The 2016 Men’s NCAA tournament ended just as brazenly as it began with National Champion Villanova hitting a walk-off game winning three-pointer at the final buzzer.
Kris Jenkins knocked down the shot for Villanova to help capture the team’s second national title in the school’s history, and first for head coach Jay Wright. A fitting end to a season that saw no single dominant team unlike last season when Kentucky nearly went undefeated.
The game ended with back-to-back three pointers first by North Carolina’s Marcus Paige to tie the game with 4.7 seconds left, seemingly taking the game to overtime. Paige double clutched in mid air knocking down one of the most amazing shots in tournament history. But in typical March Madness fashion, Villanova point guard and game MVP Ryan Arcidiacono raced the ball down the court and pitched it back to teammate Kris Jenkins, who hit a semi-contested three as the buzzer went off.
The storybook ending has led many to believe that this was the best national championship game in the history of college basketball, if not the greatest finish ever. Villanova was a team led by seniors and a coach who focused on defense and teamwork. Villanova’s tournament run forced them to play the lowest seed possible in every round of the tournament until they faced Oklahoma in the final four, who was a number two seed. Oklahoma had previously knocked off number one seed Oregon. No one can argue that Villanova didn’t deserve it; they beat the two best teams in the tournament on many accounts by defeating number one seeds Kansas and North Carolina.
This tournament saw half court game winners, upsets, a team coming back in the last minute of the game down double digits, and a 10 seed in the final four who many believed wouldn’t even make the tournament. Ironic twists in college basketball was at an all time high this season.
Labeled the year of the senior, where two major stars Buddy Heild of Oklahoma and Denzel Valentine of Michigan state, battled for player of the year in the era dominated by the one and done freshman. It was only fitting that Villanova, led by upperclassmen who were gritty and have seemingly no first round picks on their team, won the championship.
Villanova has been a team that has had great seasons in recent time but has been labeled a team that can’t get it done in the tournament. Previous to this year, they haven’t won a title since 1985 when Rollie Massimino led the team to a national title. This was not your average Villanova team. This team was driven, focused, and team oriented. Coach Jay Wright said that this was one of his favorite teams to coach and that it will be extremely difficult to replace his senior point guard Arcidiacono for next year.
As hectic as this year’s tournament was, there was no better ending than back to back clutch three pointers in the last 10 seconds to decide the winner. Villanova was a humble and grateful champion and very deserving of the 2016 national championship. This game will go down in history and will never be forgotten in the minds of college basketball fans.