Jenkins becomes latest on list of last-second NCAA greats
On its own, Kris Jenkins' 3-point shot to win the national championship for Villanova wasn't all that out of the ordinary.
In an era when Steph Curry has made 35-foot jump shots seemingly commonplace, Jenkins' twenty-something-footer was relatively normal.
What made the shot so memorable was the entirety of the back-and-forth that led up to it, the nervous energy surrounding both teams as they competed toward an uncertain outcome in the closing minutes, and the remarkable double-clutch 3-pointer by North Carolina's Marcus Paige that preceded it.
And, of course, there was the timing - the buzzer-beating dramatics of which hadn't been seen in an NCAA Tournament championship game since the Lorenzo Charles dunk that secured North Carolina State's victory over Houston in 1983.
If there was indeed a debate about whether the long ball had replaced its high-flying cousin, the dunk, as the highlight of choice for many a millennial, Jenkins might have just ended it.
Jenkins' shot will certainly go down as the most revered in Villanova basketball history, and it immediately joined Charles' dunk on the short list for greatest NCAA championship game finishes.
Game-winning, last-second shots are almost as expected in the NCAA Tournament as the opening-round upset - from U.S. Reed in 1981 to Bryce Drew in 1998 and this year's halfcourt heave by Northern Iowa's Paul Jesperson. While they are often celebrated for a brief moment before we turn our attention to another opening-weekend game, Monday night's tournament finish had the attention of the entire country.
It's a finish weary teenagers talked about Tuesday morning at high schools across the nation, one they'll recall with clarity years from now - just as their fathers remember Charles and other unforgettable game-ending shots that led to NCAA championships.
What a game.
What a tournament.
Here are some more heart-stopping moments from the NCAA Tournament archives:
While Tyus Edney's length-of-the-court drive to give UCLA a buzzer-beating win over Missouri happened in the second round of the 1995 NCAA Tournament, it had no less impact overall. Following Edney's dash and layup to give UCLA the 75-74 win, the Bruins collected themselves and went on to defeat defending champion Arkansas two weeks later for the title.
Indiana won the last of its three championships under coach Bobby Knight in 1987, and it did so in dramatic fashion - with Keith Smart connecting on a baseline jumper in the closing seconds to give the Hoosiers a 74-73 win over Syracuse. It was also Smart who then stole the Syracuse inbounds attempt with one second left to secure the win.
One of the tournament's signature moments, Christian Laettner's catch from Grant Hill, shot fake and turnaround jumper to defeat Kentucky at the buzzer of a 1992 regional final did more than just send defending champion Duke back to the Final Four. It also led to back-to-back titles for the Blue Devils, who went on to defeat Fab Five-led Michigan in the championship game.
Basketball great Michael Jordan was on hand to watch his beloved Tar Heels lose in gut-wrenching fashion on Monday night. Long ago, it was Jordan who hit the eventual winner in North Carolina's 63-62 win over Georgetown in 1982. Then a freshman, Jordan hit his shot from the left wing with 16 seconds remaining, and the Tar Heels held on after a turnover by the Hoyas' Fred Brown.
This story has been corrected to Houston not Georgetown in 1983 game.