Published: April 7, 2016
It is 2005, North Carolina and Villanova are playing in a Sweet 16 matchup in Syracuse at the Carrier Dome.
I’m sitting four rows behind the basket as Nova trails by three points with 11 seconds remaining. Allan Ray drives and gets fouled on an and-one, or so we all thought… and UNC goes on to win the national championship.
Eleven years later, we’ve gotten our revenge. I say ‘we’, because I am a part of Nova Nation. My mom played Villanova basketball and since I was six months old, I’ve been going to games.
I am a Royal until the day I die, but I will always bleed blue and white. This past Monday night is everything I’ve been waiting for.
The critics have been silenced. After early exits from the tournament in recent years, Nova moved well past the first and second rounds this time around, and Jay Wright earned his first ever national championship. Since his first year as head coach, he has created a winning environment by instilling good character into his players, building men first and basketball players second. Coach Wright’s teams always have a team-first attitude and leave everything on the floor, night in and night out. Nobody represents Villanova basketball better than Ryan Arcidiacano.
A four-year captain, “Arch” willed his team to this championship. All season long he was diving for loose balls, defending opponents of any size with tenacity, and knocking down clutch shot after clutch shot. Even the final play, he wanted to take the shot but he gave the ball up to a teammate with a better look, because it is always about the team. It is no secret that North Carolina had arguably the most talented team in the country, but Villanova proved why they are the best team in the country: because they play team basketball.
Every possession they fought for the guy next to them. When Marcus Paige tied the game on an unbelievable, acrobatic three-pointer, the team did not get flustered, they went about their business and executed the next play.
Arch made his way up the court aggressively, leaving the ball for an open Kris Jenkins to put his final touch on the game.
I think I can speak for every Nova fan when I say the euphoria and utter disbelief still has not left my bones. Nova Nation is back on top after 31 years, and I could not be more proud to be a Villanova basketball fan. Shoot ‘em up, sweep the streets! Vs up!
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