Villanova Wildcats are the 2016 National Collegiate Athletic Association mens national champions.
The second-seeded Wildcats won on April 4 over first-seed North Carolina, using Kris Jenkins’ three-pointer as the buzzer sounded to seize the 77-74 victory and end March Madness.
“I think every shot’s going in,” Jenkins said, “and this one was no different.”
Trailing by five at the half, the Wildcats clawed their way back behind a strong defense and even stronger shooting.
Villanova led 67-57, with 5:29 left, but North Carolina would not throw their chance at winning away. The Tar Heels went on a 12-3 run to pull within 70-69 with only a minute left, setting up one of the most memorable finishes in NCAA title game history.
After North Carolina senior forward Marcus Paige scored a layup off his own missed shot, Villanova guard Josh Hart knocked down a pair of free throws to give the Wildcats a 74-71 lead with 13 seconds left.
Paige then continued his big second half with this remarkable double-clutch three-pointer to tie the game at 74-74.
His game-tying shot left four seconds on the clock, and the audience was stunned and thought this game was due for overtime, but Jenkins and the Wildcats ran one last play.
Coach Jay Wright called timeout and called the play the Wildcats have worked on all season.
“I didn’t have to say anything in the huddle,” he said. “We have a name for it, that’s what we’re going to do. Just put everybody in their spots.”
As the buzzer sounded, the ball fell into the hoop and Villanova was crowned the winner of this year’s NCAA tournament.
The win gives Villanova its first national title since 1985, which was the last time the Wildcats reached the championship game. Villanova, which reached this year’s title game with a 44-point blowout of Oklahoma on 71 percent shooting in the Final Four, finished Monday’s game 28 of 48 from the floor (58.3 percent) and at 58.2 percent, finished with the highest tournament shooting percentage by a champion in the last 50 years.