Michigan women hope to avoid upset against Villanova in NCAA second round

Amy Dilk, Kim Barnes Arico NCAA American Michigan Basketball
Posted at 9:37 PM, Mar 20, 2022
and last updated 2022-03-20 21:37:38-04

ANN ARBOR, Mich. (AP) — Maddy Siegrist and Villanova will try and pull off another upset when the Wildcats face Naz Hillmon and No. 4 seed Michigan in the second round of the women’s NCAA Tournament on Monday.

Siegrist averages 25.9 points and 9.5 rebounds per game and was central to No. 11 seed Villanova’s 61-57 victory over sixth-seeded Brigham Young on Saturday. The Big East Player of the Year had 25 points.

“Her length and her size is special, and the way she’s able to get her shot off and elevate over you is really special,” said Michigan coach Kim Barnes Arico. “She’s an incredible talent. She’s a really special scorer. It was unbelievable yesterday — she let the game come to her, she didn’t get flustered when she didn’t have a tremendous scoring output in the first half and she was able to score 19 in the second half. I know she’s a tough matchup for people.”

Barnes Arico is no stranger to Villanova’s motion offense having spent years in the Big East coaching St. John’s before coming to Michigan. She’s led the program to new heights this season with the Wolverines to their highest ranking ever and a chance to host the first two rounds of the NCAAs.

Hillmon has been a big reason why. She averages 21 points and 9.4 rebounds per game, and has put up 14 double-doubles this season. In Michigan’s 74-39 first-round victory over No. 14 seed American on Saturday, the AP All-American had 24 points and 11 rebounds despite sitting for much of the second half.

“Obviously, she’s a force,” Villanova coach Denise Dillon said. “She’s so impressive… Watching her live yesterday just gave you a full vision of her ability on both ends of the floor. Great offensive players like her don’t commit to defense like she does, so you talk about an all-around great player, she certainly fits that role.”

If Hillmon struggles, the Wolverines will likely turn to guard Maddie Nolan to spread the floor and hit some shots from behind the arc. Nolan is shooting .429 from deep this season, in part thanks to open looks she has found when defenses have put the double-team on Hillmon.

“Maddie is always in the gym,” Hillmon said. “Of course we have our practices, but I see her every single day doing her own individual stuff, and when she’s knocking down shots with her percentage, that’s what she comes in there and does and she kills it every time, whether that’s in practice or games. She’s definitely earned that.”