The Villanova Wildcats are about to march down Philadelphia’s Market Street in a victory parade, days after being named National Champions in a nail-biter of a game. But was that a come-from-behind win?
During a campaign stop to the AFL-CIO Convention in Philadelphia on Wednesday, Hillary Clinton riled up the crowd with a quip about Villanova’s buzzer-beating final shot that clinched the Wildcats the national championship.
“I love those come-from-behind victories,” she said.
Sure, it was an off-the-cuff remark about a basketball game. But, given the enthusiasm of Philadelphia sports fans, we decided to check the claim: Was Villanova’s win really of the “come-from behind” variety?
Wildcats fans may have been sweating the last few minutes, but Villanova never trailed in the closing stages.
Within minutes, Clinton’s campaign defended the remark, saying UNC was leading at the half and, citing FiveThirtyEight, added that the Tar Heels were about twice as likely to win the game at that point before ‘Nova came back to take the lead in the second half.
Prior to tip-off, ‘Nova was a three-point underdog in the final game of March Madness, despite coming off a 44-point win over Oklahoma in the semi-finals. Villanova was down to North Carolina 39-34 at the half, then trailed by seven points with 19:16 to play in the game before, yes, mounting a comeback.
That said, the last lead the Tar Heels held came at the 15:20-minute mark of the second half. The game was tied a few times, but Carolina never held another lead the entire game. Villanova, however, had a 10-point lead with 5:29 to play.
The Wildcats’ lead at that time was seemingly so insurmountable, that Nate Silver’s FiveThirtyEight tweeted there was a 96 percent chance Villanova would would win the game.
As UNC chipped away to tie things up with seconds left, ‘Nova held on for dear life before Kris Jenkins hit the game winning shot. That three-pointer that went in as the final second on the clock ticked away won the game, 77-74, for Villanova.
Hillary Clinton said during a campaign stop at the AFL-CIO Convention in Philadelphia that she loves “those come-from-behind victories.”
We do, too.
But this wasn’t one of them.
Villanova didn’t trail in the last 15:20 of the game. Yes, the Cats made a last-second shot to win. But if they missed, the game would have moved onto overtime.
To steal another basketball cliche, this claim is a bit of a brick. We rate it Mostly False.