This month we’re having an NCAA style tournament to determine your favorite Villanova Basketball Class of the last 70 years. Be sure to check back every day to cast your votes and see who advances.
Two of the Top 4 seeds in the Massimino Region fell yesterday as the underdog class of ‘97 and the “underdog” class of ‘06 both came out on top. The classes that will be moving on to the Sweet 16 are ‘87 (79.6%), ‘97 (68%), ‘06 (89%), and ‘18 (88.9%). Stay tuned as these decisions get tougher and tougher.
Speaking of some tough decisions, your work is cut out for you this week. The Coreys vs The Kittles. Cunningham vs Hilliard. Pressley vs Washington. Bell vs Porter. OK, they’re not all tough calls, but it’s the start of some beloved classes starting to fall. It only gets more difficult when we start the Sweet 16 tomorrow!
#1 Class of ‘86 vs #8 Class of ‘65
1 Seed) Class of 1986: Chuck Everson, R.C. Massimino, Harold Pressley, Dwight Wilbur
True Seed: 4 | Record: 91-44 | NCAA Wins: 10 | Coach: Massimino
The class of 1986 went to four straight NCAA tournaments, including an Elite 8 run their freshman year and a National Championship their junior season. In those two seasons, the team cracked the Top 15 of the AP Poll and ranked as high as 4th nationally. The star of the class, Harold Pressley, ranks 2nd in steals, 5th in rebounds, 7th in blocks, and 23rd in both points and assists All-Time for Villanova. That makes him one of only three Wildcats to rank in the Career Top 10 in three of those five statistics.
8 Seed) Class of 1965: Eric Erickson, Don Ficca, Samuel Iorio, Ben Kenny, George Leftwich, Jim Washington
True Seed: 29 | Record: 66-19 | NCAA Wins: 1 | Coach: Kraft
The class of 1965 went to just one NCAA Tournament, despite finishing two seasons in the AP Poll’s Top 10. Their senior season, they lost in the championship of the NIT tournament to future Big East rival St. John’s. The star of the class, Jim Washington, ranks 2nd in rebounds and 53rd in points All-Time for Villanova, averaging 13.5 points per game for his career. His classmates, Eric Erickson and George Leftwich, both averaged double digit scoring in their senior year as well.
#4 Class of ‘71 vs #12 Class of ‘14
4 Seed) Class of 1971: John Fox, Howard Porter, Clarence Smith
True Seed: 13 | Record: 70-19 | NCAA Wins: 6 | Coach: Kraft
The class of 1971 was the first group in Villanova history to make the NCAA tournament in three consecutive seasons. In each of those seasons, Villanova was ranked in the Top 10 of the AP Poll. In their final season the Wildcats reached the finals of the ‘71 NCAA tournament, but fell to UCLA in the midst of their run of national championships. The star of the class, Howard Porter, is the only player in Villanova history to score 2,000+ points in just three seasons, averaging 22.8 points per game for his career. He currently ranks 6th in scoring All-Time for Nova. Porter also has the most career rebounds for Villanova with 1,317, averaging 439 boards per season. That includes the only 500+ rebound season in Wildcat history.
12 Seed) Class of 2014: James Bell, Tony Chennault, Nick McMahon
True Seed: 45 | Record: 83-50 | NCAA Wins: 1 | Coach: Wright
The class of 2014 went to three NCAA tournaments, but only came away with a single career tournament victory in their senior season. That year, the team was ranked as high as third in the AP Poll, and finished the season ranked 6th. This was also the first year after the Big East restructured, and Nova won the Big East Regular Season Championship. The star of the class, James Bell, ranks 32nd in steals and 60th in points All-Time for Villanova.
#3 Class of ‘11 vs #11 Class of ‘96
3 Seed) Class of 2011: Corey Fisher, Malcolm Grant, Andrew Ott, Antonio Pena, Corey Stokes, Russell Wooten
True Seed: 12 | Record: 98-41 | NCAA Wins: 7 | Coach: Wright
The class of 2011 was the first in Villanova history to go to the NCAA tournament and be ranked in the AP Poll in four consecutive seasons. They reached the Sweet 16 and Final Four in their freshman and sophomore seasons, but failed to make it out of the first weekend after that. The class featured three players who put up big numbers for the Wildcats. Elusive guard Corey Fisher ranks 7th in assists, 12th in steals, and 14th in points All-Time for Villanova. Sharp shooter Corey Stokes ranks 42nd in career points for the ‘Cats. And big man Antonio Pena ranks 17th in rebounds, 18th in blocks, and 58th in points All-Time for Nova.
11 Seed) Class of 1996: Matt Courture, Eric Eberz, Nick Fragakis, Jaime Gregg, Roscoe Harris, Kerry Kittles
True Seed: 44 | Record: 79-46 | NCAA Wins: 1 | Coach: Lappas
The class of 1996 was filled with talent, but only managed a single victory in two trips to the NCAA tournament their junior and senior seasons. In each of those seasons the teams cracked the AP Poll’s Top 10, reaching as high as 2nd overall their senior year. The class did win Villanova’s only NIT Tournament Championship in ‘94. They followed that with the schools first Big East Tournament Championship in 1995.
The star of the class, Kerry Kittles, won the ‘95 Big East Player of the Year and was a consensus first team All-American in ‘96. With 2,243 career points, Kittles is Villanova’s All-Time leading scorer. He also ranks 1st in career steals, 15th in career assists, and 24th in career rebounds. Classmate Eric Eberz was another prolific scorer for the Wildcats, ranking 34th in points All-Time.
#2 Class of ‘09 vs #7 Class of ‘15
2 Seed) Class of 2009: Dwayne Anderson, Bilal Benn, Shane Clark, Dante Cunningham, Frank Tchuisi
True Seed: 5 | Record: 102-37 | NCAA Wins: 9 | Coach: Wright
The class of 2009 went to four NCAA tournaments, reaching the Sweet 16, Elite 8, and Final Four in three separate seasons. Each of those years, the team was ranked in the AP Poll, reaching as high as the #2 team in the country. They also won a share of the Big East Regular Season Championship in their freshman season. The star of the class, Dante Cunningham, led the team in scoring his senior season. He ranks 9th in blocks, 13th in rebounds, 15th in steals, and 37th in points All-Time for Villanova. His classmate, Dwayne Anderson, ranks 37th in career steals for the Wildcats.
7 Seed) Class of 2015: Darrun Hilliard, Tyrone Johnson, Markus Kennedy, JayVaughn Pinkston, Ash Yacoubou
True Seed: 28 | Record: 95-41 | NCAA Wins: 2 | Coach: Wright
The class of 2015 went to three NCAA tournaments, but never made it out of the first weekend. In their last two seasons, their teams ranked in the Top 3 of the AP Poll, reaching as high as #2 overall. Those two seasons, Villanova also won the Big East Regular Season Championship. In their senior year, the class set new school records for wins in a season and win% in a season, the later of which still stands. That final year, the team also won the school’s second Big East Tournament.
The stars of the class were sharp shooter Darrun Hilliard and big man JayVaughn Pinkston. Hilliard ranks 11th in steals, 28th in points, and 32nd in assists All-Time for Villanova. Pinkston ranks 17th in career blocks, 20th in career rebounds, 22nd in career points, and 30th in career steals for the Wildcats.
Thanks for voting! The polls for each round will close at midnight EST. Be sure to check back next time to vote on the Sweet 16 and find out who won today’s matchups. Data for the tournament was researched at villanova.com and sports-reference.com.