Villanova’s championship earns it a spot on the PhillyPhanatics.com top 10 list of men’s college basketball postseason runs by local teams. Where do the Wildcats rank? Check out the list (below).
10.(tie) 1988, 1991, 1993, 1999, 2001 Temple (NCAA Elite Eight) – John Chaney’s teams often knocked at the door, but never made it to the Final Fou; 2013 La Salle (NCAA Sweet Sixteen) – La Salle was a bubble team that had to win a “play-in” game to claim the #13 seed, but ended up being a Sweet 16 team before losing to Wichita State in the tournament’s second week.
9.(tie) 1981, 2004 St. Joseph’s (NCAA Elite Eight) – The 1981 Hawks team, coached by Jimmy Lynam, shocked the nation by how far it went. Phil Martelli’s 2004 St. Joe’s team shocked the nation by going undefeated in the regular season, but fell one win short of the Final Four at the hands of Eddie Sutton’s Oklahoma State Cowboys.
8.(tie) 1956, 1958 Temple; 1961 St. Joseph’s (NCAA Final Four) – we’ll admit we were not born yet at that time, and the tournament field was smaller back then, but to make it to the “National Semifinal” (as that round was called) was a significant achievement.
7. 2009 Villanova (NCAA Final Four) – Jay Wright set the bar high for the Wildcats in 2009, and they delivered Villanova’s first-ever 30-win season, falling to North Carolina on the tournament’s final Saturday.
6. 1979 Penn (NCAA Final Four) – the furthest an Ivy League team has gone in the NCAA tournament, Bob Weinhauer’s Quakers were seeded #9 out of 10 teams in the East Regional, beat Iona in a play-in game, stunned top seed North Carolina at the Greensboro Coliseum 72-71, beat Syracuse and then improbably wore white when defeating St. John’s (the #10 seed) to get to Salt Lake City before being dismantled by Magic Johnson’s Michigan State team.
5. 1971 Villanova (NCAA runner-up) – This memorable run (which ended as did most teams’ runs of that era – with a loss to UCLA in the final game) was tainted by later revelations that star forward Howard Porter had signed a pro contract with the ABA during his senior season at Villanova. Not only was Porter stripped of his tournament Most Outstanding Player award, Villanova had to forfeit wins going back to December of 1970 when Porter signed the contract, and return $72,000 of NCAA tournament proceeds.
4. 1938 Temple (NIT champs) – The NIT was the pre-eminent tournament in its early days, and predated the NCAA tournament, which began in 1939.
3. (tie) 1954 La Salle (NCAA champs), 1952 La Salle (NIT champs) – One of each for the Explorers, in the day when the NCAA and NIT competed for teams with postseason invitations. Yes, Tom Gola was that great a player – they did later name La Salle’s arena after him, after all.
2. 2016 Villanova (NCAA champs) – Villanova won four games by double digits, including a record-setting 95-51 win over Oklahoma in the Final Four, beat top-ranked Kansas in the Elite 8, and capped off magnificent run with Kris Jenkins’ buzzer-beating 3-pointer in dramatic 77-74 triumph over North Carolina in championship game.
1. 1985 Villanova (NCAA champs) – Only 6 years after Penn’s improbable run, Villanova, which did have more firepower but also was a low seed (#8), rode their Cinderella story all the way to the championship. Villanova went on a run which included victories over Dayton on Dayton’s home court, Michigan, Maryland, North Carolina, Memphis State and finally over Patrick Ewing’s Georgetown Hoyas, 66-64, in last NCAA game played without a shot clock.
Honorable Mention – NIT appearances of note:
1969 Temple (NIT champs)
1994 Villanova (NIT champs)
1965 Villanova (NIT runner-up)
1967 La Salle (NIT runner-up)
1996 St. Joseph’s (NIT runner-up)
2005 St. Joseph’s (NIT runner-up)
“Enter the Dragons’ lair” – shop for Drexel gear here
“Fight with all your Might!” – shop for Temple gear here
“The Hawk will Never Die!” – shop for St. Joe’s gear here
“Hurrah for the Red and the Blue!” – shop for Penn gear here
“Virtue, Knowledge…and Hoops!” – shop for La Salle gear here