By Andy Backstrom, Co-Editor in Chief
I remember another Wildcats team.
During the 2014-15 NCAA season, the Kentucky Wildcats won 38 consecutive games, the SEC regular season title, the SEC tournament, the Midwest Regional title and fostered seven potential 2015 NBA draft picks. Despite the accolades, media attention and top-level recruits, John Calipari’s Kentucky team failed to capture a national title.
In college basketball, awards, scouting grades and seeding all prove to be meaningless when the whistle blows, starting the NCAA tournament. Villanova University proved it first in 1985 and proved it again in 2016.
Unlike Calipari’s 2014-15 Kentucky team, the Villanova Wildcats may not have superstar NBA talent on their roster. But at the end of the day, the real difference is that one team cut down the nets following a national championship – Villanova.
Not only was Villanova’s victory a triumph for the area surrounding campus, but it also was a testament to the impact of college basketball. The Kris Jenkins’ buzzer-beater shot offered Philadelphia something to celebrate; a rare occurrence in a city whose professional basketball team has won fewer games than the New England Patriots, Cincinnati Bengals, Denver Broncos, Kansas City Chiefs, Minnesota Vikings, Carolina Panthers and Arizona Cardinals in the past year, respectively (all NFL teams who play 16 games as opposed to the NBA’s 82-game schedule). On the national stage, it was eye-opening for all viewers. A small suburban university overtook the six-time national champion University of North Carolina (UNC) Tarheels. Not only were Marcus Paige, Kennedy Meeks, Brice Johnson and other current members of the UNC basketball program defeated, but so were the alumni – Michael Jordan, Bob McAdoo, Tyler Hansbrough, Vince Carter, Ty Lawson, etc.
Both Villanova national championships have had comparable effects on college basketball and the region. However, a lot has changed since 1985…
|Gallon of Gas: $1.09||Gallon of Gas: $2.07|
|Movie Ticket: $2.75||Movie Ticket: $8.70|
|Calvin and Hobbes debuts in newspapers||The Green Lantern comic series ends after 56 years|
|Nintendo releases NES||Nintendo contains to release games for their most recent console – WiiU|
|American-French exploration locates the RMS Titanic||Scientists find Hannibal’s route over the Alps by studying dung|
|Michael Jordan is named as the NBA “Rookie of the Year”||Kobe Bryant retires from the NBA|
|Back to the Future and Breakfast Club were released||Movies – The Revenant and Deadpool|
|Ronald Reagan was President||President – Barack Obama|
|First official heart transplant occurs||Stem Cell therapy predicted to end heart transplants|
|Coca-Cola changes formula and releases new Coke||Coca Cola’s non-soda sales overtake sales of Coke|
|Michael Phelps and Keira Knightley were born||Rainn Wilson and supermodel Cindy Crawford each turn 50|
|Microsoft Corporation releases Windows 1.0||Microsoft Corporation releases Windows 10|
|San Francisco 49ers beat the Miami Dolphins 38-16 in Super Bowl XIX||Denver Broncos beat the Carolina Panthers 24-10 in Super Bowl 50|
|Kansas City Royals defeat the St. Louis Cardinals 4-3 in the World Series||Kansas City Royals are defending World Series Champions|
|Edmonton Oilers win the Stanley Cup||No Canadian team makes the NHL playoffs|
Thirty-one years have seen a number of shifts in culture and lifestyle. But, the Pavillion, Villanova’s basketball arena, will be home to national championship banners for the rest of time.
Good Morning ‘Stoga captured the historic Villanova victory parade where Conestoga’s own Marching Pioneers performed for thousands.
Andy Backstrom can be reached at email@example.com