- Associated Press - Tuesday, April 5, 2016

VILLANOVA, Pa. — 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.

Villanova, the NCAA champion, will get a championship parade on Friday in Philadelphia, but on Tuesday, classes were canceled and the party was on.

“It is still surreal,” Wright said Monday night. “I don’t think I’ve really digested this yet.”

Students and fans welcomed home the national champions Tuesday evening at the campus football stadium, with the team arriving around 6 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 when they were honored in 2008.

Police said six people were arrested and 25 people were injured after the Wildcats beat North Carolina in the NCAA championship game. 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 No. 2 seed since a Final Four run in 2009.
“I watched it quite a few times and every time it’s just like, wow, I can’t believe I was that open,” Jenkins said of his shot at the rally. “Then I can’t believe I made the shot. It’s crazy.”

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 professional teams — the Eagles, Phillies, 76ers and 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 Philadelphia sports during which the city teams won six championships in 23 years.

Since then, only the Phillies have won a title when they did it in 2008.

Philadelphia 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 three points to N.C. 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 logged onto Twitter with her own reaction: “Oh what a difference a year makes,” she wrote, attaching a photo that proclaimed Villanova national champions.

Jenkins‘ winner was 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 North Carolina’s Isaiah Hicks running at him. Or, as Jenkins put it: “One, two step, shoot ‘em up, sleep in the streets.”

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.

“We love you!” Wright told the crowd. “You guys are the 2016 national champions!”


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