The Ghosts of College Basketball Past | Villanova Tricks Georgetown for the Ultimate Treat

After winning the 1984 NCAA championship and returning their top five scorers, including dominant center Patrick Ewing, Georgetown entered the 1984-85 season as the prohibitive favorite to cut down the nets at Rupp Arena at the season’s conclusion. And then they acted like the favorites, winning 30 of 32 games and steamrolling their way into the 1985 national title game. The Hoyas only loses on the season: a one-point defeat to #2 St. John’s and a two-point loss at #9 Syracuse.  

In the Big Dance, the Hoyas overpowered the East Region before thrashing rival St. John’s 77-59 in the national semifinal. That victory set up a title game tilt against another Big East foe in Villanova, whom the Hoyas had toppled twice during the regular season.  

Villanova head coach Rollie Massimino told reporters his Wildcats would have to play the “perfect game” to beat a Georgetown team that was athletic as it was intense, as physical as it was focused. The Hoyas held opponents to 40 percent shooting and their 17-point margin of victory heading into the national title game was easily tops in the nation. Vegas installed the Hoyas as an 8-point favorite. 

In the last NCAA championship game played without a shot clock, Villanova executed a disciplined game plan – a methodical approach of passing and movement on the offensive end and alternating defenses to stymie the Hoyas potent attack. The Wildcats shot 22 of 28 (78.6 percent) from the field, including 9 of 10 in the second half, and nailed 22 of their 27 free throws to stun the heavily favored Hoyas 66-64.  

A Georgetown victory would have made the Hoyas the first repeat champions since UCLA in 1973. Instead, Villanova handed Georgetown its second NCAA title game loss in four years and a stunning defeat etched in basketball lore.