After a shaky first half, Villanova went up by 10 with 5:12 to play. Five minutes is an eternity in basketball, especially when the lead is in single-digits. Getting it to double figures was one thing. Keep it there was the challenge.
Villanova was not playing a team that would just roll over and die, especially in the National Championship game. North Carolina stormed back. The lead was down to three in 90 seconds, but Villanova increased it back to six with 1:36 to go.
This is where Jay Wright shines as the ambassador of cool, calm and collected. In what may go down as the wildest, craziest, most exciting 96 seconds in college basketball history, Wright never wavered from Villanova's game-plan or his mild-mannered exterior. Always one to teach, one to instruct, one to make sure that detail was used where it needed to be, he helped Villanova without doing anything.
When the Wildcats were faced with five seconds left and one shot at the win before overtime, no play needed to be discussed. It was already in the minds of the five players on the floor. The perfect play was just the Wright stuff for Villanova.
It is the shot that will define Villanova basketball forever. Kris Jenkins with the long-range three-pointer at the buzzer to win the National Championship -- well, shots don't get any bigger than that.
The play that led to Jenkins heroics was brilliantly designed and executed to perfection. And we're going to break it down.
But before we break down the actual play and the shot that made Villanova the National Champions, we have to first look at two other crucial plays and how the Wildcats were even in that situation.
If there is any divide in local sports, it comes from college sports. There's nothing wrong with a little friendly rivalry, especially when you're a city bound as tightly as Philadelphia is over their pro teams.
But for one night, whether you agree with the geography or not, Villanova represented the entire city of Philadelphia.
This doesn't happen often for the Big 5, a group of five schools that is as Philly as it gets. Only four teams in the past -- La Salle in 1954 and 1955 and Villanova in 1971 and 1985 -- had made the NCAA National Championship game. They only won twice, La Salle in 1954 and Villanova in 1985.
Villanova played the way a Philly team should on a national scale in one of the biggest games of the year in all of sports. That kind of scrappiness and grit is what makes a team memorable and lovable, particularly in the city the exudes those qualities.
One shining moment? You bet.
Kris Jenkins capped a tremendous game with a three-point, buzzer-beating shot to win the National Championship for the Villanova Wildcats in a 77-74 win over the North Carolina Tar Heels on Monday night at NRG Stadium in Houston.
In what will go down as an instant classic, a back-and-forth fight to the finish that came down to the final shot.
One game will decide the National Champion in Division I college basketball this season.
For Roy Williams and North Carolina, this is nothing new. The Tar Heels have won five National Championships in school history and been to the title game nine times. They have five Final Four runs since 2000, and two championships under Williams, their last coming in 2009.
For the Villanova Wildcats and Jay Wright, this is the chance to achieve immortality and join the 1985 team. Rollie Massimino and the 1985 Wildcats are basketball royalty, in part to their enormous underdog status, but also in school history for being the only team to claim a National Championship.
The Wildcats make just their third-ever National Championship game appearance, joining the 1985 and 1971 teams. Jay Wright knows Villanova's history as well as anybody, which would make victory in Houston on Monday all the sweeter.
Tip off between these two schools with long-standing histories begins at 9:19 p.m.
Every now and then, and it is rare, a basketball team turns in a performance like Villanova did on Saturday night, the kind where there are almost no words to describe it.
Once the field of 64 is down to 16, there are no cheap and easy games on paper anymore. They are all formidable opponents.
The Villanova Wildcats are trying their best to channel their 1985 brethren. The 1985 National Champions own the best shooting percentage in a Final Four game.
So the 2016 Wildcats did their best to replicate that, earning the second best shooting percentage in Final Four history. A 71.4 percent shooting clip helped propel the Wildcats into the National Championship game on Monday night as they rolled to a 95-51 win over the Oklahoma Sooners on Saturday night at NRG Stadium in Houston.
The conclusion of March Madness comes in Houston where the Final Four takes place. It has been seven years since Jay Wright and Villanova were last one of four remaining schools taking part in college basketball's national semi-finals, but here they are again in 2016.
You don't see this very often, but Villanova will face the Oklahoma Sooners, a team they happened to play already this year in a non-conference game at Pearl Harbor in December.
It was the Wildcats biggest loss of the season.
Now the Wildcats look to make the leap that they couldn't seven years earlier, and reach the National Championship. Tip off is scheduled for 6:09 p.m. from Houston.
When college basketball season starts in early November, there is no way to truly predict what is to come.
It is the start of a journey. Every team in the nation with a goal: get into the NCAA Tournament. After that, anything goes.
For four teams, that journey continues in the Final Four this weekend, and one of those teams calls the Main Line, just outside of Philadelphia, home.
The Villanova Wildcats are back in the Final Four for the first time since 2009 looking to channel the will of the 1985 team that came away with a championship.
But before moving forward with Saturday’s game against the Oklahoma Sooners, here is how the Wildcats got to Houston.
Welcome to episode two of the Sports Talk Philly podcast with Brian Startare! Listen below online. Today we have as guests John Clark of Comcast Sports Net and NBC 10, along with Mike Sielski of the Philadelphia Inquirer. Listen to the online stream below!