It seems as though 2016 was an anomaly for Villanova.
A team that has, in recent years has been known for early exits as a No. 1 or No. 2 seed returned to disappointing form Saturday, when the top-seeded Wildcats were stunned by Wisconsin 65-62 as the No. 8 Badgers will head to Madison Square Garden to play in the Sweet 16.
The defending champs trailed for much of the game and did not resemble favorites to win a national championshipbut did build a seven-point advantage down the stretchbefore being outscored 15-5 as crunch time came and went.
A clutch layup made from an impossible angle by Wisconsin’s Nigel Hayes put the higher seed ahead and the Badgers were able to hang on when Josh Hart — a probably All-American and possible player of the year — forced a drive and layup that was blocked. No foul was called and Wisconsin made one of two free throws to ice it.
How will this Villanova team be remembered?
They won a title, so they’ll be held with high regard by Nova Nation forever. But Jay Wright’s team is now back in the ranks of mere mortal teams.
Seniors Kris Jenkins and Hart will lick their wounds before entering the NBA draft and the era of domination will end. It was a devastating loss, but can’t take away their 2016 hardware — a championship won in the most dramatic of fashion with a Jenkins buzzer-beater drowning UNC.
The Wildcats earned respect nationwide and in the city of Philadelphia. It will be extremely interesting to see how their recent success will effect the big picture and future of a storied mainline Big East powerhouse.