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Tournament Throwback: #8 Villanova vs. #1 Michigan (1985)

Villanova upset the region’s top-seeded Wolverines to stay alive

Given the cancelation of this year’s NCAA Tournament, we have decided to use the next few weeks to look back and remember Villanova’s greatest tournament successes of the past. We will be walking through Villanova’s three National Championships on a game-by-game basis. So, as you’re locked inside quarantining and social distancing, share your thoughts, memories, and stories as we relive Villanova’s greatest moments.

#8 Villanova Wildcats vs. #1 Michigan Wolverines

Second Round - Southeast Regional

March 17, 1985

Michigan Falls to Villanova


Villanova isn’t the biggest beast from the East, but it tamed the best from the Midwest, upsetting Michigan 59-55 Sunday in a second-round NCAA tournament game.

Michigan became the only top-seeded team in the four regionals not to advance, but Villanova wasn`t surprised that it eliminated the Big 10 champions, who were ranked No. 2 and had won 17 consecutive games.

Coach Rollie Massimino`s experienced team, which starts three seniors, showed its poise by not panicking while going scoreless for the opening 7 minutes 44 seconds of the second half. That drought enabled the Wolverines to build a 35-30 advantage, their biggest of the game.

Villanova never relinquished the lead after going up 38-37 on a free throw by Gary McLain with 7:32 left.

’’Thank God the shot clock was off,’’ said Massimino, whose Wildcats squeezed every possible second from each possession. ‘’These kids have been through this sort of thing before.’’

Villanova`s poise was evident at the free-throw line, where they hit 12 of 15 in the final 2:10. The Wildcats made 25 free throws in the game, compared to just three for the Wolverines.

’’We really had trouble adjusting to the slow pace,’’ said Michigan guard Antoine Joubert. ‘’We like to run, and we`re used to it. When we tried to get it inside to Tarpley, they were really sagging on him.’’

Joubert was the only consistent Wolverine scorer in the final minutes, but he fouled out with 1:48 remaining. Garde Thompson`s late marksmanship was negated by Villanova free throws.

Detroit Free Press

Villanova Upsets No. 2 Michigan; Syracuse Falls


Villanova’s experience paid big dividends today as the Wildcats upset Michigan, the nation’s No. 2-ranked team, in the second round of the N.C.A.A. basketball tournament’s Southeast Regional.

Led by its best seniors - Dwayne McClain, Ed Pinckney and Gary McLain - the Wildcats ended Michigan’s 17-game winning streak with a 59-55 victory before 13,260 fans in the University of Dayton Arena.

Thus the Big Ten champions became the first of the four regionals’ top-seeded teams to be eliminated in this 47th National Collegiate Athletic Association championship.

Villanova, seeded eighth in the Southeast, advanced to the regional semifinals Friday in Birmingham, Ala. The Wildcats will meet Maryland, which defeated Navy today, 64- 59.

Villanova Ousts Michigan, 59-55


DAYTON, Ohio — The Big Ten champion was no big deal to Villanova, a team that had been force-fed a regular diet of Georgetown, St. John’s and Syracuse.

“We heard it all,” guard Gary McLain said. “We heard all the time how we were playing the Big Ten champs, Michigan, how they were ranked No. 2 in the country and had a long winning streak and everything. But there’s nothing gonna intimidate us.”

Even the Wolverines’ front line, which regularly bulldozed through all comers and set the stage for the slick backcourt, was mincemeat for the Wildcats Sunday. Villanova, seeded eighth in the Southeast Regional, upset the Wolverines, 59-55, dismissing the bracket’s top seed and ending the Wolverines’ 17-game winning streak with an impressive display that rang of execution and experience.

PINCKNEY: Dwayne was our most athletic player, so we would all go into these games, and other teams would say, “This guy is a great athlete,” and we’d sit back and say, “I don’t know if they’ve seen Dwayne McClain, but boy, when they get a hold of him, it’s going to be an eye-opener.”

MCCLAIN: As a senior in the NCAA tournament, you lose you go home. So if someone wants to double Ed, we had good enough players around him to handle that. Whether it was Harold Pressley or Harold Jensen, Gary McLain, myself, Dwight Wilbur, we felt that if anyone gave us an advantage like that … yes you’re taking away our best player, but at the same time, you have to sacrifice something to do it, and that left me open on the perimeter and I made them pay.

MARBACH: You know how coaches have it in their mind how someone should shoot the ball or the form they should have? When Dwayne came to Villanova, he had this swing shot, over-the-head, rubber band type of jump shot and Coach Mass did try to change it, but it got to a point where him trying to change it wasn’t going to work, and the ball was going in. So Dwayne had a very unorthodox left handed jump shot, but he was very, very confident.

PINONE: Dwayne McClain was the kind of guy who, even if you were playing him in gin rummy or ping pong or darts, he was a competitor, just a winner. I don’t want to say he was in the shadow, but so much of the talk in the Big East was about Patrick Ewing or Chris Mullin or Pearl Washington, and Eddie Pinckney would get his share of that, too. And I think Dwayne was kind of like, “Hey, I’m a senior too, and I’ve had a really good career here, and I’m going to show everyone how I can play.”

Philadelphia Daily News

Philadelphia Inquirer