Wow.

Last night's thrilling 2016 NCAA Basketball championship game will go down as one of the greatest basketball games of all time. The final 5 seconds alone contained all the elements of a magnificent plot: great characters, multiple twists, and a spectacular ending.

The following three tweets sum it all up:

In any great contest, there are lessons learned. Here are a few I picked out for Inc. readers:

1. Create a culture your people can buy into.

The Villanova Wildcats (now the 2016 champions) don't have the reputation of a team of superstars. They are known as a team of unselfish scrappers and grinders who have bought into a team-first system. All five starters average between 9.8 and 15.4 points per game.

Lesson: Work on creating a company culture where people are supportive of each other. Celebrate successes together, share the blame for mistakes--just make sure you learn from them.

2. If you fall, get right back up.

Mike Tyson famously said, "Everybody has a plan--until they get punched in the mouth."

Both teams entered this game as heavyweights: Villanova won four of the first five games in the tournament by double digits and North Carolina had won every contest so far by over 10 points.

North Carolina started their last game (against Syracuse) by missing their first 12 shots, but went on to win that game. They also stayed in this game right to the end, despite Villanova leading this game for most of the second half.

And the Wildcats? They withstood a furious rally by UNC, who outscored them by a margin of 17-7, tying the game on that wild three-point shot. In the end though, Nova got in the last punch--as the buzzer sounded.

Lesson: If you're a business owner, know that the "punches in the mouth" are inevitable. Don't give up. Often success is just around the corner.

3. Know when to hand it over.

Respect to Wildcats coach Jay Wright for drawing up the perfect end-of-game play. But he actually left it up to point guard Ryan Arcidiacono as to whether or not to take the final shot, or pass to fellow guard Kris Jenkins:

"We have an end-of-a-game-situation play like that," Wright said. "We put it in Arch's hands. It's Arch's job to make the decision. Kris told him he was going to be open. Arch made the perfect pass and Kris Jenkins lives for that moment."

What did Arcidiacono himself have to say?

"Every kid dreams about that shot. I wanted that shot, but I just had confidence in my teammates and Kris was able to knock down that shot."

Lesson: On your team, there will be times when you should take over a situation, and other times when you should defer to a colleague. Maybe he or she is in a better position to give this presentation, or even to lead the team in a certain set of circumstances.

Focus, not on who gets the credit, but on getting the job done right.

4. Respect your competition.

College athletics is serious competition. At the end of the season, there can be only one champion.

So what did the head coaches of these two programs have to say after it was all over? Did we see gloating from the victors? Or maybe a sore loser?

Far from it. Losing coach Roy Williams, although obviously disappointed, had this to say: "You have to congratulate Villanova...They're worthy champions."

And last night's winner, Jay Wright: "We all have great respect for North Carolina. We didn't just beat a great team...but a great program, classy program...They played with class, won with class, and lost tonight with class. We have great respect and admiration for them."

Lesson: Cut-throat competition and lawsuits are the norm between most rivals nowadays. But where would Apple be without Samsung, or vice-versa? How good would you be without your best competitor?   

Take a lesson from these two teams, and show some respect for the other side. They've challenged you. Maybe even inspired you.

Certainly, they've made you better.

Congratulations to both teams for a hard-fought game that will go down in history--and for the lessons worth pondering.

Published on: Apr 5, 2016
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