After almost a solid month of buzzer-beaters, blowouts, memes, and a nun who probably overstayed her welcome in the national spotlight, March Madness is finally over.
We can roll out the “One Shining Moment” video and hit all the memorable highlights from the tournament. Remember how those valiant UMBC Retrievers and their Twitter account conquered the Goliath Virginia? Or how the Martin twins and their entertaining coach led Nevada to two amazing comebacks?
Ultimately, it seems like this season and tournament might be written into history as the season of chaos. Between an FBI investigation and inconsistent performances that caused upsets and drastically changed the top 25 poll weekly, it was difficult to keep track of everything going on this year.
Even if you were an avid college basketball fan and kept your head on a swivel, it would’ve been impossible to see upsets like Duke and Villanova losing to St. John’s in the same week coming.
But when I think back on this season, I’ll mostly remember Villanova placing itself in the upper echelon of college basketball history.
While some might refute that idea, arguing that Villanova didn’t even win its regular season conference, I would kindly suggest watching both of Villanova’s blowouts over Xavier, and tell me who is the better team.
Simply put, Villanova was in control through most of the Big East tournament, and then hit its stride, putting in one of the best NCAA tournament runs ever: six games, an average margin of victory of 18 points, 84 points a game, shooting 42 percent from behind the arc, and their second national championship in three years.
The Wildcats were the fourth team in NCAA history — first since UNC in 2009 — to win each of their NCAA tournament games by double digits, and the first team since the 1968 UCLA squad coached by the legendary John Wooden and led by Kareem Abdul-Jabbar to win both of their Final Four games by 16 points or more. While that number is somewhat arbitrary, it is a margin of victory that certainly reflects dominance.
While our eyes were focused on Virginia’s suffocating defense, as the Cavaliers rose to the No. 1 overall seed, Villanova was cruising through a weak conference, riding a modern pro-style offense with dominant guard play, athletic big men, and an ability to play defense across all five positions.
People may say the tournament was chaotic, but some of the basketball was downright ugly to watch. Yet whenever Villanova was on the screen, that was not the case. The Wildcats dominated, and they did it in style.
What really matters for Villanova now that the tournament is over is the discussion around its legacy as a program. With this win, does this three-year run designate the Wildcats as a “dynasty?” Where does Jay Wright rank among active college coaches? Or coaches all time?
Quite frankly, I’m happy for Wright. Three years ago, he was considered one of the biggest choke artists in all of college basketball, known for wasting No. 1 seeds and spending the second weekend of the tournament in the studio. For him to go from this to an esteemed basketball genius is quite a transformation.
And as for the Villanova program, as long as it continues to dominate the remnants of the Big East and stay nationally competitive, I believe it belongs in the highest tier of programs, up with teams like Kentucky, Kansas and Duke.