Villanova Only Wins in Thrilling Fashion

Ed Pinckney, Kris Jenkins

Villanova Only Wins in Thrilling Fashion

The Wildcats' 1985 underdog win had them defeating Patrick Ewing's Georgetown for the school's first national title.

Published April 5, 2016

Just call them Trillanova from here on out.

When the Villanova Wildcats make it to the NCAA National Championship game, they more than make basketball memories that will last a lifetime in the truest and realest form possible.

Kris Jenkins sinking a buzzer-beating three-pointer to lift second-seeded Villanova to a thrilling 77-74 victory over the No. 1 University of North Carolina on Monday night for the National title evoked memories of a Wildcats upset of a larger magnitude over 31 years ago.

That's when eighth-seeded Villanova stepped onto the court in Lexington, Kentucky, against No. 1 Georgetown for the 1985 National Championship game with nobody giving the Wildcats a chance. Little did the naysayers know, they would witness one of the greatest upsets in sports history.

The top-seeded Hoyas were flat out the Big East bullies of college basketball at the time, having won the 1984 NCAA Tournament with Patrick Ewing being the most dominant player on both sides of the floor. Anchored by the seven-foot future Hall of Famer, Georgetown's defense was especially menacing, frustrating opponents to just 39 percent shooting. Toeing the sidelines with his trademark towel over his shoulder was legendary coach John Thompson.

On the other side was Villanova, a scrappy squad that managed to get a Tournament bid as an eighth seed despite suffering 10 losses, finishing in third place in the Big East and failing to crack the top 20 in the final NCAA college basketball poll in 1985. They were coached by gritty Rollie Massimino.

But if there was one team who could stand up to those Hoyas with a nothing-to-lose attitude, it was Villanova. After all, the Wildcats played Ewing and Georgetown to two nail-biting losses during the regular season, including a heartbreaking overtime defeat.

That being said, although they fought Georgetown close during those two games, they still lost both contests, so to feel like the third time would generate a different result was nothing more than hoop dreams at the time.

But no one was prepared for the Wildcats to out-muscle Georgetown, scrapping, scraping and hustling, making Ewing's life as difficult as possible in the process. Villanova's center, a Bronx buzz saw in senior Ed Pinckney gave up three inches to Ewing but still managed to hold his own in the paint, scoring 16 points to Patrick's 14 with all mettle.

When it was all said and done, Villanova shocked the world with a 66-64 victory.

"Look at the scoreboard, just look at it!" Pinckney yelled in tears, as reported by ESPN. "Everybody said Georgetown would win. Everybody! But it's us!"

To this day, the No. 8 Wildcats remain the lowest-seeded squad to win an NCAA Tournament.

Between Nova's 1985 title win and 2016 championship, you could honestly make the case for the Wildcats turning in the top two finishes in NCAA Tournament history.

Not bad for a Philadelphia program not expected to topple the mighty likes of Georgetown and UNC.

Trillanova being in the National Championship game is must-see TV.

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 (Photos from left: Villanova/Collegiate Images/Getty Images, Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)

Written by Mark Lelinwalla


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