The era of the traditional big man is gone in college basketball

April 3, 2018 GMT

SAN ANTONIO – Villanova and Michigan might be starting an NCAA title game trend.

The era of traditional big men dominating college hoops is gone. This March Madness is proof that more teams are following the Golden State Warriors model.

Sure, every college coach would love to have a Steph Curry type running the show, but Golden State’s small-ball style works in the NBA because of big men who can shoot.

Michigan’s Moe Wagner, a 6-11 junior, entered Monday’s title game at the Alamodome shooting 39 percent from beyond the arc. Villanova’s frontcourt of 6-9 Eric Paschall and 6-9 Omari Spellman combined for as many three-pointers (seven) as the Wildcats’ starting backcourt in Saturday’s win against Kansas.


“It’s invaluable,” Villanova coach Jay Wright said. “I mean, it’s the toughest thing to guard. And it’s being able to shoot the ball but also … being able to put the ball on floor and create your shot.”

Wright said the Wildcats have never faced an opposing player with Wagner’s size and range. He joked that Michigan’s sharpshooting big man was a more “thinned-down, eating-healthier, a-little-more-skilled” version of former West Virginia star Kevin Pittsnogle, who played for current Michigan coach John Beilein in the Elite Eight in 2005.

“This is Golden State Warriors here,” Beilein said. “This is Draymond Green-type of thing where your guys can shoot it, they can pass it, they can do everything. It’s like we like to play as well, and it’s a great concept.”

Delany wants new rules

The FBI investigation that revealed massive corruption in college basketball this season put a heavier microscope on how agents are putting the eligibility of college athletes at risk before they become professional players.

So Big Ten Commissioner Jim Delany said Monday in San Antonio that the rules barring players from hiring agents while they are in college needs to change.

“The way the situation is now structured is we’re there but not in control,” Delany said on the Big Ten Network. “I think we’re going to have to liberalize the agent rules in some form or fashion. I think people deserve the right to get good professional advice. I think that needs to be done soon and probably earlier — even earlier than their college career.”

Delany also hopes that the NBA Players’ Association and the league’s owners decide sooner rather than later to end the rule stopping high school players from entering the NBA after graduating.


“There’s got to be more choice for the player, the young player,” he said. “If you’re interested in college, you should have that choice. If you’re interested in professionalizing yourself, you should have that choice.”


• Villanova students flooded the streets around campus in Villanova, Pa., to celebrate their team’s victory. In anticipation of celebrations, light poles around the university had been greased, but that didn’t stop some fans from climbing them anyway.

• Only four teams in the past 50 years have started the season unranked and won the NCAA title: Villanova (1985), Syracuse (2003), Florida (2006) and UConn (2011). Michigan was trying to become the fifth.

• Villanova improved to 4-1 all-time against Michigan, including 2-0 in NCAA tournament games.

• Beilein will have to wait until next season to get another crack at his 800th victory as a college coach.

• Michigan had won 14 games in a row, the longest streak in the country. The Wolverines set a school record for victories with 33.

• Michigan’s lone national championship remains the one it won in 1989.

News services contributed to this report.