On Monday, April 4th, history was written when a berserk national championship game capped off an insane 2015-2016 college basketball season.
In what was a chest match between two powerhouses of college basketball and two great coaches, competition and drama prevailed above all else. #1 seed North Carolina and #2 seed Villanova battled it out for forty minutes and the decision came down to one shot in the end.
Going into the game, Villanova, although a highly respected basketball program and #2 seed, was considered the underdog. The Wildcats surprised everyone when they traded punches with the Tar Heels for the length of the game, with the score at the half being Villanova, 32, North Carolina, 39.
“It was a crazy game, a lot of back and forth. In the first half, I really thought UNC was going to take it, they had the lead. But, you know, Villanova came out and played like the better team in the end,” said Columbus sophomore Xavier Caso. That was the largest lead Carolina would possess as Villanova put on a strong showing in the second half.
“It was exciting. It looked like Villanova was going to put it away, but then, to their credit, North Carolina, being North Carolina, battled back into it. And then the ending; you can’t ask for a better, epic ending,” said Columbus dean of students and Villanova alumnus John Lynskey.
After a series of runs by both teams, Villanova lead by three down the stretch. In Carolina’s final possession, senior Marcus Paige, who finished the game with 21 points and 6 assists, knocked down an off-balance, double-clutch three to tie it up with 4.7 seconds left.
With 4.7 seconds left, it was up to Villanova to prove that they had it in them. Senior Ryan Arcidiacono brought the ball down court, with Kris Jenkins trailing.
“I heard someone screaming in the back of my head. It was Kris. And I just gave it to him and let it go with confidence,” said Arcidiacono. As the ball left Kris Jenkins’ hands, fans all over the world were holding their breath.
Finally, Mr. Lynskey could celebrate. Jenkins knocked it down as time expired to bring Villanova their second national championship. This was the first national championship game to end with a buzzer beater since North Carolina State did it in 1983. After a competitive war between these two top dogs, the Wildcats took it, 77-74.
“You know the second it left his hand, that thing was going in. Awesome,” said Lynskey. The shot heard around the world spread all over the country, even to Columbus, leaving its faculty and staff in utter disbelief.
“How could you react to that three? I mean, it was just crazy. I got up, started screaming,” said Caso.
“That’s one in a million, that’s a great shot,” said junior Alex Valeiras.
Jenkins finished the game with 14 points, 2 rebounds, and 1 shining moment.
Contribution from Victor Prieto