The biggest basket of this yearâs NCAA Tournament -- so far -- came courtesy of Wisconsin senior, and one of the most recognizable players in the sport, Nigel Hayes. And it was inspired by the all-time greatest: Michael Jordan.
Hayesâ reverse layup with 11.4 seconds remaining gave Wisconsin the lead for good vs. No. 1 overall seed and the reigning national champs, Villanova. The head fake and spin by Hayes against Mikal Bridges gave him just enough room to get the shot off.
Hereâs what Hayes told Allie LaForce in his postgame, on-court interview.
âWe wanted to get me isolated on the wing,â Hayes said. âI felt like I could take them, the way theyâve been playing the game, theyâve been crowding me, so I knew I would have the baseline. I drove baseline, and if you guys are familiar with a Michael Jordan highlight -- the fake spin-back -- I did my fake spin-back, got to my left hand and fortunately it went in.â
And hereâs the play.
Just enough hesitation. This was savvy. The NCAA Tournament is always spectacular, in part because of moments like this. The fact Hayes used Jordan as the inspiration makes it even cooler. His influence is still permeating.
Hayes is specifically referring to Jordanâs Houdini escape against the New York Knicks in the 1990s. Any basketball fan knows it.