For Villanova fans, the summer season is all about two things: Updates on exciting recruiting battles, and debating about Villanova basketball. There’s only so many times you can speculate on next year’s team, so how about we take a look at the past in the return of VUHoops Summer Tournament.
Last year, we went through a full NCAA-style bracket to determine your favorite Villanova players of all time. While Ed Pinckney and Howard Porter made the Final Four, the Final came down to NCAA Champion Ryan Arcidiacono and Nova’s all-time leading scorer Kerry Kittles. Arcidiacono, fresh off his Final Four MVP, came away with the title. This summer, he’ll have some help defending it.
That’s right, this year we’re looking to crown your favorite Villanova Basketball class of the last 70 years. This felt appropriate as we just said goodbye to the winningest class in school history, made up of Josh Hart, Kris Jenkins, and Darryl Reynolds. Over the next few weeks you, the VUHoops readers, will vote in an NCAA style tournament on your favorite classes since 1950 is until we crown a Champion. Now let’s break down the details.
The first step in setting up this tournament was to determine how we wanted to group the classes. We decided to go with graduating class over recruiting class, but even there we had to make some exceptions. I did my best to place players where they made the most sense, for example Curtis Sumpter is included with the 2006 class, even though he played his last year at Villanova in 2007.
For players that left early or transferred out, I projected out what class they would have graduated in. For example, Kyle Lowry is in the 2008 class, even though he was drafted to the NBA after his sophomore season in 2006. For players that transferred in or red shirted, I included them with the class they would likely finish with or made the most sense. For example, Eric Paschall and Mikal Bridges are included with the class of 2019.
Lastly, the 50’s through the 90’s (basically pre-internet) became very difficult to find full class lists, let alone a supporting source to back them up. I’ll apologize in advance for anyone that’s misplaced or not included, but I think we’ve got all the big names in the right places. If you do see a correction that needs to be made, just let me know in the comments and I’ll do my best to adjust on the fly :)
This was almost an impossible task because we’re talking about people’s favorites. That could mean most wins, most fun, best dressed, or just guys that were nice to you that one time! So instead of trying to deal with any of that, I went with math. I based all of the seeding on two metrics: Win% and NCAA victories. It might not be the most accurate seeding method, but trust me it’s made for some crazy fun match-ups.
As for how that equation was applied to the teams, most teams before the 1976 class only had three years of eligibility. There were also a few classes after 1976, for example Kyle Lowry as the only member of the 2008 class, that were adjusted just to include the year’s that its members played. Like I said, you may not agree with all these seeds, but who has ever thought one of these was seeded perfectly?
The new aspect this season is that instead of doing each region by coaching era, I did a “true seed” system through the entire bracket. So now you’ll get match-ups like Tom Greis’s 1990 class vs. Bill Melchionni’s 1966 class in a first round 8v9 game. Hope you younger fans brought your history books!
The Play-In Round
Over the next four weekdays we’ll unveil a new region in the bracket each day, along with open the voting on those match-ups. Then we’ll progress to the 2nd Round, Sweet 16, Elite 8, and Final Four until we finally crown the champion as VUHoops’ favorite Villanova Basketball class.
But as you may have noticed, this is a 64-team tournament with 70 teams trying to earn spots. So let’s kick things off today with six play in match-ups to determine who fills out the bottom of the bracket:
Severance Region 16 Seed: Class of 1995 vs Class of 1959
Class of 1995: Kevin Cox, Jonathan Haynes, Ron Wilson
True Seed: 64 | Record: 67-54 | NCAA Wins: 0 | Coach: Massimino/Lappas
The Class of 1995 helped Villanova win its first NIT Championship in 1994, and in their senior season they won the Big East Tournament. In the ‘95 season, the team started the year ranked 22nd and climbed all the way up to 9th before losing in the first round of the NCAAs to Old Dominion. The class’s star player, Jonathan Haynes, transferred to Villanova after a single game playing for John Chaney at Temple and would be named a captain his junior and senior seasons. He’s currently ranked 10th in steals and 12th in assists All-Time for Villanova even though he only played for the Wildcats for three seasons.
Class of 1959: George Emma, Ken Harrison, Jim Kelly, Ralph Kowalkowski, Joe Ryan
True Seed: 65 | Record: 40-33 | NCAA Wins: 0 | Coach: Severance
The Class of 1959 earned Villanova’s first ever invitation to the NIT Tournament during their senior season, where they fell in the first round to future Big East rival St. John’s. During that ‘59 season, the team was ranked as high as 22nd on the AP poll and finished the year with five players averaging double digits. The class’s star, Joe Ryan, averaged 12.6 points over his career, and averaged double digit scoring in all three years he played for the Wildcats. Jim Kelly also averaged double digit scoring his senior season.
Wright Region 16 Seed: Class of 2003 vs Class of 2004
Class of 2003: Gary Buchanan, Lou Ruskey, Andrew Sullivan, Ricky Wright
True Seed: 63 | Record: 72-55 | NCAA Wins: 0 | Coach: Lappas/Wright
The Class of 2003 made four consecutive trips to the NIT tournament, reaching the Elite Eight in their junior year under new head coach Jay Wright. The class’s leading scorer, Gary Buchanan, averaged double digit scoring every season of his career and to date was Jay Wright’s most efficient 3-point shooter. He’s one of Villanova’s best All-Time players, ranking 12th in scoring, 18th in steals, and 22nd in assists. His running mate, Ricky Wright, was also one of Villanova’s best All-Time big men, ranking 16th in blocks, 21st in rebounds, and 47th in scoring.
Class of 2004: Andreas Bloch, Reggie Bryant, Aaron Matthews, Derrick Snowden, Jair Veldhuis
True Seed: 66 | Record: 70-59 | NCAA Wins: 0 | Coach: Lappas/Wright
The Class of 2004 reached four straight NIT tournaments, and advanced to the Elite Eight twice under new head coach Jay Wright. The class’s star, Derrick Snowden, led his teams in steals and assists in both his sophomore and junior seasons. He currently ranks 19th in steals and 21st in assists all-time at Villanova.
Massimino Region 16 Seed: Class of 2001 vs Class of 1977
Class of 2001: Michael Bosl, Chas Carey, Christopher Grier, Johnny Holley, Jermaine Medley, Marvin O’Connor, Simon Ogunlesi
True Seed: 62 | Record: 71-54 | NCAA Wins: 0 | Coach: Lappas
The Class of 2001 reached the NCAA tournament in their sophomore season, followed by two consecutive trips to the NIT. In all three post-season appearances though, their teams were only able to come away with a 1-3 record. The class’s star, Jermaine Medley, averaged 10.3 points per game his senior season and currently ranks 20th All-Time in Villanova assists.
Class of 1977: Chubby Cox, Larry Herron, John Olive, Joe Rogers, Gerard Trapp
True Seed: 67 | Record: 55-58 | NCAA Wins: 0 | Coach: Massimino
The class of 1977 reached the ‘77 NIT Final Four in their senior season before falling to St. Bonaventure. While they faced some early struggles under new head coach Rollie Massimino, they would set the table for the new coaches very successful tenure at Nova. The class’s stars, Larry Herron, John Olive, and Joe Rogers, combined to average 30.3 points per game over their careers and started every season for coach Mass. Herron ranks 26th in scoring and 36th in rebounds All-Time for the Cats. Olive comes in at 26th in rebounds and tied for 56th in scoring. Joe Rogers racked up 474 assists, good enough for 9th All-Time at Villanova.
Kraft Region 16 Seed: Class of 1993 vs Class of 1958
Class of 1993: Arron Bain, James Bryson, Calvin Byrd, Marty McCarthy, Lance Miller, Lloyd Mumford
True Seed: 61 | Record: 57-64 | NCAA Wins: 1 | Coach: Massimino/Lappas
The class of 1993 went to the NCAA tournament their first two seasons including being ranked 22nd in the AP Poll during their sophomore season, but never made it out of the first weekend. The next year, despite having a losing record, they made the NIT tournament only to lose in the first round. The class’s star, Lance Miller, led the team in scoring his final three seasons. He’s currently ranked 8th in steals, 18th in assists, 28th in rebounds, and 30th in scoring All-Time at Villanova. Fellow classmate James Bryson also ranks 21st All-Time in blocks.
Class of 1958: Matthew Brennan, Thomas Brennan, William Brennan, Jack Kelly, Gene O’Pella, John Scott
True Seed: 68 | Record: 36-38 | NCAA Wins: 0 | Coach: Severance
The class of 1958 never reached a major post-season tournament, but the trio of Jack Kelly, John Scott, and Thomas Brennan averaged 38.2 points per game during their senior season. Thomas Brennan, the only member of the class to start all three years on varsity, currently ranks 37th in rebounds All-Time at Villanova.
Kraft Region 15 Seed: Class of 1974 vs Class of 1976
Class of 1974: Dimitrus Alston, Jim Boylan, Mike Connelly, Jim Moody
True Seed: 60 | Record: 38-41 | NCAA Wins: 1 | Coach: Kraft/Massimino
The class of 1974 started playing varsity the year after Nova’s run to the 1971 national championship game. The ‘75 team would return to the NCAAs after ranking as high as 11th in the AP poll. But after falling to Penn in the Sweet 16, the team would have losing seasons the following two years. The class’s star, Jim Moody, averaged double digit scoring his first two seasons and currently ranks 45th All-Time in rebounds at the school.
Class of 1976: Allen Ferguson, Tom Guellich, Jeff McGeehin, Tom Melchionni, Mano Morales, Mike Stack
True Seed: 69 | Record: 43-62 | NCAA Wins: 0 | Coach: Kraft/Massimino
The class of 1976 was the first class at Villanova after the NCAA allowed freshmen to play at the varsity level. Unfortunately, the class was never able to get enough court time to take advantage of the new rule. The team never made a post-season tournament and only posted a single winning season in their senior year. The star of the class, Tom Melchionni, never averaged more than 5 points per game in a season. Classmate Mike Stack did start his freshman season, but quickly lost that role after his first year didn’t see much production.
Massimino Region 15 Seed: Class of 1994 vs Class of 1975
Class of 1994: Ray Dietz, Anthony Pelle
True Seed: 59 | Record: 59-61 | NCAA Wins: 1 | Coach: Massimino/Lappas
The class of 1994 were senior leaders of the ‘94 NIT Championship team. That is Ray Dietz was after Anthony Pelle transferred following his junior season. They also made the second round of the NCAA tournament their freshman year, and got to the NIT as sophomores. Dietz played a minimal role off the bench, while Pelle still ranks 14th in blocks All-Time at Villanova despite only playing there for three seasons.
Class of 1975: Jim Berrang, Ed Manning, Bob Sebastian
True Seed: 70 | Record: 27-51 | NCAA Wins: 0 | Coach: Kraft/Massimino
The class of 1975, along with the class of 1946, are the only two Villanova classes ever to have losing seasons in each year they played for the Wildcats. As you’d suspect, that also meant they never made a post-season tournament. While Berrang and Sebastian each cracked the starting line-up for one season a piece, they never amounted to anything more than role-players.
Thanks for voting! Be sure to check back tomorrow as we reveal and vote on the first round for the Severance Region. We’ll also announce the winners from today’s vote. Data for the tournament was researched at villanova.com and sports-reference.com.