Michigan & Villanova: Fab 5 to the Miracle in ’85

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It’s Villanova against Michigan for the NCAA men’s basketball championship on Tuesday. Villanova, the best team all season – the Wildcats have been favoured in every game they’ve played – and Michigan, the hottest team at the moment, winners of 14 straight games.

Villanova is a relatively heavy favourite in this one, giving 6.5 points at the moment and you can check the markets here, remembering that odds are subject to change.

FACTS ABOUT MICHIGAN

Location: Ann Arbor, Michigan
Enrolment: 44,718
Famous former students: Tom Brady, Madonna, Lucy Liu, President Gerald Ford, Ted ‘The Unabomber’ Kaczynski

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(1) Michigan won its only men’s basketball championship in 1989 in Seattle’s Kingdome, which was imploded in the year 2000. Interestingly, on the eve of the tournament, head coach Bill Frieder told Michigan athletic director Bo Schembechler he had accepted a job at Arizona State. Schembechler fired Frieder on the spot, telling him famously “a Michigan man will coach a Michigan team.” Assistant Steve Fisher took over and led the Wolverines to the title, beating Seton Hall, led by a young Aussie (who looked old) named Andrew Gaze.

(2) Many of you probably know Chris Webber and Jalen Rose from their work on NBA broadcasts, but you might not know they were part of an unbelievable recruiting class called the ‘Fab Five’ (which also included Juwan Howard, Jimmy King and Ray Jackson) The Fab Five never won a title, losing in the 1993 championship game to North Carolina, a game that featured Webber calling a timeout the team didn’t have in a crucial situation.

The Fab Five did leave quite a legacy, however, in the way they dressed, particularly the big, baggy shorts that quickly came into favour around the country.

(3) Finally, what are the odds of two of your greatest players in school history having the last name Russell and a quirky first name that starts with ‘C’?  Cazzie Russell, who was the college player of the year in 1966 (and won an NBA title with the Knicks in 1970) is arguably in the top two or three all time Wolverines, while Campy Russell, who was an All American in 1973 and an All Star with the Cavaliers, is certainly in the top ten if not the top five.

FACTS ABOUT VILLANOVA

Location: Villanova, Pennsylvania (suburb of Philadelphia)
Enrolment: 10,842
Famous alumni: Kyle Lowry, Bradley Cooper, Toby Keith, Maria Bello, Howie Long

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(1) The 1985 stunning win over Georgetown is still arguably the biggest upset in tournament history. The Wildcats were eight-point underdogs against the seemingly-invincible Patrick Ewing-led Hoyas, but used a slowdown style of play and unbelievable shooting (22 of 28, 78%) to pull off an improbable 66-64 upset.

(2) It wasn’t nearly as big a shock, but the 77-74 win over North Carolina two years ago on a buzzer-beating shot by Kris Jenkins gave Villanova its second NCAA men’s basketball championship.

(3) The Wildcats came close to a first national title in 1971, when Howard Porter led them to the championship game where they lost to powerful UCLA. Porter was named MPV of the tournament after scoring 25 points in that game, but it was later taken away from him when it was revealed he’d signed with an agent during his senior year.

What do you think?