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Jack McCaffery is the lead sports columnist for the Daily Times and He has spent several decades covering everything from the Phillies, Eagles, Flyers and Sixers, to college hoops, to high school sports in Delco.

Thursday, March 19, 2015

Top 10 Big 5 NCAA Tournament games in history


Two national championships. Four championship-game appearances. Ten Final Fours. Such has been the NCAA Tournament haul for Philadelphiaa's Big 5 programs.
That success suggests multiple NCAA Tournament achievements, in early rounds and late, in modern and not-so-modern times.
Here, though, is one for the Top 10 NCAA Tournament games involving Big 5 teams. Let the critical rollouts unravel:
1. Villanova 66, Georgetown 64, April 1, 1985: The Wildcats shot 22-for-28 from the floor, 22-for-27 from the line and stunned the No. 1-seeded Hoyas for the national championship in Louisville, Kentucky.
With no three-point shot or shot clock at the time, Rollie Massimino concocted what is widely considered the most effective single-game plan in NCAA Tournament history, controlling the pace and keeping the game close enough to steal, even though the Wildcats had entered the tournament with 10 losses.
Dwayne McClain led the Wildcats with 17 points, but it was the 5-for-5 shooting of Harold Jensen that defined the moment.

2. La Salle 92, Bradley 76, March 20, 1954: Trailing, 43-42, at halftime, the Explorers dominated the second half to win Philadelphia's first NCAA championship in Kansas City. All-American Tom Gola was named the tournament's Most Outstanding Player, scoring 19 points in the final. But Frank Blatcher and Charles Singley scored 23 points apiece in the championship game.

3. St. Joseph's 49, DePaul 48, March 14, 1981: John Smith scored a layup with three seconds left, on a pass from Lonnie McFarlan on the baseline, and the Hawks stunned the top-seeded Blue Demons in a second-round game in Dayton.
Skip Dillard, renowned as a good free-throw shooter, had missed a front-end of a one-and-one, the Hawks pushed the ball and created the winning play.
The Hawks defeated Boston College in their next game, but fell to Indiana, leaving them short of the Final Four. But with the NCAA Tournament gaining televised popularity at the time, their upset was an earlier definition of what has become known as March Madness.

4. UCLA 68, Villanova 62, March 27, 1971: With a chance to catch UCLA in between the Lew Alcindor (Kareem Abdul-Jabbar) and Bill Walton eras, the Wildcats fell just short when center Steve Patterson went for 29 points and the Bruins won a fifth consecutive championship in Houston.
Howard Porter bagged 25 points --- and the Most Outstanding Player designation --- for the Cats.

5. San Francisco 77, La Salle 63, March 19, 1955: Trying to defend their national championship, the Explorers were stung by 24 points from K.C. Jones and 23 from Bill Russell in the NCAA Final in Kansas City. Singley scored 20 and Gola, the tournament's Most Outstanding Player, added 16 for La Salle.

6. Penn 72, North Carolina 71, March 11, 1979: Though the Quakers would win twice more, their second-round victory over the Tar Heels in Raleigh, N.C., signified their march to the Final Four.
Tony Price provided 25 points --- that, and a defensive rebound and long outlet pass to James Salters, who scored, was fouled and completed a three-point play for a four-point lead late.

7. Temple 60, Canisius 58, March 17, 1956: At the Palestra, the Owls rolled into the Final Four when Guy Rodgers scored 22 points.

8. Temple 69, Dartmouth 50, March 15, 1958: In Charlotte, N.C., Rodgers scored 17 points and the Owls reached the Final Four for the second time in three years.

9. St. Joseph's 96, Wake Forest 86, March 18, 1961: Also in Charlotte, Bill Hoy scored 20 and the Hawks advanced to their only Final Four.

10. Villanova 78, Pitt 79, March 28, 2009: In Boston, Scottie Reynolds' jump shot with two seconds left sent the Wildcats to the Final Four. Dwayne Anderson led the Cats with 17.