On April 1, 1985, in one of the most shocking upsets in college basketball history, Villanova beats heavily favored, Patrick Ewing-led Georgetown, 66-64, to win the NCAA basketball title. The Wildcats, led by Dwayne McClain’s 17 points, execute a perfect game plan and shoot 79 percent from the field in the win.
Georgetown, the No. 1 overall seed in the tournament, came into the game with a 35-2 record. The Hoyas had five future NBA players. Ewing, a 7-foot center and one of the most decorated college basketball players, was a senior and looking to cap his storied career with back-to-back national championships.
Villanova, which entered the tournament with a 19-10 record, won its first three tournament games by a combined nine points. The Wildcats had three future NBA players, led by senior forward Ed Pinckney, but they had lost twice to the Hoyas during the season. The title game was expected to be no different. But as Jere Longman of The Philadelphia Inquirer wrote, “Midnight never came for Cinderella.”
Before the game, Villanova coach Rollie Massimino said his team would need a perfect game to win. The Wildcats shot 22-for-28 from the field, including nine of 10 in the second half, and 22-for-27 from the free throw line. P.J. Carlesimo, the coach of rival Seton Hall at the time, later said it was “as close to the perfect game as any team [has played] ever.”
In addition to the incredibly efficient shooting, Villanova played excellent defense and deployed a wonderful game plan that got Ewing into foul trouble. The Wildcats also slowed the game. At the time, the NCAA did not have a shot clock—it added a 45-second clock for the 1985-86 season.
Ewing, who finished with 14 points, has lamented how his college career ended. “We made a mistake, turned the ball over, and the better team did not win the game,” he said years afterward. “I said it then, and I’ll say it now.”