I said it yesterday: I never root for anything other than something to talk about. But last night I was rooting for Villanova. I thought Carolina would win, but I was rooting for Villanova.
Rooting for the gritty, tough, classy, underdog. Again, don’t get it twisted. They were no Cinderella. They were no anonymous mid-major. They were ranked number one earlier this season. But they’re no North Carolina either. Not then. Not even now. Nor will they be. And that’s why this win is so great, and why I wanted to see it happen.
They beat a very good Oklahoma team by 44 and were still the underdogs coming into this one. Because they’re Villanova and they were going up against Carolina. The bluebloods. The establishment. The program that had Michael Jordan. Dean Smith. And were looking for a sixth national championship. One of the greatest programs of all time. Maybe the best in the nation right now. Villanova is hoping to be the best program in Philly every year.
And logic says you can’t win a national championship unless you have two, usually three superstars on your roster. Nova didn’t have one. Forget lottery, they don’t have a first round pick on that team. Yet, there they are, shocking the world.
Shocking because they’re not basketball royalty like Carolina. They don’t have their tradition, players or facilities. They didn’t have Michael Jordan in the house supporting them… And none of it mattered. And that’s why I wanted to see them win and that’s what made it so cool that they did.
And seeing the way he managed their foul trouble, dealt with North Carolina’s size, draw up that final play and generally outcoaching a hall of famer like Roy Williams… is there anyone, anywhere, with a half brain who still thinks Jay Wright isn’t an elite coach.
I’ll say again now what I said before the game, Wright did not need this one to be considered elite. But now that he has it, it’s sure going to shut a helluva lot of people up.
Great game. Unbelievable finish. And I’ll say it for the record. I’m glad Nova won. Good for the sport. And even better for a class guy like Jay Wright and his program. That was a historic run through the tourney and a title game for the ages.
This post brought to you by Jim Rome.