For the first time since 1985 the Villanova Wildcats are on top of the college basketball world. Vilanova shocked the nation by besting the number one seed North Carolina Tar Heels by a score of 77-74. Thousands were in attendance at the NRG Stadium in Houston, Texas including Tar Heel legend Michael Jordan, 2016 HOF inductees Shaquille O’Neal, Yao Ming, and Allen Iverson. Millions watched from home as the Wildcats and Tar Heels put on an instant classic.
The first half was one to appreciate as both teams traded blows. Tar Heel sophomore guard Joel Berry II could not be stopped as he scored 15 of his 20 points in the first half alone. At one point he even nailed back to back threes and it seemed as if the momentum was with the Tar Heels as they went into the half up 39-34.
In the second half it was an unlikely hero who stole the show. Sophomore guard Phil Booth came off the bench and scored 13 of his 20 points in second half. Booth’s 20 point night was a career high and was sidekicked by senior guard Ryan Arcidiacono who made several clutch baskets including a sweet spin move on Berry II.
Villanova’s duo of Booth and Arcidiacono helped the Wildcats build a comfortable lead late in the second half. However, the Tar Heels fought their way back with a 7-0 run and eventually made the game close with a few seconds left.
With only 13.5 seconds to go Villanova led 74-71. Coming out of the timeout Berry II dribbled the ball to try and run some clock and passed it over to senior guard Marcus Paige who hit an incredible double clutch three of a contested pass. The game was tied at 74 and it seemed that the game was going into overtime.
Paige had just made the shot of the century left Villanova in shock. With only 4.7 seconds left Wildcat forward Kris Jenkins inbounded the ball to Arcidiacono. Arcidiacono dribbled the ball up the court and raced the ball towards a trailing Jenkins. Jenkins pulled up from nearly 5 feet behind the three point line and drained the shot everyone will be talking about forever. Villanova had won 77-74.
It was not Duke, it was not Kentucky, it was not Florida, Kansas, Louisville, or even North Carolina. It was Villanova who was back on top of the college basketball world.