Six plays that won Villanova the National Championship.
Villanova won its first title since 1985 by beating North Carolina 77-74 on Monday night. The Wildcats got it done on both ends of the court during the tournament shooting 58.2 percent on offense and forcing turnovers on 22 percent of opponents' possessions.
For as well as Nova played, it took a buzzer-beater for the Cats to cut down the nets. With that in mind, here are the six plays that won Villanova the National Championship:
UNC Asheville – 1st Round
The Cats rolled UNC Asheville 86-56 to start the tournament. Ryan Arcidiacono scored 14 points including a buzzer-beating 3 at the end of the first half. The last second heave was the second of back-to-back three pointers that increased Nova's chance of winning by 3.5 percent
. That doesn't sound like much but Villanova began the game as a 94 percent favorite against the Bulldogs.
Iowa – 2nd Round
Villanova returned to the Sweet 16 for the first time since 2009 by easily dispatching Iowa 87-68. Stop me if this sounds familiar, Ryan Arcidiacono was key to the win. The senior guard splashed in a three pointer at the start of the game (+8.4 percent in expected win probability), Nova would hit seven of their first ten attempts from downtown. By the time the barrage from behind the arc was over, the Cats led 46-27 and were 95.5 percent
likely to win.
Miami – Sweet 16
Kris Jenkins showed off his “Steph Curry” range by nailing a 3 from well beyond the line to beat the shot clock (+7.4 percent
in expected win probability) late in the first half in Nova's 92-69 win over Miami. It wouldn't be the last big shot the junior would make in the tournament.
Kansas – Elite 8
Stout defense and clutch free throws sealed Nova's upset of Kansas in the South Region championship game. The biggest play though was a three pointer by Arcidiacono with 8:40 to play. It was part of a 10-0 run that gave the Cats the lead for good. The scoring outburst increased Nova's chance of winning by 55.6 percent
and made them 76.9 percent likely to win.
Oklahoma – Final Four
Nova shot 71.4 percent from the floor and only missed five shots in the second half in route to the biggest blowout ever in the Final Four. The Cats used a 21-4 first half run to break the game wide open. Mikal Bridges started it all with a three pointer with 11:23 to play in the first half (+6.5 percent). By the time the run was over, Villanova was 93.9 percent
likely to win.
North Carolina – National Championship
Villanova's second title was won in thrilling fashion. After Marcus Paige tied the game with a double-clutch three pointer with four second left, Kris Jenkins one-upped him. The buzzer-beater capped a magical run for the Cats through March Madness.
Nova had a 60 percent chance to win
before Jenkins took his fateful shot. If he misses and the game goes to overtime, the Cats are slight favorites (51.9 percent) to win in the extra session.