It makes me wonder: What is the legacy of this Villanova team going to be?
"All those games we've been the underdog", Hayes said. "I don't think we did anything wrong, they just did everything right".
Not every season ends in confetti and parades. Next spring, he will tell the holdovers and the new guys what he tells his players every year: "Every time you win and you get a chance to advance, cherish it". "I'm proud of the way that we fought to the end". That's incredible. It's a moment that Villanova fans will never forget, and the shot that won the title will go down in history and one of the greatest moments in the history of sports.
"We had a game like this against Kansas a year ago and we came out on the good side of it", Villanova coach Jay Wright said. Villanova coach Jay Wright expressed an awareness of that past this week and referred to Wisconsin as a "great No. 8 seed".
Getting the No. 1 overall seed is a reward for being college basketball's best team, yet it now comes with a hex. For as well-honed and unflinching an apparatus as Villanova was during its post-championship season, it was jarring to see it look so out of sorts for much of its brief tournament stay this March, often rushing for sub-optimal shots and botching even some quality looks. "Make 'em believe" was the slogan of that team. It took the chosen team of the 2017 basketball gods, Michigan, to top them in the tournament final.
Villanova guard Jalen Brunson leaves the court as Wisconsin players celebrate the upset win.
Hayes blocked Hart's shot. There were three elite freshmen that entered the sport in 2015-16, and Ben Simmons missed the tournament, Skal Labissiere couldn't get off the bench and Brandon Ingram was out in the Sweet 16. Bronson Koenig made a three.
Just like that Villanova's cushion was gone. Houston's Elvin Hayes is second with 358 points in 13 games. It found its way to the team's All-American Hart, who drove the lane in an effort to tie the score. The Wilmington, Del., native made one of two at the line and the contest was even at 62.
"They've been crowding me so I knew I would have the baseline", Hayes said. "We didn't have that final response that Wisconsin did".
The Badgers trailed by seven points with six minutes remaining but rallied to tie the game on a Koenig 3-pointer with 3:27 to go. "This team is just as good, if not better, than last year's team". The team created to do everything the opposite of what its opponent wants is in the Sweet 16, where it was penciled in November.
Hayes finished the game with 19 points and eight rebounds. "You know, I think by noon tomorrow, he's one of those guys, he's such a warrior, that you tape him, you give him a couple Advil, and cut him loose". They played well. They made some incredible shots at the end. That team could go to the Final Four. "Just have to give them credit". He scored seven quick points and as the game approached the midpoint of the first half it was deadlocked at 12.
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"This is what NCAA Tournament games come down to", Wright said.
"When it was 57-50, the game really got shortened", stated Wright. "We're not going to define ourselves that way, but we do get it". So there weren't that many possessions. That was the difference in a game this close. It was a fine display for Hayes, who was playing in his school-record 149th game.
Perspective: Five times since 2010, at least one No. 1 seed has taken the fall in the second round. Half those matchups were decided by six-or-fewer points.
"He had the big-boy trousers on the last couple of weeks", Hart said. It sucks, but we've had a great four years here, something we can definitely hang our hats on.
"That's probably what we have to do to be a success", he said. "They make the bracket; it's a tournament".