March Madness: Wagner Ends Loyola's Cinderella Run; Villanova Back In Title Game
After a tournament filled with upsets and busted brackets, this season’s NCAA tournament will end like it has in many other years — with the usual suspects playing for the national title.
No. 3 Michigan will take on No. 1 Villanova on Monday in the Alamodome.
No. 3 Michigan 69, No. 11 Loyola 57
The story of the Loyola Ramblers, and their chaplain nonagenarian Sister Jean, were a fairytale in the making.
But that tale came to a screeching halt thanks to a 6-foot-11 junior from Germany. Moritz Wagner almost single-handedly slammed the book shut on the darlings of the tournament, leading third-seeded Michigan to a 69-57 victory over No. 11-seeded Loyola-Chicago.
And Wagner was unapologetic when asked about ending the feelgood story of the tournament.
“I don’t really like the saying Cinderella story because it always includes somehow that they are not supposed to be here. Offensively, very, very good. And defensively, very solid. So they definitely deserve to be here.” Mortiz scored a game-high 24 points, with 15 rebounds, to help send Michigan to Monday’s national title game.
The Ramblers led by as many as 10 points in the contest. But midway through the second half, Mortiz sparked an 18-6 run that put the Wolverines up for good.
Michigan will now play in its seventh national title game.
No. 1 Villanova 95, No. 1 Kansas 79
The Villanova Wildcats capped off game two of Saturday's NCAA men’s basketball semifinal doubleheader with a rout.
The Wildcats set a Final Four record with 18 3-pointers and only trailed after Udoka Azubuike hit a jumper on the first shot of the game. The Wildcats responded with 11 straight points and never looked back.
Villanova finished the game hitting 55 percent of its shots from the field against 45 percent for Kansas.
“I feel bad for Kansas, they're a great team; we just made every shot — and that happens sometimes, and you just can't depend on that.
"We're just fortunate it happened to us tonight. We shoot them up and we sleep in the street. Sometimes they go in. Sometimes they don't. This is one of those nights where everything went in."
Kansas coach Bill Self agreed.
“That's as good a team as we've played against that I can remember," he said. “... So credit to them, a superior team, and they were superior, obviously handled us today. And they'd be hard for anybody to deal with if they shoot the ball like that.”
Kansas' last trip to the Final Four was in 2008, which was also was held in San Antonio. As for Villanova, which is making its second trip to the title game in three years, Villanova coach Jay Wright said he is simply enjoying the ride.
“Making this run — it’s so exhilarating. You can’t say it’s a dream come true because you don’t even dream about it — you don’t dream about getting two out of three years," he said. "You don’t even think about it. I don’t.”