    “I pride myself on defense and just bringing energy to this team,” DiVincenzo said.

    Bridges then scored 8 points — including two three-pointers — during a 10-5 Villanova run that extended the lead to 74-54.

    While Villanova could lose Bridges and Brunson to the NBA, they will return much of their core, including DiVincenzo who figures to be their featured offensive player next season.

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    Adam Zagoria is a Basketball Insider who covers basketball at all levels. A contributor to The New York Times and SportsNet New York (SNY), he is also the author of two books and is an award-winning journalist and filmmaker. His articles have appeared in ESPN The Magazine, SLAM, Sheridan Hoops, Basketball Times and in newspapers nationwide. He also won an Emmy award for his work on the SNY mini-documentary on Syracuse guard Tyus Battle. A veteran Ultimate Frisbee player, he has competed in numerous National and World Championships and, perhaps more importantly, his teams won the Westchester Summer League (WSL) championships in 2011 and 2013. He lives in Manhattan with his wife and children.