The national title game between Villanova and North Carolina — especially the final few minutes — gave us a lot to think about. There was Ryan Arcidiacono’s pass to nowhere, Marcus "Jermaine Kearse" Paige’s bridesmaid buzzer beater, Daniel Ochefu’s mop job, Kris Jenkins’s ridiculous game winner, Jay "Blood Type: BANG" Wright’s reaction to said game winner, and all the crowd craziness — from Rollie, to Tracy Wolfson, to Michael Jordan. It’s hard to sort out what it all means. We’re here to help.
What Does This Mean for Jay Wright?
Jonathan Tjarks: If he wasn’t a Hall of Famer before last night, he sure is one now. You knock off with the jokes about Wright doing TV during the second weekend of the tourney, because he just put in a coaching performance for the ages. Never mind the brilliant game plan to beat a more talented UNC team — Wright’s ability to develop less-heralded players over four years and get them to play as a unit is incredible. The question facing him now? How will he adapt to the elite recruits coming his way? Everyone is going to want to play for him. It’s all on the table for the best-dressed coach in the business, whether he continues to build at Villanova or jumps to the NBA.
What Does This Mean for Marcus Paige?
Danny Chau: It was an agonizing loss, but between his miraculous second effort on a blown layup and arguably the wildest title-game shot that any of us can remember, Paige will never have to pay for another meal at Cook Out ever again. But how many Cheerwine floats does it take to get over what could’ve been?
What Does This Mean for Daniel Ochefu’s Fallback Career in the Custodial Arts?
Chris Ryan: It only helps!
What Does This Mean for Villanova’s Pro Prospects?
Tjarks: You never want to overreact to one game, but championship shine is hard to ignore. Villanova has a lot of fringe prospects who will get more looks from NBA teams following this instant classic. Even so, there are a lot of questions facing this group: Can Ochefu be a backup 5 at the next level? Can Most Outstanding Player Arcidiacono be the next Matthew Dellavedova? Has Josh Hart done enough to declare for the draft as a 3-and-D wing? Does Kris Jenkins shoot well enough to be an undersized 4? Keep an eye out for Mikal Bridges down the road — he’s the most physically gifted Wildcat. The odds might be against all of them, but do you really want to bet against this group after last night?
What Does This Mean for the Crying Jordan Meme?
Ryan: Crying Jordan crossed the Rubicon last night. It used to be a genuinely funny Internet joke. Then it became a ubiquitous Internet joke. Now, after Carolina’s loss, it has taken on the quality of a mysterious, ancient pagan icon. We need to fear and respect it. Something about the presence of the actual Michael Jordan juxtaposed with the ever-prevalent Crying Jordan face on Twitter, especially as the game wore on, revealed some kind of new power within the meme. Crying Jordan is now sentient outside of its origin; it has an agenda beyond the intent of its creators. This was made all the more chilling when the actual Jordan reacted to Jenkins’s game winner with quintessential M.J. swagger. Where were you when the memes took over? You were watching Villanova win the ’chip.
What Does This Mean for Phil Booth?
Chau: We likely won’t be receiving any reports on this, but I imagine there was a robe ceremony in the Villanova locker room after the game. There, they officially crowned sophomore Phil Booth, the not-so-secret hero of Nova’s championship win, the new Archie. Villanova’s succession of heady, long-tenured guards, including Alvin Williams, Corey Fisher, and Scottie Reynolds, reached its pinnacle with the man whose name we all thought was "Archie Diacono" for the past two weeks. Arcidiacono and Booth combining for 36 points on 12-for-16 shooting felt like a passing of the torch. And if you want to question whether Booth is tough enough for the mantle, just know that his dad, Phil Booth Sr., would drop Junior off at the playgrounds in Baltimore instead of place him on an AAU team so that he’d play basketball against men. Safe to say he turned out all right.
This piece originally appeared in the April 5, 2016, edition of the Ringer newsletter.