Villanova closed 2016 the same way it began 2016 -- with a victory at Creighton. So now the Wildcats are just the third team in the past 27 years to win a national championship, finish the same calendar year with three or fewer losses and enter the subsequent calendar year ranked No. 1 in the Associated Press poll.

In other words ... wow.

Whether folks realize it or not, what I wrote in Friday's column remains true: Villanova has had one of the greatest calendar years in college basketball history. The Wildcats won 38 games and lost only three times. (FYI: Nobody has ever beaten more Division I teams in a calendar year.) They won the Big East's regular-season title, then beat Kansas, Oklahoma and North Carolina to win the 2016 NCAA Tournament. And they've now won 20 straight games dating back to last season.

Saturday's final: No. 1 Villanova 80, No. 10 Creighton 70.

Here are three takeaways from the Wildcats' huge road win:

1. Josh Hart was awesome again

Hart has been the leading candidate for National Player of the Year for a while, and he did nothing to diminish his standing at Creighton. The senior guard took 11 shots, made seven and finished with 18 points and 10 rebounds. And when the Bluejays cut Villanova's lead to 70-67 with 3:03 left, it was Hart who made it a two-possession game again via a jumper that started a 10-3 run that closed things and produced the double-digit victory. Villanova has never had a player with a major National Player of the Year award. But that could change in a few months.

2. Jalen Brunson led all scorers

Villanova isn't loaded with McDonald's All-Americans like, say, Kentucky or Duke. But the Wildcats do have one in Brunson, and the sophomore point guard was terrific against Creighton while finishing with 27 points (on 14 shots) and five assists. Meantime, Creighton's point guard, Maurice Watson Jr., was held to just six points. So give the edge to Brunson this time. They'll meet again Feb. 25.

3. Creighton shot poorly from the 3-point line

The Bluejays entered their showdown with Villanova shooting 44.6 percent from 3-point range, which ranked first nationally. But they uncharacteristically missed 18 of 24 attempts from beyond the arc Saturday and thus are no longer leading the country in 3-point shooting. More than anything else, that was the death of Creighton in this game. The Bluejays probably aren't good enough defensively to beat a team like Villanova without shooting well from the perimeter. So when they didn't shoot well from the perimeter, that, as they say, was that.

Regardless, don't get too down on Creighton.

This team has two really good college guards (Maurice Watson, Marcus Foster) and a future pro in the frontcourt (Justin Patton). They're not perfect. But they're very good and worthy of Final Four consideration.

Will they get there?

Who knows?

But they could. And, obviously, Villanova could too.