Rollie Massimino and his team didn’t just win in ’85… They inspired underdogs everywhere.
Long before March Madness, they defined just how far under an underdog could be: Odds-makers spotted them 10 points in the 1985 NCAA championship game against Georgetown, a team so intimidating that the fear it inspired had a name — Hoya Paranoia. Vendors at the arena sold shirts crowning Georgetown the victor before the game. None of it mattered. Villanova clamped on a full-court press, confounded Patrick Ewing in the paint, and methodically slowed the tempo. And the shooting? MVP Gary McLain didn’t miss a single basket, and from the opening tip to the final seconds, when Dwayne McClain sprawled out on the hardwood with one hand on the ball and the other raised in victory, 79 percent of the ’Cats’ attempts from the field were true — a tournament record that still stands. Rollie Massimino and his team didn’t just win in ’85. They inspired underdogs everywhere.
Originally published in Philadelphia Magazine, March 2008