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.
It was “upset” city yesterday as all four higher ranked teams, including two #1 seeds, went down in the final day of the Sweet 16. Joining the four National Champions in today’s Elite 8 are the classes of ‘71 (60.7%), ‘96 (56.3%), ‘97 (55.8%), and ‘06 (94.4%).
And that brings us to today’s star powered matchups. All but one of these teams has played in either the NCAA or NIT Championship, and six of those eight walked away victorious. But after today, only four will remain, and at least two NCAA Champions will have been eliminated.
#1 Class of ‘85 vs #2 Class of ‘19
1 Seed) Class of 1985: Brian Harrington, Dwayne McClain, Gary McLain, Ed Pinckney
True Seed: 1 | Record: 92-38 | NCAA Wins: 11 | Coach: Massimino
The Class of 1985 made up three of Villanova’s five starters in their senior season as they would end their tenure at Villanova by winning the NCAA National Championship. This wasn’t their only successful post-season, as they won at least one NCAA tournament game every year, including back to back trips to the Elite Eight their first two years on campus. They also made the finals of the Big East Tournament in their freshman year. They were ranked as high as 4th in the AP poll during their sophomore season, and were ranked during three of their four years at Nova.
Ed Pinckney was a four year starter, and is one of only three Villanova players to record 1,000+ points (1,865), 500+ rebounds (1107), 200+ assists (226), 100+ steals (196), and 50+ blocks (253). Dwayne McClain, another four year starter, currently ranks in the Top 30 All-Time in steals, assists, blocks, and scoring. The third star of this class, Gary McLain, is Top 10 All-Time in assists, and ranks 38th All-Time in steals.
2 Seed) Class of 2019: Mikal Bridges, Jalen Brunson, Eric Paschall
True Seed: 8 | Record: 67-9 | NCAA Wins: 7 | Coach: Wright
The class of 2019 has only played for two seasons, but they’ve arguably been two of the best seasons in school history. They’ve made the NCAA tournament in each season, winning the 2016 National Championship and entering the 2017 tournament as the #1 overall seed. They’re also currently on pace to have 134 career wins, which would be the most victories of any class in Villanova history. They’ve been ranked #1 in the AP Poll in each of their two seasons on campus, and last year’s team was ranked in the Top 4 for the entire season.
Even with only two years played, this class is already claiming spots on the All-Time lists. Jalen Brunson is currently tied for 32nd in assists while Mikal Bridges ranks 22nd in blocks and 39th in steals. Both should continue to climb up the All-Time ranks this upcoming season.
#1 Class of ‘17 vs #2 Class of ‘16
1 Seed) Class of 2017: Denny Grace, Josh Hart, Kris Jenkins, Darryl Reynolds
True Seed: 2 | Record: 129-17 | NCAA Wins: 9 | Coach: Wright
The Class of 2017 has so many accolades that it will be difficult to list them all here. They were the 2016 National Champions and they made four consecutive trips to the NCAA Tournament, coming in as the #1 overall seed their senior season. They won four consecutive outright Big East Regular Season Championships, a first for the school and the conference. They won two Big East tournaments, with Josh Hart being named the tournament Most Outstanding Player in each of those years. They went undefeated in four years of Big 5 play, another first for the school and the Big 5. The were on the first Villanova team to ever be ranked #1 in the AP Poll, and they were ranked in the Top 3 of the poll in every season they played at Villanova. They never finished a season ranked in the AP Poll any lower than 6th.
They also achieved a lot individually. In addition to the BET MOPs, Josh Hart was the 2017 Big East Player of the Year and a unanimous first team All-American. He also won the 2017 Julius Erving award as the nation’s best small forward. For Villanova, Hart ranks 10th in points, 14th in rebounds, 16th in steals, and 27th in assists All-Time. His teammate, Kris Jenkins, will forever be know for hitting the biggest shot in Villanova history to win the 2016 National Championship on a buzzer beater three. Jenkins ranks 36th in scoring, 40th in assists, and tied for 40th in steals All-Time for the Wildcats. The big man of the class, Darryl Reynolds, closed out his career tied for 18th All-Time in blocks for Villanova.
2 Seed) Class of 2016: Ryan Arcidiacono, Mislav Brzoja, Dylan Ennis, Patrick Farrell, Henry Lowe, Daniel Ochefu, Kevin Rafferty
True Seed: 7 | Record: 117-27 | NCAA Wins: 8 | Coach: Wright
The class of 2016 went to four consecutive NCAA Tournaments, winning the national championship their senior season. They were ranked in the Top 3 of the AP Poll in each of their last three seasons, including reaching the #1 rank for the first time in school history during their senior season. They won the 2015 Big East Tournament, and won three consecutive Big East Regular Season Championships.
The star of the class, Ryan Arcidiacono, was the 2015 Co-Big East Player of the Year and the 2016 Final Four Most Outstanding Player. He ranks 4th in assists, 14th in steals, and 21st in scoring All-Time for Villanova. His teammate, Daniel Ochefu, was the 2014 Co-Big East Most Improved Player, and currently ranks 5th in blocks, 7th in rebounds, 35th in steals, and tied for 61st in scoring All-Time for the Wildcats.
#5 Class of ‘06 vs #7 Class of ‘97
5 Seed) Class of 2006: Mike Claxton, Baker Dunleavy, Randy Foye, Jason Fraser, Allan Ray, Curtis Sumpter
True Seed: 19 | Record: 85-46 | NCAA Wins: 5 | Coach: Wright
The class of 2006 went to back to back NCAA tournaments, reaching the Sweet 16 and Elite 8. They also went to the NIT tournament the two previous seasons. In their senior season, they spent almost the entire season in the AP Top 5 and were Co-Big East Regular Season Champions.
This class was so talented, that every single member has gone on to either coach in the NCAA, coach in the NBA, or play in the NBA. Randy Foye was the 2006 Big East Player of the Year and a consensus first team All-American. He ranks 6th in steals, 9th in points, 14th in assists, and 33rd in rebounds All-Time for Villanova. Allan Ray, who ranks 7th in points and 21st in steals All-Time, is one of only eight Wildcats to score 2,000+ career points. Jason Fraser ranks 6th in blocks and 30th in rebounds All-Time despite battling injuries for most of his career. And Curtis Sumpter, whose career was delayed a season with a medical redshirt, ranks 13th in blocks, 15th in points, 16th in rebounds, and 32nd in steals All-Time.
7 Seed) Class of 1997: Chuck Kornegay, Jason Lawson, Zeffy Penn, Arthur Quarterman, Alvin Williams
True Seed: 27 | Record: 95-37 | NCAA Wins: 2 | Coach: Lappas
The class of ‘97 went to three straight NCAA tournaments, but never made it out of the first weekend. Their freshman season they were a part of the 1994 NIT Championship team, Villanova’s first ever NIT Championship. The class ranked in the AP Poll Top 10 in each of their three final seasons, ascending as far as #2 in the country their junior year. The stars of the class were guard Alvin Williams and big man Jason Lawson. Williams ranks 3rd in assists, 5th in steals, and 33rd in points All-Time for Villanova. Lawson is the school’s career leader in blocks with 375, also ranking 8th in rebounds and 25th in points All-Time for the Wildcats.
#4 Class of ‘71 vs #11 Class of ‘96
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.
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.
Thanks for your vote! Polls for each round will close at midnight EST. Be sure to check back next time for the Final 4. Data for the tournament was researched at villanova.com and sports-reference.com.