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Nova tops college basketball with precision play

Posted by Betonline team on 4/11/2016 2:44:30 PM

The Madness doesn’t just begin the NCAA tournament.

It often finishes it also. That was the case Monday night when Villanova used a miracle finish to beat North Carolina, 77-74 in the NCAA championship game in Houston on a play fittingly called “Nova.”. It was one of the best championship games in history because of the ebb and flow of the game and because of two dramatic shots in the final five seconds.

The game winning shot came by Kris Jenkins beat the buzzer and set off an enthusiastic celebration. He was a hero to many but the main hero was tournament MVP Ryan Arcidiacono who dribbled up court, did not try to shoot into double coverage and found the trailing Jenkins on the game deciding play.

Villanova coach Jay Wright called the play “an end of the game situation where we put the ball in Arch’s hands and let him make the decision.”

He made the right decision and Villanova won its first championship since 1985 before 74,340 at NRG Stadium. Some of the spectators played in the championship 31 years ago when the Wildcats upset Georgetown 66-64 by playing a near perfect game and shooting 78.6 percent from the floor. Everything had to go right that night. It was the same Monday night.

Nova shot a record 58 percent from the floor for six games. That is close to perfection. The perfection was created during sometimes grueling practices where reserves were allowed to hack and beat up on the starting five with no repercussions. It was created during a drill called “The Wildcat Minute” where coaches try to simulate game conditions.

“You can’t put 70,000 people in the stands,” assistant coach Baker Dunleavy told the Philadelphia Inquirer. “But you can be hard on guys. You can ask them to respond to being coached tough. Guys don’t like it. They get frustrated. They get upset. But they handle it. It’s life. You can’t control what happens to you but you can control how you respond.”

North Carolina (33-7) rallied from 10-points down to make a game of it. Marcus Paige made an incredible double-pump shot with 4.7 seconds remaining to tie the game 74-74. That set up the decisive Arcidiacono to Jenkins double play to win the game.

“We just made plays at the end,” Arcidiacono said. “This is just something that every kid dreams about. To watch him knock down that shot. This is the end of an unbelievable career.”

The madness began with 68 teams and mad cap finishes and one of the biggest upsets in tournament history when Middle Tennessee upset Michigan State in the first round. We were treated to Buddy Ball in Oklahoma, an unfortunate scene near the end of Oregon and Duke and finally Villanova causing wild celebrations in Philadelphia which will end in a parade in the city of Brotherly Love.

The Wildcats won because they were tougher and focused on executing their plays. But they were also smart and paid attention to every last detail. For instance center Daniel Ochefu noticed that a kid was having problems mopping up a wet spot on the floor.

He went over to help in part because he knew that was the spot he wanted to set the pick to free Arcidiacono to set up the game-winning play.

That’s exactly what happened. Nova took care of every detail right from practices in December to the final play of the season.


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