SAN ANTONIO — Collin Gillespie, Jermaine Samuels and Villanova are again within the town of the Alamo for the primary time since successful the nationwide championship there 4 years in the past. Even the opponent is similar, regardless that in a unique enviornment for this moderately surprising Sweet 16 matchup towards Michigan.
Gillespie and Samuels, true newbies all through that 2018 NCAA Tournament name run, at the moment are graduate scholars and four-year starters who were given an additional season of eligibility on account of the pandemic.
“We were just role guys on a team with six guys who had been in big games before. So we learned a lot from those guys and the preparation that it takes to get to that point,” Gillespie mentioned Wednesday. “Now that we’re back in San Antonio, it doesn’t really … like the two don’t really correlate.”
Gillespie, a third-team All-American and the Wildcats’ main scorer at 16 issues in step with recreation, has began 121 video games since having 4 issues and 5 rebounds in 20 mins all through that 2018 name recreation. Samuels solely were given at the flooring for the general 10 seconds of the 79-62 win, however has since began 110 video games.
“Different situation. Just same place, same team, entirely different team,” Samuels mentioned. “But it is pretty cool to see how things lined up.”
Second-seeded Villanova (28-7) and No. 11 seed Michigan (19-14) meet in a South Region semifinal Thursday night time at AT&T Center, the house of the NBA’s San Antonio Spurs about 3 miles from the Alamodome that hosted the 2018 name recreation. The Wildcats have been additionally the 2016 champs, in Houston, about 200 miles away.
Top seed Arizona (33-3) performs No. 5 seed Houston (31-5) within the different South semi. The Wildcats needed to continue to exist extra time towards TCU in the second one spherical. The Cougars, a Final Four staff closing season, are a lot nearer to house after beginning this NCAA tourney in Pittsburgh.
Michigan, one in every of 4 double-digit seeds nonetheless taking part in, is in its 5th consecutive Sweet 16. Only No. 1 general seed Gonzaga at seven in a row has an extended lively streak.
The Wolverines alternated wins and losses over their closing 10 video games prior to the 68-team NCAA Tournament box used to be set, and performed their closing 5 regular-season video games with out suspended trainer Juwan Howard. They then had to conquer halftime deficits towards Colorado State and Tennessee within the NCAA’s first two rounds, getting their first back-to-back wins in just about six weeks.
“So with five straight Sweet 16 appearances, it’s not easy. It takes a lot of effort. It takes a lot of being uncomfortable,” said Howard, the Fab Five player in his third season as Michigan’s coach.
Eli Brooks, who chose the Wolverines over Villanova in recruiting, is getting ready for his 14th NCAA tourney game. The guard is the only current Michigan player who appeared in the 2018 title game, playing the final three minutes.
After big man Hunter Dickinson pointed out Brooks’ time at Michigan was a common denominator in the school’s five consecutive Sweet 16s, Brooks quickly interjected, “I’ve only got four of them. I can’t take credit for all five.”
Michigan lost three of its top four scorers from that 2018 team. Jalen Brunson and Mikal Bridges were among four Villanova players drafted by the NBA soon after that title game, and those were the guys who helped set the tone for Gillespie and Samuels.
“They watched the leadership of Jalen Brunson, Mikal Bridges, and they really learned from that and they’ve become the same kind of leaders,” Villanova trainer Jay Wright mentioned. “When you had Jalen and Mikal and guys like that, you never think you’re going to get leaders like that again. Then you watch Collin and Jermaine and you realize, if you have guys like that, there’s a chance they can pass it on.”
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