March Madness marched its way into April and took place in the NRG Stadium located in Houston, TX on the 2nd and the 4th. The NCAA hosted three games in the arena, two of which were Final Four match-ups: Villanova vs. Oklahoma & North Carolina vs. Syracuse. The last game was the Championship game that was determined by the winners of the first games- Villanova vs. North Carolina. Although everyone expected two great games, a couple of teams seemed to have a different mindset.
In the first game, Oklahoma nearly won against Villanova. However, Villanova did what no other team was able to do all year- it stopped Buddy Hield! At the end of the night, Buddy only had 9 points to contribute to his team’s poor offensive performance. It seems that without Hield playing competently, Oklahoma is not the “Goliath” it was made out to be in this tournament. The Wildcats set a record-breaking margin of victory for a Final Four game with their 95-51 win, which debunked the theory that nobody could shoot in Houston’s cavernous stadium.
The later of the two matches that night went the way most Tar Heels fans hoped. For the Orange of Syracuse, however, it was a good season and a great Cinderella Story. They were a great basketball team throughout the five games that they played; however, North Carolina took the advantage as S. Marcus Paige helped push the team to a comfortable 83-66 win that places them in the Championship as well.
Then, on April 4, 2016, UNC and Villanova faced-up in the last game in the 2016 season. As the game began, the court’s display read “The road ends here.” It did- but unfortunately for one team it ended happily and for the other it ended in defeat. Both teams performed outstandingly, battling for 40 full minutes of play. However, Villanova was victorious because key seniors on its team played exceptionally well.
Although the two teams played for 40 minutes, the last 5 are the most notable. When only five minutes were left, UNC was losing by 10 points, looking defeat right in the eyes. When only one minute was left, they found themselves down only one point. Then, Senior Marcus Paige made a stellar performance as his shot inside the last minute tied the game. After Paige’s shot, Villanova Head Coach Jay Wright called time out to discuss his final plans, and when the time-out ended the ball was passed in to G. Ryan Arcidiacono. He moved the ball across court and handed the ball off to Kris Jenkins. Jenkins then shot a buzzer-beater, making the Wild Cats of Villanova victorious!
Indisputably, this was the best National Championship that I have ever witnessed. Basketball can be a crazy game, which is how March Madness earned its name. This championship proved that in basketball 60 seconds can actually be a lot of time- if one makes the most of it!
Article written by Rhett Martin.