The Villanova Wildcats won the national championship in the most dramatic manner possible on a time-expired three-pointer.
After successfully navigating a difficult path that included Miami, Iowa, Kansas, and Oklahoma, Villanova overcame a first-half deficit in the final and withstood a late University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill Tar Heels surge to win the school’s second NCAA men’s basketball tournament.
The 77-74 victory over the Tar Heels played as a remarkable coda to a milquetoast tournament that witnessed blowouts in both semifinal contests. Apart from the last-second heroics, the game saw ebbs and flows without either team ever quite pulling away comfortably.
With 5:29 left Phil Booth sunk two free throws to put the Wildcats up 67-57, the biggest lead of the game for either team. But the Tar Heels valiantly fought back. With less than five seconds left on the clock Marcus Paige nailed an unlikely double-pump three to tie the game at 74.
After a Villanova time out, the Wildcats executed a plan to perfection that allowed Ryan Arcidiacono to drive the ball past half court and dish to Kris Jenkins. The swingman released his shot with less than a second left, seeing the red light go on before seeing the orange ball sink through the net to win the game 77-74. Confetti promptly fell and NRG Stadium exploded.