Good evening and welcome to the final night of the men’s college basketball season. After another exciting tournament that surpassed the expectations of many — and as always made us pundits look silly — we’re left with a battle between the Villanova Wildcats and the North Carolina Tar Heels for the national championship.
Will ol’ Roy be celebrating like this at night’s end?
9:15 (MM): Well Cates, hard to believe another season is about to come to a head. I’m really interested in watching this Villanova defense try to slow down the Heels inside. With Meeks, Johnson, and Hicks down low, it certainly won’t be easy. If nothing else, I just want a competitive game tonight. The Final Four was just so dreadful from a fan standpoint.
9:35 (MM): Villanova loses Kris Jenkins with his second foul only four minutes in…Brice Johnson immediately makes the Tar Heels pay but catching an alley-oop over a much smaller Mikal Bridges. North Carolina also eating up the glass in the early going. Villanova has played well at the top of the key defensively, causing numerous deflections here in the early going. If they want to compete, however, Hart and Arcidiacono will need to pick their spots offensively for the Wildcats. You don’t want to get into a track meet with this North Carolina team, that’s for sure.
9:52 (Cates): I’m a bit surprised that Villanova’s hot shooting has carried over this heavily from the Oklahoma game. They’re nailing basically everything making 55.6% as of the 6:46 mark. Carolina started a bit cold but kept it close until their outside shooting got going a bit with the unconventional duo of Justin Jackson and Joel Berry. ‘Nova isn’t backing down though.
9:56 (MM): Kris Jenkins is a huge factor in this game. With two fouls, Jay Wright put him back in the game and he promptly hit a three to tie the game up at 27. Look out Joel Berry though for UNC, he’s hit three from downtown and the ‘Heels are not missing from beyond the arc. That could be a HUGE problem for Villanova if they can’t slow down the three point barrage in the second half.
Officiating so far has been…interesting. Some ticky-tack calls here early.
10:10 (Cates): We can only hope that the second half lives up to the first. Marcus Paige has barely even been involved but UNC is still an offensive juggernaut right now. Joel Berry is making his mark with possibly the game of his life. 15 points on 6-of-7 shooting from him was not exactly expected. Villanova is far more balanced and that block and subsequent bucket right before the half was crucial as the Heels were starting to gain momentum. How many times do you think they’ll mention that Jenkins and Britt are brothers?
10:15 (MM): Wait, they’re brothers? Nantz mentioned that just as much as he proclaimed his hate for “brown, limp toast.” What a guy.
North Carolina has hit seven threes, and Villanova is only down by five at the break. Pretty huge sequence there at the end of the half, I agree with you. Ochefu and Jenkins need to get aggressive on the glass in the second half as hard as they can to give Villanova a chance. Even then, it might not be enough.
10:34 (MM): I don’t know Cates…UNC is starting to get a little tight. A couple of tough calls on Kennedy Meeks, and Villanova is going right at him. Ochefu with a pretty pump fake and Euro step in the lane to pull the Wildcats within three at the under-16 timeout. Villanova has done a nice job on the glass so far in the second half. It will need to continue here throughout the second half if they want a chance to win this thing late.
10:47 (Cates): This is just an outstanding comeback by ‘Nova. They’ve completely taken over and Marcus Paige is playing very poorly. You’re right Mike that Carolina has tightened up considerably. They need to find a way to get the ball to Brice Johnson again as he’s gone quiet. There’s still plenty of time left for the Tar Heels, they just have to settled down. Also, way to not have your microphone work TBS when you’re interviewing MICHAEL FREAKING JORDAN. Obligatory…
10:49 (MM): The least TBS could do was get a working mic for the GREATEST OF ALL TIME!!!! With that being said, great to see Craig Sager taking cancer by the horns and doing what he loves to do. He belongs on that sideline.
Marcus Paige has looked absolutely awful. He’s not shooting it well, but that should be the least of the concerns if you’re Roy Williams. Paige is reaching on defense, where he’s been exposed throughout the entire game, and is coming off as a big time whiner after every call that doesn’t go his way. Not a great look for a player who has had such a fantastic career. Let’s see if he, and the rest of the Tar Heels, can get it together down the stretch.
11:01 (Cates): And suddenly Marcus Paige wakes up in a big way. That’s critical because Villanova was about to run them out of the gym. They’re still shooting the lights out and even making ill-advised shots. That turn around jumper in the lane from Arcidiacono was a thing of beauty. Still shooting over 58% as a team. UNC needs to step up on defense. They’re getting embarrassed on that end.
11:06 (MM): We summoned Marcus Paige and he answered. Meanwhile for Villanova, Arcidiacono is trying to take the game over, and UNC doesn’t seem to have an answer. However, UNC with a quick 4-0 run to get within six with just over four minutes left.
If North Carolina loses, I’ll be awaiting the Crying Jordan memes to the theme song of “One Shining Moment.” That seems like a really obvious play.
11:17 (Cates): Wow this thing tightened up perfectly. Loads of body contact being let go on drives, but Paige drains a three anyway. Quite a sequence. Need a stop.
11:20 (MM): Arcidiacono throws it away, Brice Johnson hits a layup, and a 12-3 stretch has the Tar Heels within two with a minute to play. What a game.
11:27 (Cates): Ummm WHAT!? That was about the craziest finish I can recall. It makes that Butler-Duke finish fade into the ether of time. It’s on par with Jordan knocking down the game-winner in New Orleans all those years ago. Villanova earned that with one of the most impressive Final Four’s in history. /hyperbole
11:35 (MM): Cates, we said that Paige and Jenkins both had to come in clutch down the stretch. Paige hits a double-pump three to tie the game for the Heels, then Jenkins comes back down the court and hits a game-winning three to win the National Championship for Villanova. There have been a ton of great title games, but put this one right up there against any of them. Wow.
11:53 (Cates): I genuinely am still in shock. Carolina never really was able to run in this game and that’s always a recipe for disaster for them. No rebounding or significant paint scoring either. Villanova is the best team in the land and we were all treated to a wonderful game. Thanks for joining us and be well in the offseason.
Side note: One Shining Moment is still a terrible song.