Tuesday, April 05, 2016
After Northern Iowa's amazing buzzer-beater from halfcourt beat Texas, Nails and I were talking about the greatest buzzer-beaters in tournament history. We discussed some amazing early-round shots, like Bryce Drew vs. Mississippi, but decided that for the best ever the stakes needed to be higher. NC State's Lorenzo Charles won the title with a buzzer beat in 1983, but it was a weird dunk, putback type of thing. So we decided the best might be Christian Laettner vs. Kentucky. Until tonight! The first 2395 seconds of this game were fun and well-played. Some of those moments would have been memorable and remarkable, were it not for what happened in the final 5 seconds. First Marcus Paige (who got his team to this point with an amazing steal under the basket, which I still don't understand how he was able to pull off) nailed an amazing off-balance, double-pump, closely-guarded 3, to tie it. But Villanova was able to remain calm and execute a perfect play, Ryan Arcidiacono, with a dribble up the court and the dish to Kris Jenkins, who calmly stepped into the shot and nailed the game-winner as time expired. It's hard to criticize because Villanova just made the perfect play, and because the game was tied so UNC had to defend the paint too, but I don't think Berry did a good enough job of slowing down Arcidiacono, and I think Isaiah Hicks made a terrible mistake by backing up, giving Jenkins the space he needed to get the shot off. Normally, I reject the instant-classification of games and players, as I try my best to remember what happened in the past, but there is no doubt, zero doubt, that this is the best ending in the history of the National Championship game.