On April Fools Day 1985, #8 Villanova upset #1 Georgetown 66-64 to win the national championship in a year when three Big East schools advanced to the Final Four. Georgetown defeated Chris Mullin and St. John’s in the semifinals.
For the first time in history, March Madness included 64 teams. The bracket expanded to 64 for the first time in 1985. Georgetown, Michigan, St. John’s, and Oklahoma were all #1 seeds.
The Final Four included legendary coaches such as Rollie Massimino from Villanova, Lou Carnesecca from St. John’s, and Georgetown’s John Thompson.
Villanova held the #8 seed in the Southeast regional that also premier coaches such as Bill Frieder (Michigan), Dean Smith (North Carolina), Larry Brown (Kansas), Dale Brown (LSU), Lefty Driesell (Maryland), and Gene Keady (Purdue).
In the second round, Nova upset #1 Michigan by four points to reach the Sweet 16. The Wildcats picked off #5 Maryland by three points, and then roughed up #2 North Carolina by 8 points in the Elite 8.
The 1985 Final Four took place at Rupp Arena in Lexington, Kentucky, which is also home to the Kentucky Wildcats.
Three from the Big East
St. John’s, Villanova, and Georgetown were all Big East teams that advanced to the Final Four. Two of the top seed were from the Big East, so it was not that much of a surprise to see Chris Mullin and St. John’s versus Georgetown in the semifinals. Villanova was the big surprise, but they beat a #1 and #2 seed to reach the semifinals.
Memphis State, with the #2 seed was the other Final Four team. They beat #1 Oklahoma to represent the Midwest Regional.
Villanova beat Memphis State 52-45 for the right to play Georgetown in the finals. Dwayne McClain scored 19 points in the victory.
The Hoyas, led by Reggie Williams with 20 points, easily defeated the Johnnies by 18 points. With an smooth win over rival St. John’s, it looked like Georgetown would have a cakewalk to the championship against Villanova.
Villanova had won five-straight heading into the championship, but they also dropped both games against Georgetown that year.
The Perfect Game on April 1, 1985
On April Fools Day in 1985, the world witnessed one of the greatest upsets in all of sports. Villanova played a near-flawless game to defeat the top-ranked team in the country. Patrick Ewing and Georgetown would probably win this game 99 out of 100 times, but on April Fools Day in 1985, it was the one time that Villanova came out on top.
Villanova was only 24-10 at that point, while mighty Georgetown went 35-2. The Hoyas only lost twice that season with back-to-back losses against St. John’s and Syracuse during the middle of the Big East regular season. The Hoyas ran off 16-straight wins at that point, including three wins in three nights to win the Big East Championship at Madison Square Garden.
In the championship game, Villanova went 22-for-26 from the field, including 22-for27 from the free throw line. Dwayne McClain scored 17 points, Ed Pickney added 16, and Harold Jensen came off the bench for 14 points.
Ed Pickney recorded one of the best games of his career with 16 points and 6 rebounds in a 66-64 victory over the Hoyas. He actually missed half of all the missed shots for Villanova. He went 5-for-7 from the floor that night. Sometimes the truth gets stretched a bit when retelling the perfect game from Villanova, but Pickney did not miss a shot like many storytellers will regale. It was Jensen who went 5-for-5 that night.
David Wingate led Georgetown with 16 points in the finale. Patrick Ewing, before he became an All-Star with the NY Knicks, scored 14 points and added 4 rebounds, 2 steals, and a blocked shot.