SAN ANTONIO (AP) — Colin Gillespie, Jermaine Samuels and Villanova are back in the Alamo City for the first time since winning the national championship four years ago. Even the opponent is the same, albeit in a different field for a somewhat unexpected Sweet 16 matchup against Michigan.
Gillespie and Samuels, true freshmen during that 2018 NCAA Tournament title race, are now graduate students and starting year four, who have had an extra season of eligibility because of the pandemic.
“We were just role players in a six-man team that had been in the big games before. So we learned a lot from those people and the preparations we have made to get to that point. “Now that we’re back in San Antonio, it’s not really … like the two don’t really correlate.”
Gillespie, a third-team All-American and the Wildcats’ leading scorer with 16 points per game, has started 121 games since scoring four points and five rebounds in 20 minutes during the 2018 title game. Samuels only took the field for the last 10 seconds of the 79-62 win, but has started 110 games since then.
“Different situation. Same place, same team, completely different team,” Samuels said. “But it’s great to see how things line up.”
Second-seeded Villanova (28-7) and No. 11 seed Michigan (19-14) meet in the semifinals of the South Zone on Thursday night at the AT&T Center, home of the NBA’s San Antonio Spurs, which will host 2018. About three miles from the Alamodome. title game. The Wildcats were also the 2016 champs in Houston, about 200 miles away.
Top seed Arizona (33–3) plays No. 5 seed Houston (31–5) in the second South semi-final. The Wildcats had to avoid overtime against TCU in the second round. Starting this NCAA Tournament in Pittsburgh, last season’s Final Four team The Cougars are very close to home.
Michigan, one of four double-digit seeds still playing, is in its fifth consecutive Sweet 16. 1 overall seed Gonzaga has a long active streak in seven consecutive appearances.
The Wolverines alternated wins and losses in their last 10 games before the 68-team NCAA Tournament ground set, and played their last five regular-season games without suspended coach Juan Howard. He then had to overcome halftime losses against Colorado State and Tennessee in the first two rounds of the NCAA, securing his first back-to-back victories in nearly six weeks.
“So with five straight Sweet 16 appearances, it’s not easy. It takes a lot of hard work. It takes a lot to be uncomfortable,” said Fab Five player Howard in his third season as coach at Michigan.
Eli Brooks, who recruited the Wolverines over Villanova, is getting ready for his 14th NCAA Tournament game. Guard is the only current Michigan player to appear in the final three minutes of the 2018 title game.
Big man Hunter Dickinson pointed out that Brooks’ time in Michigan was a common denominator in the school’s five consecutive Sweet 16s, Brooks quickly interjecting, “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 Michal Bridges were among the four Villanova players drafted by the NBA shortly after that title game, and were the ones who helped set the tone for Gillespie and Samuels.
Villanova coach Jay Wright said, “He looked at Jalen Brunson, Mikael Bridges’ leadership and he really learned from it and he has become that kind of leader.” “When you had Jalen and Michal and people like that, you never think you’ll find leaders like that again. Then you look at Colin and Jermaine and you realize, if you have people like that, there’s a chance that they can pursue it.”
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