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Entries in Villanova (2)


No. 2: Villanova vs. Georgetown, 1985

Villanova Beats Georgetown

Each Monday until the national championship is played in Indianapolis on April 5, One Great Season will count down the Top 10 National Championship games since 1979, when Larry Bird and Magic Johnson squared off in Salt Lake City. Today's No. 2 is the 1985 classic between Big East rivals Villanova and Georgetown in Lexington.

One Great Season

This game was so significant in the recent history of college basketball that HBO made one of its excellent sports documentaries about Villanova's remarkable upset.

Thanks to the growing popularity of ESPN and its college hoops pet project -- the Big East Conference -- the Patrick Ewing-led Hoyas had no trouble building its bully reputation in the early 1980s. Georgetown played on television frequently, and by the time the 1985 national championship game rolled around, fans of the sport either loved or hated the Hoyas.


+ No. 3: Kentucky vs Arizona, 1997
+ No. 4: Syracuse vs. Indiana, 1987
+ No. 5: Kansas vs. Memphis, 2008
+ No. 6: Michigan vs. Seton Hall, 1989
+ No. 7: Syracuse vs. Kansas, 2003
+ No. 8: Georgetown vs. North Carolina, 1982
+ No. 9: Duke vs. Connecticut, 1999
+ No. 10: Indiana State vs. Michigan State, 1979

In Ewing's impressive freshman season, John Thompson's team barely lost to North Carolina in the 1982 title game, won the championship in 1984 and found itself a year later needing one more win to get itself into the conversation about college basketball dynasties. Ewing was the undisputed team leader all four of his years there.

Upstart Villanova, with seemingly no match for Ewing inside or Reggie Williams on the wing, pulled off one of college sports' best-ever upsets because it was stronger in only one area: The Wildcats made nine-of-10 field goals in the second half and shot 79 percent from the field for the entire game.

Going into that game, the idea that even a hot-shooting team could beat Georgetown would get laughed out. Great wouldn't be good enough; you had to play perfectly to top the Hoyas.

And although that Villanova team will be remembered as one that played with great heart, Georgetown didn't lack fire or even play poorly. The game is remembered as an upset -- HBO's program is called "Perfect Upset," in fact -- but there was no fluky buzzer-beater or phantom timeout. It was just one team being slightly better than the other.


Tuesday Hoops Notebook: Is Texas Toast?

UConn wins the 1999 national championship

One Great Season

With all that talent, I really want to like Texas, but there is something seriously wrong with Rick Barnes' bunch.

I don't know why the Longhorns can't seem to put together a complete game the last few weeks. After starting 17-0 and earning their first-ever No. 1 ranking, a loss at Kansas State on Jan. 18 triggered the team's current 2-5 stretch.

Fortunately for the Horns, they can go 4-3 the rest of the way to finish 23-8 and 9-7 in the Big 12 heading into the conference tournament and probably earn a 5 seed in the NCAA Tournament. That's not too terrible.


+ COUNTDOWN: The 10 Best NCAA Title Games Since 1979
+ REVIEW: Who's Saying What About Super Bowl XLVI?
+ LIST: Nine Things I Hate About The Super Bowl
+ VIDEO: Be ... A Nerd ... Be Be A Nerd
+ TELEVISION: 12 Must-See NCAA Games Down The Stretch
+ ARTICLE: The Sexiest T-Shirt In The World Lives Here
+ LIST: Top 10 Play-By-Play Men In College Basketball
+ LIST: Top 10 Analysts In College Basketball

Or, Barnes can get his team figured out somewhere along the way and Texas can get back to being the team we saw in the first two months of the season, the team many expected to reach the Final Four. A team that doesn't spend 11 straight scoreless minutes against the No. 1 team in the country, as it did against visiting Kansas Monday night. A team that doesn't commit 17 turnovers that lead to 27 points for the opposition.

Until I see such a turnaround, however, Texas looks like it will need to play near-perfect basketball just to advance past the second round.

Even to achieve that 4-3 finish, Texas needs to get back to playing physically, committing itself to the glass and earning better looks. The Longhorns seem to launch many contested shots. Maybe it's just a coincidence that they play teams who play their best defensive games. Or maybe there's just not enough movement in Texas' sets and therefore open looks are scarce.

Whatever the reason, Texas has some time -- not much, but some -- to get things figured out and get back on the winning track.

'NOVA LOOKING NICE: Guards and depth, guards and depth, guards and depth.

That's what will take Villanova back to the Final Four this year.

Even in their loss Saturday at Georgetown, during which the Hoyas built a 23-point lead, the Wildcats played hard the entire time and because of that, it seemed like Villanova was always within striking distance, even late in the game.

But Monday's impressive win at No. 4 West Virginia was another reminder that the Wildcats' backcourt is one of the best in the country, and that few teams can boast an 11-man rotation the way Villanova does sometimes.

FINAL FOUR PICKS: My projected Final Four sees one change this week, and it involves the two teams described above. I thought Texas might have turned the corner with a nice road win at Oklahoma State last week, but I'm obviously hurrying far away from that pick now. I had Villanova in the Elite Eight, but the Wildcats are now my pick to win the West.

+ EAST: Syracuse (West Virginia)
+ SOUTH: Kentucky (Duke)
+ MIDWEST: Kansas (Michigan State)
+ WEST: Villanova (Gonzaga)
+ SLEEPER: Siena

TUBE TIME: Keep your schedule open for the following games this week:

+ Tuesday: Tennessee at Vanderbilt (7 p.m. ET, ESPN)
+ Tuesday: Purdue at Michigan State (9 p.m. ET, ESPN)
+ Wednesday: Duke at North Carolina (9 p.m. ET, ESPN)
+ Thursday: Washington at California (9 p.m. ET, ESPN2)
+ Thursday: St. Mary's at Gonzaga (11 p.m. ET, ESPN2)
+ Friday: West Virginia at Pittsburgh (9 p.m. ET, ESPN)
+ Saturday: Tennessee at Kentucky (9 p.m. ET, ESPN)

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