Monday, March 30, 2009

Final Four Preview: Villanova/North Carolina Rivalry History - Part 2 - Michael Jordan Stops Villanova in the NCAA Elite Eight in 1982

To the Villanova Wildcats faithful-

Here is Part 2 of the Villanova/North Carolina Rivalry History...

I'm looking at these two games together - North Carolina's Elite Eight victory in 1982 and Villanova's upset victory in Chapel Hill in 1983 - because of the fact that it was largely the same cast of characters for Villanova, certainly, and likely the same for North Carolina, as well...

For Villanova, the team that lost in the Elite Eight in 1982 and won in Chapel Hill the following year contained Ed Pinckney, Gary McLain, and Dwayne McClain - i.e., the three best players on the team that won it all three seasons later, in 1985. They were freshmen in 1982. Other key players on the 1982 team were Frank Dobbs, Stewart Granger, Aaron Howard, Mike Mulquin, and one of the all-time Villanova greats, John Pinone.

March 1982 - Elite Eight - #1 North Carolina 70, #3 Villanova 60

This was the first of four meetings between the schools in the NCAA tournament. Ironically, just like this year, the first one came with the Tar Heels as a #1 seed and Villanova as a #3 seed (although in the same region, in 1982, since it was the Elite Eight).

The field consisted of just 48 teams then (although the end of that era was fast approaching, as the field would expand to 64 teams in 1985, three seasons later). There were byes in the first round for the high seeds.

Accordingly, top-seeded North Carolina and third-seeded Villanova were able to bypass the first round. The Wildcats waited to see the outcome of #6 St. Joseph's and #11 Northeastern, while the Tar Heels would face the winner of #8 Ohio State and #9 James Madison.

As it turns out, both lower seeds won in the first round. And so there was no Holy War rematch in the second round of the NCAA tournament - @ Nassau Coliseum on Long Island, NY, #3 Villanova played #11 Northeastern instead, and was caught in a real battle, winning just 76-72. North Carolina had an even worse scare, with JMU nearly pulling off a huge upset - the Tar Heels eked out a 52-50 victory.
The teams then visited Raleigh, NC - home of the rival NC State Wolfpack - for the Elite Eight.

In the Sweet 16, the Tar Heels held off #4 Alabama, 74-69, while the Wildcats bested #2 Memphis State (one of their NCAA-best 15 wins while the lower seed), 70-66.

The Wildcats - now led by Rollie Massimino - were hoping to reach their third Final Four and first since 1971, but were unable to get past a North Carolina team that featured such notables as James Worthy, Sam Perkins, and most famously, a freshman named Michael Jordan. The Tar Heels won, 70-60, and advanced to the Final Four. Once there, North Carolina got past a #6 seed, Houston, and defeated Georgetown (famously remembered as the game in which Georgetown's Fred Brown mistakenly passed the ball to a Tar Heel down the stretch...) to win the national championship for Dean Smith, the first of two he would capture.

However, during the regular season the following year (1982-83), Villanova would finally defeat North Carolina...

February 13, 1983 - Chapel Hill, NC - Villanova 56, North Carolina 53

Those Wildcats would go on to the Elite Eight for the second consecutive season - but would be stymied once more in that round. The Wildcats received another #3 seed and a first-round bye, as well another second-round scare from a double-digit seed. #11 Lamar nearly upset Villanova in the second round in Houston, TX, with the Wildcats escaping with a 60-58 victory and moving on to Kansas City for the Sweet 16.

In the Sweet 16, Villanova won another nailbiter over another lower seed - #7 Iowa - 55-54. But in the Elite Eight, they couldn't overcome the top seed, #1 Houston, and were blown out, 89-71.

For its part, North Carolina ended up with a #2 seed, and they also reached the Elite Eight, where they were beaten by #4 Georgia.

The 1983 Wildcats squad had the same nucleus as the 1982 edition, with two historically significant additions: Harold Pressley and Dwight Wilbur, who would start on the 1985 team.

Over the course of the week, I'll be writing up previous games in the all-time Villanova/North Carolina series, culminating the complete Villanova/North Carolina Rivalry History. And of course, there will be a comprehensive preview of Saturday's Final Four clash - so please check back for more...

In the meantime...

You can also take a look at the other Villanova blogs included in Various Viewpoints on the right sidebar, for their takes...

Go Wildcats!

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