BOSTON–They are here again, representing themselves as a national power and the top seeded team remaining in the NCAA tournament. They are also back in Boston, which has created a vault of memorable moments.
But the most dominant aspect of Villanova’s appearance in the NCAA East Regional which will be begin on Friday night is its connection with the Big East.
The Wildcats, in the most improbable of situations, were part of a Final Four of historic proportions in 1985 when they emerged as the national champion from a select group that also included Big East brethren Georgetown and St. John’s, both who were No. 1 seeds. Villanova was a No. 8 seed.
That was part of the original Big East, a league created by the late, great Dave Gavitt which, at its peak, can make a valid claim to the title of best basketball conference of all time.
Thirty one year later, Villanova, representing a new, smaller conference which emerged from the rubble of a conference which self destructed after a football-basketball family fight, emerged again as a national champion.
Although they didn’t repeat last season, under coach Jay Wright, the Wildcats are again on the cusp of basketball history, the best program in a conference where basketball, not football, is the main event.
Villanova (32-4) will tangle with No. 5 seed West Virginia in the first game of a doubleheader at the TD Garden, while No. 2 seed Purdue will meet No. 3 seed Texas Tech in the second game.
It is fitting that Wright is the architect of the current Wildcat surge. His Nova pedigree dates back to a stint as a Villanova assistant on Rollie Massimino’s staff–although not during Villanova’s first national championship season in 1985. He has been the head coach since 2001.
Nova’s presence as the elite team in the new Big East is unquestioned with 33, 35, 32 and 32 victories in the last four seasons, as well as the national championship, as solid evidence. The rest of this article is available to subscribers only – to become a subscriber click here.