The Sports Section
For those of you that watched the NCAA Championship pregame festivities, it was a major production, to say the least. With such a build-up to the big game, fans were hoping that the Championship game would live up to the hype; especially since the Final Four fell way short of being competitive.
The first game of the Final Four may not have been a “casual fan” favorite, but fans of Villanova enjoyed watching a clinic on both sides of the ball. The Wildcats put on an offensive show as they set a record for margin of victory in a Final Four semifinal by defeating the Oklahoma Sooners, 95-51. The teams traded leads in the first 7 minutes of the game, as both teams seemed to score effortlessly. NRG Stadium is infamously a horrible place to shoot, but the Wildcats didn’t “get the memo” and shot “lights out,” only missing 5 shots the entire second half. Villanova shot 71.4 % (35 of 49) and scored ten more points than the previous Final Four record of 34 by Cincinnati over Oregon State in 1962 and Michigan State over Penn in 1979. The only victory by less than 19 points for the Wildcats in the tournament was a 5-point win over the #1 overall seed Kansas in the Elite Eight.
The contest wasn’t much more competitive when (1) North Carolina knocked off Syracuse, 83-6. Although Syracuse trimmed a 17-point deficit to seven with just under 10 minutes left, the Tarheels suddenly found their zone from 3-point land, after going 0-11 up to that point. The 3-point shooting carried over to the matchup against Villanova, but the Wildcats had the biggest shot of the tournament from 3-point range.
By now, most fans have seen the clutch Kansas crushing 3-point shot by Kris Jenkins as it’s been played over and over all week long. In what may have been one of the best NCAA Championship games ever, the final 2 minutes were definitely the best finish in tournament history.
After Carolina came back from a six-point deficit, topped off by an acrobatic double-clutch game tying 3-pointer by NC’s Marcus Paige leaving under 5 seconds on the clock, senior point guard Ryan Arcidiacono worked his way up court to the 3-point line. Arcidiacono made an underhanded flip back to Jenkins who was following behind, and in stride swished home the winning shot as time expired.
The crowd roared and the players celebrated, but Coach Jay Wright looked like there was still another half to play. Never before has there been such a subdued National Championship coach. I think the guy might be a robot, but then again maybe he was waiting to see if the shot got off in time. After the refs looked at the replay, it was official and Villanova won their first national championship since 1985.
MLB Season Begins
The Pittsburgh Pirates got things underway by notching the first victory of the Major League season as they defeated the Cardinals on Opening Day, 4-1. Tampa stumbled out of the gate a few hours later, falling to the Blue Jays, 5-3.
Kansas City picked right up where they left off after winning the 2015 World Series by defeating last year’s Series loser (New York Mets), 4-3. It was the first time the previous season’s World Series participants opened the following season as opponents. The Mets came back and shut out the Royals on Tuesday, 2-0 to even up the series.
NASCAR: Kyle Busch Dominates Martinsville
Kyle Busch may have figured out how to win the STP 500 at Martinsville a day early in his truck. On Saturday Busch won for the first time in 31 starts at Martinsville in the truck race, earning his 35th Cup victory of the season’s first short track.
On Sunday Busch dominated the race. He led 352 laps and pulled away on a restart with 11 laps to go, outrunning AJ Allmendinger to the finish for his first NASCAR Sprint Cup Series victory to sweep the two-race weekend. Busch led the most laps at Martinsville since Bobby Hamilton led for 378 laps in 1998.
Kyle Larson came in third behind Allmendinger, followed by Austin Dillon and Brad Keselowski. Jimmie Johnson, who finished ninth, will try to repeat at Texas Motor Speedway on Saturday.
Duck Commander 500 at Texas Motor Speedway Saturday 7:46pm
NASCAR SPRINT CUP
- Kevin Harvick (4) 220
- Jimmie Johnson (48) 216
- Kyle Busch (18) 215
- Carl Edwards (19) 206
- Joey Logano (22) 196
- Brad Keselowski (2) 178
- Austin Dillon (3) 176
- Kurt Busch (41) 176
- Denny Hamlin (11) 172
- Dale Earnhardt Jr. (88) 172