No. 2 Villanova won its first national championship since 1985 thanks to a buzzer-beating three-pointer by junior Kris Jenkins that gave the Wildcats a 77-74 win over the No. 1 North Carolina Tar Heels.
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Jenkins finished with 14 points, while Wildcats reserve guard Phil Booth led the way with 20 of his own as Villanova shot an incredible 58 percent from the field and 57 percent from three-point range, using a 13-2 run in the second half to establish momentum and take control of the game.
Except, it almost wasn’t the case. Tar Heels senior Marcus Paige tied the game at 74 with a crazy three-pointer with mere seconds remaining, setting the game up for a crazy finish. Could Villanova prevent overtime?
The answer is yes, as captain Ryan Arcidiacono raced up the court before dumping the ball off to Jenkins last minute, and the rest is history.
On UNC’s end, the Tar Heels just couldn’t get the shots that mattered to fall because of Villanova’s smothering defense. North Carolina hit just 43 percent of its shots despite a combined 41 points from Paige and Joel Berry II. As for star forward Brice Johnson, he was limited to 14 points and eight boards.
And now Villanova coach Jay Wright finally has something to show for his 15 years at the helm in Philadelphia, winning his first ever national championship and erasing his reputation as a coach who just couldn’t get the job done in the big dance.
Both teams could experience a lot of roster turnover next season but tonight, they can both enjoy the fact that they played in one of the best championship games in NCAA Tournament history.
*Featured Photo (above) credit to USA TODAY Sports