Classes off, party on: a Philly bash for champion Villanova
The calmest person in Houston, Jay Wright simply mouthed "Bang" when Kris Jenkins buried the winning 3-pointer.
That bang has turned into a bash in Philadelphia.
The NCAA champion Wildcats will get a championship parade Friday in Philadelphia. But for now, classes are off, and the party is on.
"It is still surreal," Wright said Monday night. "I don't think I've really digested this yet."
Students and fans will welcome home the national champions Tuesday afternoon at the campus football stadium. The Wildcats are scheduled to arrive around 5 p.m.
Friday's parade in Philadelphia will cover five blocks of Market Street and end outside City Hall, skipping the city's traditional athletic celebration route down Broad Street. The Phillies were the last major championship team to have a parade, in 2008.
Police say six people were arrested and 25 people were injured after the Wildcats beat North Carolina in the NCAA championship. One of those arrested was accused of assaulting a police horse.
Jenkins' 3-pointer in the final seconds gave Villanova its second national title, following the stunner over Georgetown in 1985. Villanova had lost three times in the first weekend as a No. 1 or 2 seed since a Final Four run in 2009.
Even the die-hards had little faith that the Big East champions could pull off a run all the way to the first weekend in April.
ESPN said Villanova was picked to win it all in only 2.56 percent of its NCAA brackets and that more users selected No. 16 Hampton to advance out of the first round than selected Villanova to win it all.
A city yearning for a title from its disappointing big-bankroll pro teams -- Eagles, Phillies, 76ers, Flyers -- will fete a bunch of amateurs who don't even play within city limits.
The 76ers' last title, in 1983, ended a golden age in Philly sports during which the city teams won six championships in 23 years -- the Eagles in 1960, the Sixers in 1967 and `83, the Flyers in 1974 and `75 and the Phillies in 1980.
Since then, just the Phillies in `08.
Consider the bleakness in Philly, the Wildcats won six games over the tournament; the 76ers have only nine wins all season.
Philly fans can rejoice that Jenkins, Ryan Arcidiacono, Daniel Ochefu, Josh Hart and Jalen Brunson all accomplished what Donovan McNabb, Allen Iverson and Eric Lindros never could -- bring home a championship.
"That was one of the great college basketball games we've ever been a part of," Wright said.
It was such a great game that even Crying Piccolo Girl turned into Smiling Piccolo Girl.
Right after Villanova lost by 3 points to North Carolina State in the third round of the 2015 tournament, TV cameras captured Roxanne Chalifoux playing her piccolo as tears rolled down her cheeks.
Shortly after Villanova won its first national title in 31 years on Monday night, she went to Twitter with her own reaction: "oh what a difference a year makes," she wrote, with a "V" emoji, and a photo that proclaimed Villanova national champs.
Jenkins' winner came on a play Villanova works on every day in practice: Jenkins inbounds to Arcidiacono, who works the ball up court. Ochefu sets a pick near halfcourt to clutter things up. Then Arcidiacono creates.
This time, the senior point guard made an underhanded flip to Jenkins, who spotted up a pace or two behind the arc and swished it with Carolina's Isaiah Hicks running at him. Or, as Jenkins put it: "One, two step, shoot `em up, sleep in the streets."
That was all it took.
Students rushed from Villanova's arena, The Pavilion, onto a nearby commercial strip where pubs and restaurants festooned with balloons and banners were packed with revelers, ready to step things up.
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