The matchup itself was already good: Two big-name schools, both with high-profile coaches and future NBA prospects. The game turned out to be even better.
The Villanova Wildcats were in the title game for the first time in over 30 years, while the Tar Heels entered after what felt like the most dominating win in tournament history with a 95–51 victory over Oklahoma. The national title game was mostly close throughout, with UNC going up five at halftime—but then the Wildcats overtook it with a 10-point lead with just over five minutes to go.
Villanova was leading by three with just five seconds left—the Wildcats could feel the championship in their hands—and that’s when Marcus Paige put on his superhero cape for the Tar Heels. Paige sank a miracle three from NBA range, locking the score at 74-74. It looked like the game would be going to overtime and everyone watching thought that *that* would be the shot everyone remembered from the game.
Then came the next play.
With less than a second left, Villanova’s Ryan Arcidiacono took the ball down the court and passed to teammate Kris Jenkins, who put up a shot with 0.6 on the clock. The shot swished through the net, giving Villanova the 77-74 lead and a championship on a buzzer-beater shot.
A final-second shot to win a title is the ultimate way to earn a championship, and many around the sports world felt that the ‘Nova victory kicked off what might be the best 365-day run of champions and championships in history:
Following the Wildcats’ last-second victory, Leicester City won the Premier League title on 5,000-to-1 odds, the Cleveland Cavaliers rallied from a 3-1 deficit to win the NBA title over the Golden State Warriors, the Chicago Cubs won the World Series for the first time in over 100 years after winning a thrilling Game 7 in extra innings against the Cleveland Indians, Clemson won the national title over Alabama in overtime on a stunning play, and finally, the New England Patriots won the Super Bowl over the Atlanta Falcons in overtime after making a historic comeback.
Yeah, that’s one hell of a run of 365 days. And it all started with Villanova.