The Madness of March is finally complete, and one of the strangest tournaments in memory certainly found a way to go out in style. Villanova and North Carolina were perhaps the two most consistent teams in the entire field, playing good basketball throughout, and incredible basketball on several occasions each. In the end, the two powerhouses delivered an incredible contest that kept college hoops fans on the edge of their seats until, quite literally, the final buzzer.
This tournament needed it too. After an incredible opening weekend, and some fantastic upsets, the intrigue of March faded in the Sweet Sixteen round with favorites winning and plenty of blowouts. The culminating shot, the “one shining moment” for Villanova and Kris “Big Smooth” Jenkins made up for all of that though. Incredible ending to an incredible game. The shot itself was easy to love. The inbound play and push up the court by Arcidiacono was savvy as well, but the real reason we all woke up with giddy hoop hangovers today is that it was the first time in 32 years that we saw a true buzzer-beater in a championship game. The defining moments we always look for in NCAA tournaments, and in sports in general, are defining because they are rare. Sometimes, once-in-three-decades-kinda-rare.
In an era where we the media and sports fans are addicted to superlatives and stretch as hard as we can to make something the “best-ever” or “craziest-ever”, last nights championship game actually WAS that great. Nobody had to reach deep into the Elias Sports Bureau stat books to manufacture a storyline of greatness. Nova vs. NC was ACTUALLY great.
Not just between the whistles either. Nova’s win was great because Philly needs something to celebrate in sports, (worst city ever) Kris Jenkins unabashed cockiness in posing after the made shot, all the way to his interview on the podium “I feel like every shot I take is going in.”- great. A million posts of the MJ crying meme on social media was the epitome of internet greatness. Despite the loss, Marcus Paige’s postgame comments were great. Even the most jaded sports fan had to enjoy last night, for the whole package. For the distilled greatness of college basketball. For a story that we’ll be telling over and over for the next 30 years, until that championship buzzer-beater happens again. An instant place in sports history forever is hard to come by. But this SuperNova team earned exactly that last night. You will see that replay over and over again until the end of sports time, and we got to watch it unfold.