BOSTON -- It had to end like this, of course. March has a curious way of regressing to the mean. After running low on classic nail-biters, on arenas trembling, on cheerleaders weeping, suddenly
The junior guard threw himself into the lane and flipped it in with 0.5 seconds left, lifting Villanova over Pittsburgh, 78-76, and into its first Final Four since 1985 (
"It's numbing when it happens, especially when the game ends like that. It really is," said Wildcats coach
For Pitt, though, this sort of denouement couldn't have been especially surprising. The previous three games were uncomfortably close. This one also had all the makings of an archetypal Big East brawl, with the serenely ruthless
But there was Reynolds flying past press row, and there was the lane: open all night to the Wildcats' hard-driving guards. As it happened, the moment was all but shining.
No matter: on the night, the entire team finished 22 of 23 (95.7 percent) on their free throws. (The first miss came from Redding with 20 seconds left.) That margin ultimately mattered quite a bit -- the Panthers weren't shabby from the foul line either, hitting 72.4 percent (21 of 29) in as close a game as you'll find.
But let's also give two Pitt seniors their due. The stocky Fields, all 5-10 of him, definitively proved that he has ice water flowing through his veins. (Recall that he hit the game-winning three against Xavier on Thursday night.) And Young will certainly make some team happy as a first-rounder this June. "I've said all along [Young's] a guy who's gotten better every year," Dixon said. "And he seemed to get better as the season went on and down the stretch."
After emerging post-intermission, Young did layup lines with his iPod's white buds in his ears. Precisely what song he was listening to remains unclear (I personally wish to imagine
Detroit, where they'll get the winner of North Carolina-Oklahoma. Tall orders, to be sure, but Villanova -- even leaving the Big East braggadocio aside -- simply doesn't shy away from physicality. They survived Blair and fear no one; given the streak they're on, they won't shy away from