Villanova Wildcats faced down the Juggernaut

Last night's national championship basketball game will go down in history as one of the best games ever.  A casual fan will claim that it was an improbable victory by Villanova.  Most seasoned observers of basketball will realize that the Wildcats were ranked number One for a couple f weeks during the season.  On their way to the Championship they beak a Miami Hurricane team that was athletic and long.  They then proceeded to eliminate Kansas and Oklahoma to set up a match up with one of the most storied programs in basketball history.

The North Carolina Tar Heels have produced a stellar list of pro players.  It was stated that almost 50 of them showed up at the game last night.  I did not realize that I was watching the Tar Heel telecast until halftime.  Brendan Haywood, a semi-star, was so pro Tar Heels in his telecast that I was complaining the whole time.  Let me count the stars that I saw: Michael Jordan, Kenny Smith, Vince Carter, Harrison Barnes, Antwan Jamison and Al Wood.  James Worthy was tweeting during the game.  Sam Perkins was one of my favorite players from North Carolina.  Michael Jordan recounted last night how his last second shot in the 1982 Championship game helped to create his legacy in the sport.

On the Villanova side I saw Kyle Lowery behind Coach Jay Wright.  That was it in terms of NBA representation.  Coach Rollie Massimino was there along with Mike Fratello.  I loved the pro career of Alvin Williams.  Also, Dante Cunningham and Ed Pinckney earned time on NBA teams.  It was a true case of David versus Goliath in terms of star power and tradition.  The Tar Heels claim 5 national titles.  The Wildcats were playing for their second national championship.  I witnessed the game in 1985 in which they beat the mighty Georgetown Hoyas.  I must admit that I was a Hoya fan at the time.

Last night's game was a pretty tense affair.  Villanova had demolished Oklahoma in the semi-final game.  North Carolina took care of business against the #10 seed Syracuse Orangemen.  Buddy Hield had one of the most explosive tournaments in NCAA history.  The stifling team defense of the Wildcats made him an afterthought during the game.  I was worried about defending Brice Johnson during the game.  He was a beast leading up to the Championship.  Joel Berry II had a first half for the ages last night.  He was like 5 of 6 from three point range.  My favorite player, Josh Hart, was having trouble around the rim trying to score on the Tar Heel defenders.

Image for the news result

The Wildcats were down seven early in the second half.  You would not have been able to tell from the look on Coach Wright's face.  He was coaching and cajoling his players all night.  Ryan Arcidiacono, who was steady even when he was not scoring, kept his poise and hit some tough jump shots late in the game.  The unsung hero for Villanova will be Phil Booth though.  This guy came off the bench with ice water in his veins.  He hit tough shot after tough shot to keep the game close.  Even a ten point lead against the Tar Heels was not enough in my book. 

The final sequence of plays was electrifying.  Marcus Paige, a fellow lefty like myself, made some crucial shots late to bring the Tar Heels back within striking distance.  An uncharacteristic bad pass by Arcidiacono set the stage for the historic finish.  Daniel Ochefu must have been feeling the pressure because he lunged at Paige's feet instead of defending from a stand up position.  His three tied the game and Michael Jordan had visions of overtime.  Kris Jenkins, aka Big Smooth, stuck a three point shot with time expiring and that shot will be replayed for years.  I thoroughly enjoyed the game and would have been okay with either team winning.  They both exhibited excellent class and effort on a world stage.

Congratulations to all Villanova Wildcats fans and alumni who witnessed the game last night.  I read about a few arrests and some unruly behavior.  Fans can savor the fact that the Championship will reside for a year with a team comprised of seniors and third year players who built a legacy of winning this year.  Happy Tuesday sports fans!!

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