Your Villanova Wildcats are returning to the Final 4. Say it out loud a few times. The reality may start to set in for you. Because it hasn't for me just yet.
When the final buzzer sounded last night I grabbed a pillow and screamed in to it in front of the Atlanta gamewatch crowd. Then I looked around stunned at the euphoria. After the last few seasons, I still felt like a kick to the groin was coming. In some ways, the doubt has been etched in me. Damn you, media.
Now here I am the morning after, cloudy head and all, looking at the nightcap(s) from the night before while I re-watch the game yet again. Last night I couldn't process it all. Now I'm beginning to fully understand just how great of a game that was and how great this team is. Doubters be damned.
Ryan Arcidiacono is now larger than life. He did what we always wanted him to do. He stepped up in the biggest game and made the biggest plays. But he would tell you what we all know - everyone pitched in.
Darryl Reynolds grabbed timely rebounds. Phil Booth dutifully chased Frank Mason and Devonte' Graham like a terrier would a ball. Jalen Brunson shouldered the pressure of running a sputtering offense. Josh Hart hit big timely shots. So did Kris Jenkins, who dominated Perry Ellis despite dubious foul trouble. Daniel Ochefu organized and anchored a suffocating defense. And he hit big shots. And Mikal Bridges. Holy crap Mikal Bridges.
Jay Wright and his staff called a masterclass. Kansas was supposed to be the deep team. Instead it was Villanova who beat the Jayhawks nto submission with a cast of players who will never be a part of the "Green Guys" or whatever bullshit ESPN wants to conjure up next.
Villanova is not only flipping the script, they're dousing it in gasoline, setting it ablaze, and then peeing on it for good measure. And yet there will still be doubt. That's the way it is going to be. Haters gon' hate.
But maybe things are better that way? Maybe that's the script we deserve, the script we need? Maybe redemption was the path all along. To a man, the Villanova players will tell you they don't hear the noise. That they don't watch the TV analysis. That they don't read the papers.
They're lying. They do. And it is driving them to greatness.
So I advise you to embrace it. Lean in to it like this team is leaning in to it. Let it fuel you.
Oklahoma is up next. The Sooners embarrassed 'Nova in December. You'll hear about that all week. You'll hear about Buddy Hield and what he can do. You will not hear about Mikal Bridges and what he's been doing to star players.
And that's just how we want it.
See you in Houston.