On this day in 1985, in one of the greatest upsets in college basketball history, the Villanova Wildcats beat the Georgetown Hoyas, 66-64, to win the NCAA Men’s Division I tournament. The victory was Villanova’s first-ever national championship.
Over 23,000 college basketball fans gathered at Rupp Arena in Lexington, Kentucky, for the match-up between the Hoyas, who took home the NCAA championship in 1984, and the Wildcats, who finished the ’85 regular season tied for third place in the Big East conference. On their way to meeting the Hoyas, who were coached by John Thompson, the underdog Wildcats, coached by Rollie Massimino, beat No. 2-ranked Michigan, No. 5-ranked Memphis State and No. 7-ranked North Carolina in tournament play.
During the championship game on April 1, the Wildcats shot 79 percent from the field and nailed 22 of 28 shots, plus 22 of 27 free throws. Wildcats forward Dwayne McCain, the leading scorer, had 17 points and 3 assists. The Wildcats’ 6’ 9 ½” center Ed Pinckney outscored 7’ Hoyas’ center Patrick Ewing, 16 points to 14 and six rebounds to five and was named MVP of the Final Four.
In a March 16, 1987, Sports Illustrated article, Gary McLain, who played starting guard on the championship Villanova team, admitted to using cocaine during the 1985 Final Four tournament and during his team’s visit to the White House to celebrate their victory and meet President Ronald Reagan. McLain, who also confessed to selling drugs while at Villanova, implied that other Villanova players had used drugs, although he wouldn’t name them. McLain entered drug rehab after he was fired from his job on Wall Street for forging a check and company voucher to help support his addiction.