What just transpired in the National Championship game between the Tar Heels of North Carolina and the Wildcats of Villanova was so intense, that I am genuinely sorry if you missed it. To start, with 13 seconds left in the game and down 74-71, Marcus Paige and the Tar Heels marched down the court, where Paige knocked proceeded to knock down an off-balanced prayer that knotted the game up at 74 all with four seconds left. But the Wildcats weren’t going away that easy, as junior Kris Jenkins of Villanova drained the buzzer-beating dagger as time expired that won the Wildcats their first National Title since 1985.
As a team, Villanova shot 58% from the field and 57% from 3-point land; lead by sophomore Phil Booth and senior Ryan Arcidiacano, who shot 85% and 66% from the field respectively. Throughout the tournament, this team had one of the most memorable runs to a championship in history, basically shooting the lights out every time they stepped on the floor. But, with Villanova’s inability to capitalize on the glass; losing the offense rebound battle 16-2, the Tar Heels were able to keep it close throughout the entire game.
On the other side, North Carolina had one of the best 3-point shooting performances of the season during the National Championship; shooting 64.7% from behind the arc. The Tar Heels had been shooting a measly 32% from three the entire year; but they found another gear and were able to rain down shots from deep throughout. This surge in three point efficiency allowed North Carolina to actually stay in this game, even after they trailed off and allowed Villanova to come back in the second half.
(…and so on, and so on with the statistics).
The point is, I can throw statistics your way all day long to show who did good where, etc… But the truth is, this was anyone’s game from beginning to end. Villanova and North Carolina were closely matched from the start, with North Carolina being favored by only 2 points going into the contest.
The fact that this came down to two crucial threes in the closing seconds was the perfect closing point to a tournament that fans, like myself, were hoping for. That’s what a National Championship game is supposed to be like; a game with intensity and drama right down to the end. This was a “Fan’s Game,” and I sure-as-hell am going to remember it for a long time.