Aaron Torres: What Was Vegas Thinking?

Torres shared his candid thoughts on Vegas, Villanova, and Sister Jean, among other topics

April 03, 2018 - 8:47 am

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When Vegas released the point spread for the national championship between Villanova and Michigan, Aaron Torres was stunned.

“I said to my producer, ‘That’s insane,’” The Athletic college basketball writer said on Ferrall on the Bench. “What was Vegas thinking with that line?”

The line was 6.5 points, with Nova as favorite.

“Why was it so low?” Torres asked. “It felt like easy money – and it was. The closest final margin of victory leading into tonight was 12 points – and it’s not like they were playing schlubs. They were one of the few teams that actually got to San Antonio having to play real teams. I was really surprised by that number. This was a big, big, big whiff by Vegas.”

Indeed, Villanova dismantled Michigan, 79-62, in San Antonio on Monday, winning its second title in three years. Donte DiVincenzo had a performance for the ages, erupting for 31 points off the bench. He shot 10-of-15 from the floor, including 5-of-7 from three.

“I think it kind of speaks to the Villanova program as a whole,” Torres said. “That was a kid that came in two years ago, he wasn’t going to play, there wasn’t a spot on his team, so that kid willingly chooses to redshirt. He sat our during that title run, and there you see him tonight: The stage wasn’t too big for him. Jalen Brunson doesn’t play great, that kid steps up – the kid is a superstar. I think he is going to be a star, a potential All-American kind of guy for Villanova next year when Jalen Brunson goes pro. Great night for him, great night for Nova and this system where one guy steps up after another after another.”

Mikal Bridges, with 19 points, was the only other Wildcat to reach double figures. Didn’t matter. Villanova withstood Michigan’s early run, led 37-28 at halftime and never looked back.

The scary thing? Jay Wright, even with two national titles, might just be getting started. In fact, his incoming recruiting class is the best of his career.

“He’s basically getting the same guys that he’s gotten all along – guys that can pass, dribble, shoot, score – but he’s just getting better versions of those players coming out of high school,” Torres said. “And you would think, in theory, that they will be better in college. Now the question becomes, as more and more high-profile players become interested in your program, do you stay true to the ethos that got you here as far as developmental, as far as having guys that are willing to come in and sit out for a year, redshirt, come off the bench? 

“Everyone says they want to be part of that,” Torres continued, “but all of a sudden when you get to campus and you’re a McDonald’s All-American and you’re not playing and you’re used to being the star everywhere you’ve been, it’s a totally different deal when you’re actually living it. I do think it’s going to be easier to sell guys, but as the profile of the program continues to grow, every single kid out there is going to be hoping and waiting for a Villanova offer. What happens when that really, really elite player wants to come to your school but he might not be the right fit? It’ll be interesting to see if Jay Wright can stay true to himself throughout this.”

In other Final Fours, Torres was happy to see Michigan beat Loyola in the semifinals – not because he had anything against Loyola’s players, but because he was sick of Sister Jean.

“I thought it was honestly one of the most obnoxious stories I’ve seen in a really long time,” Torres said. “People said, ‘How can you hate Sister Jean?’ Here’s the thing: I didn’t really hate Sister Jean. I hated the corporatization and commercialization of Sister Jean. I had no problem with her – until I started getting the officially licensed T-shirts and hats and socks and bobbleheads. I don’t blame Sister Jean, but the way the media just fawned over her – and then we get to San Antonio and there’s a private press conference. What is there new to dig up about this woman? So I’m glad that that element of the tournament ended on Saturday, that we could enjoy two really good teams (Monday) and a really great team in Villanova winning the championship.”