2016 NCAA Championship: Villanova Wildcats Defeat North Carolina Tar Heels
Villanova defeated North Carolina 77-74 in Monday night’s 2016 NCAA Championship game. After years of less than stellar results, Villanova has finally come out on top. It was a game for the ages and arguably the best Championship game in NCAA history.
After two semi-final snoozefests this past weekend, last nights game certainly left very few disappointed, except for North Carolina fans. It was a back and forth battle from tip to finish, but Coach Jay Wright had his veteran cast remained focused and disciplined throughout. Villanova knew UNC was coming to play and was prepared to slug it out for 40 minutes.
Villanova found themselves trailing by 5 at halftime to a North Carolina team who refused to relent. It was clear that this game would be decided in the last seconds. North Carolina’s late first half surge left Villanova with a bit of work to do, but they were able to keep it together and pull within reach as they tied it right back up just 6 minutes into the second half.
The Tar Heels still refused to go away and with a 12-3 run late in the game, UNC found themselves down 70-69 with just a minute to go. Marcus Paige, North Carolina’s 6′ 1” senior, was omnipresent all night long, hitting shots from everywhere. He added to the insanity with an off-balance, double-pump three pointer with 5 seconds left to tie the game and send the NRG Center into a frenzy. This set up what will be considered one of the most memorable plays in tournament history.
As the ball was inbounded, Villanova’s senior guard Ryan Arcidiacono weaved up the court with laser focus, only to hear 6’6″ junior forward Kris Jenkins calling for the ball. With a flip and a prayer, Arcidiacono dished to Jenkins with a mere second on the clock. With the entire crowd on their feet, Jenkins drilled a 3-pointer as time expired to win the 2016 NCAA Championship game. It was the sort of win college basketball fans will never forget and one that will surely help define the legacy of Villanova basketball.
A Memorable Run
The always-poised and well-dressed Jay Wright, Villanova’s head coach, finally got the proverbial monkey off his back after several thwarted attempts in recent years to make a championship run. The Wildcats amassed win after win in the tournament in impressive fashion, with an average margin of victory of over 20-points.
Villanova has no real standout prospects for the NBA when you look at their roster. However, they do have a team of hard-working, scrapping, grinders who play as a team, and proved you don’t have to be a storied program full of NBA bound superstars to accomplish the ultimate goal. 1985 was the last time Villanova was able to taste the victory it so often sought out, but Monday night was finally their time.
As the fans erupted courtside and the confetti fell, the party was just getting started back home. Fans filled the streets into the wee hours of the night celebrating a championship for the first time in 31 years. With championships in 2016, 1985, and also in 1954, it seems 31 years is the magic number.
While history would dictate that 2047 should yield another championship, Jay Wright and company sure hope its a lot sooner. For now, the Villanova Wildcats will enjoy this incredible Cinderella run and bask in the glory as winners of the 2016 NCAA National Championship.