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On This Day in 1985 Villanova Upsets Georgetown in NCAA Title Game 0

Posted on April 01, 2016 by Mike Raffone

Villanova 1985 NCAA Champs

April 1, 1985 marks a special day in NCAA college basketball history.

College basketball players, fans, coaches and pundits have claimed that on that memorable day 31 years ago the Villanova Wildcats emerged as the closest a team has ever come to playing a perfect game.

Also, many have cited that April 1, 1985 marked the greatest upset victory in the history of NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament Championship Games.

The iconic win captivated college basketball fans. At Lexington, Kentucky’s Rupp Arena, Villanova captured its first ever NCAA men’s tournament crown under its likeable chubby coach Rollie Massimino.

Seeded #8, Villanova remains the lowest ranked team to ever win an NCAA title. The Big East team bested #9 seed Dayton Flyers, #7 seed UNC Tar Heels, #5 seed Memphis State Tigers and #2 seed Michigan Wolverines to advance to the Big Dance’s biggest party.

On that special Monday night on April 1, 1985, Villanova played brilliantly against the previous year’s defending champion and dominating #1 overall seed in the field. Led by legendary coach John Thompson II, the Hoyas were odds on favorite to defeat the undersized and undermanned Wildcats. Read the rest of this entry →

The Palestra: College Basketball’s Most Beloved Arena 3

Posted on February 01, 2016 by Mike Raffone

The Palestra

As the NCAA basketball season inches towards tournament time, allow me to highlight my favorite place on the planet to watch college hoops.

As Philadelphia’s most revered sports venue, the Palestra is appropriately called the Cathedral of College Basketball.

Recognized as the birthplace of college basketball, this hallowed arena opened its doors on the University of Pennsylvania campus on January 1, 1927. On that seminal day, Ivy League rivals Penn and Yale tipped off in what would become the first of thousands of games held in this building.

Named after an ancient Greek rectangular enclosure, the sparkling new facility was designed to house 8,722 spectators.

However, more than 10,000 excited fans crammed into the Palestra to witness Penn beat Yale 26 – 15 on its opening day.

Since then, the Palestra has hosted more NCAA college basketball games than any other arena in the country.

Beginning 1955, the Palestra has also served as the home court for the round robin of Big 5 college basketball games. Though not an official league or athletic conference, the Big 5 boasts five successful college basketball programs located within a 17 mile radius of center city Philadelphia. Read the rest of this entry →

A Look at Big East Basketball, Then and Now 4

Posted on February 19, 2011 by Ray Thompson

A young Lou Carnesecca coaching Chris Mullin at St. Johns.

In 1985, The Big East conference dominated the national rankings and the NCAA tournament, sending 3 teams to the final four (Georgetown, Villanova, and St. Johns) with two of those teams vying for the national championship.

Georgetown and Villanova played one of the greatest finals games in history and to this day this game is considered one of the biggest upsets in college basketball. A game in which a heavily favored Georgetown team, coached by John Thompson, and lead by a dominant Patrick Ewing lost to underdog Villanova, a team coached by Rollie Massimino and featured Ed Pinckney winning the MVP as Villanova won the tournament in stunning fashion by a margin of two points.

The Big East was special that year for the amazing amount of talent that was in the conference combined with a crop of energetic coaches, in the prime or in the early years of their respective careers, matching wits in what was at the time the best college basketball conference.

Three time Big East player of the year Chris Mullin played on that St. John’s team coached by Lou Carnesecca (remember those sweaters), A young Gary Williams was coaching a solid BC team featuring Michael Adams in the backcourt, and Syracuse had a great team that year featuring Dwayne “Pearl” Washington and Rony Seikaly coached by one of the greatest basketball coaches in history, Jim Boeheim. These players are now legends, many of whom went on to NBA careers. It was their journey through the Big East conference, the elite conference in the nation in 1984 – 1985, that helped make them the great players they would become.

Read the rest of this entry →

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  • Vintage Athlete of the Month

    • Billy Kilmer: Hard-Nosed Quarterback
      September 2, 2018 | 7:32 pm
      Kilmer

      Billy Kilmer

      The Sports Then and Now Vintage Athlete of the Month began his NFL career as an athletic running quarterback, but he endured a near fatal car accident to completely change his game during a career that spanned nearly two decades.

      Anyone who is familiar with former NFL quarterback Billy Kilmer probably remembers him as the portly, un-athletic, but very tough quarterback for the Washington Redskins in the 1970s. However, during his first two NFL seasons, Kilmer was primarily used as a running quarterback and running back for the San Francisco 49ers.

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