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.
By JOHN P. WISE
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. 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.