If you stayed up to watch the game, have any sort of social media, or even just have been outside between Monday night and now, you would’ve known that the championship game between #1 North Carolina and #2 Villanova was one of the greatest National Championship games in history. What was back and forth for most of the game that made it worth watching, it was the final seconds of the game that got people talking.
UNC, down three with 13 seconds left. Joel Berry II brings the ball up the court and tries to give the ball off the Marcus Paige. After almost throwing the ball away, Paige retrieves the ball and throws up a double-clutch three-pointer over nearly two guys. Bang. When watching this game and Paige take that three, I was screaming “WHY WOULD YOU SHOOT THAT?!” The look on my face when he hit that shot was just pure shock. I kept saying that was the greatest shot I’ve ever seen in my life. But Villanova had called a timeout with four seconds left on the clock. Villanova head coach Jay Wright writes up a perfect play to get a three-point shot off. Most Outstanding Player winner Ryan Arcidiacono brings up the ball, comes off a screen, and dishes it off to Kris Jenkins for an open three. Bang. Game over. Villanova wins the National Championship off a buzzer-beater, the second game ever to end on one (the other being NC State). As soon as the ball left his hands I knew it was in. Giving Jenkins, a 38 percent three-point shooter that season, a wide-open look from deep for the game was not something UNC planned on doing. Well, it happened, Jenkins made a shot college basketball fans will be watching over and over again and talking about for many years to come.
For those wondering, I was rooting for UNC this game. Although at the bottom of my heart I wanted Villanova winning, I had UNC winning in both my brackets so you have to understand why I was rooting for them. I had the top-2 brackets in my school-wide tournament at the time and was devastated, to say the least when they lost, dethroning me as the top dog. Ultimate bragging rights were taken away from me in four seconds. At least I went out losing on a game-winner and not being blown out.
In what was a highly anticipated championship game, it surely didn’t disappoint. It brought everybody to the edge of their seats and most likely screaming at their televisions over bad calls and made shots, which is what a championship game should do. In a game where both teams had similar statistics going into the game (record, PPG, FG%, etc.) it was expected to be a nail-biter.
This was my first full year where I watched college basketball and followed March Madness intently. My brackets always sucked years prior because of my little knowledge of college basketball and the teams involved. I just always picked the best teams to win and hoped for the best. Now that I know more it was 10x more exciting. It was more exciting filling out a bracket that now had meaning and just watching all the games, even if I didn’t know much about the teams playing. I finally understood what all the March Madness hype was all about.
But back to Villanova; do you expect them to make a run for a back-to-back next year? If not, who are your early favorites to win it all next year? I’m sure Villanova isn’t too worried about that now; they’re still too busy celebrating their “one of the greatest National Championship games of all time” victory.