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A Fitz-Like College Basketball Finish

Villanova-North Carolina reminiscent of Cardinals' NFC Divisional round win over Packers

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Villanova's Kris Jenkins (left) and Cardinals WR Larry Fitzgerald after their similar game-winning plays in 2016.


Wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald impersonated a baseball player by throwing out the ceremonial first pitch at the Diamondbacks' game on Monday night.

A little more than an hour later, Villanova men's basketball player Kris Jenkins pulled out his best Fitzgerald impression.

The NCAA championship game was an instant classic, with the Wildcats knocking off North Carolina, 77-74, on Jenkins' three-pointer at the final buzzer. It was an eerily similar instant classic to the Cardinals' win over the Packers in the NFC Divisional round.

In that one, Green Bay was left for dead until a pair of improbable throws by quarterback Aaron Rodgers – including a Hail Mary on regulation's final play – tied the game and forced overtime. The Tar Heels played the Green Bay role on Monday, and it was a double-clutched three-pointer by Marcus Paige with 4.7 seconds remaining that tied the game.

Fitzgerald was the hero of the Cardinals' 26-20 overtime win, as his 75-yard Hail Larry reception and subsequent shovel pass touchdown catch sent the team to the NFC Championship game. Jenkins ended the college basketball season in one of the most entertaining ways ever with his shot.

There will be discussion about where Villanova's win ranks in the annals of March Madness history, and few think it can be topped any time soon. But if it happens next year, would anybody really be surprised? After all, the Final Four will be held at University of Phoenix Stadium, a place known for its fantastic finishes.

Most recently it was the Cardinals' win over the Packers and the wild 2016 College Football Playoff National Championship, where Alabama rallied in the fourth quarter for a 45-40 win over Clemson, spurred by a surprise onside kick.

The sports world was buzzing about Villanova-North Carolina on Monday. In a year, we'll see if the University of Phoenix Stadium magic translates onto the hardwood.

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