Villanova Wildcats men's basketball

The Villanova Wildcats men's basketball program represent Villanova University in men's college basketball and competes in the Big East Conference of NCAA Division I. Their first season was the 1920–21 season. Named the "Wildcats", Villanova is a member of the Philadelphia Big Five, five Philadelphia college basketball teams who share a passionate rivalry.

The Wildcats have won the National Championship three times: 1985, 2016, and 2018. Their 1985 NCAA championship as an 8 seed still stands as the lowest seed ever to win the title. The game is referred to as "The Perfect Game" as they shot a record 78.6% as a team for the game (22 for 28, including 9 for 10 in the second half). Their 2016 NCAA Championship is referred to as "The Perfect Ending" and became the second of only two NCAA Men's Championship games to be won on a buzzer beater when Kris Jenkins drained a shot as time expired. They made the Final Four in 1939, 1971, 1985, 2009, 2016, and 2018; their six Final Four appearances are 13th most all-time. As of 2019, they have an NCAA Tournament record of 65–37 (.637). Villanova has defeated six No. 1 seeds in the NCAA tournament (Michigan and Georgetown in 1985, Pittsburgh in 2009, Kansas and North Carolina in 2016, and Kansas in 2018), which is sixth most all-time. The Villanova Wildcats have appeared in the NCAA Tournament 39 times, the eighth highest total in NCAA history. They have won the Big East regular season championship eight times, most recently winning four straight from 2014 to 2017. They won the Big East Tournament in 1995, 2015, 2017, 2018, and 2019. Villanova entered the 2016–2017 season with an all-time winning percentage of (.648), placing the Wildcats tied for 13th among all NCAA Division I basketball programs. Through 2020, Villanova has 1,803 wins, which is 23rd among Division I men's basketball teams. Villanova has won the Philadelphia Big Five 27 times, and is tied with Temple University for the most of any team, including five straight from 2014 to 2018. The Wildcats have appeared in the National Invitation Tournament 17 times, winning in 1994.

By the Numbers

Villanova National Championship banners hanging in the rafters of the Wells Fargo Center in South Philadelphia. The Wildcats play select home games at the Wells Fargo Center
  • NCAA National Championships – 3
  • NCAA Championship Game appearances - 4
  • NCAA Final Four – 6
  • NCAA Elite Eight – 14
  • NCAA Sweet Sixteen – 18
  • NCAA Tournament Appearances – 39
  • National Coach of the Year – 2
  • Conference Regular Season Championships – 12
  • All-Americans – 20
  • Weeks Ranked as AP #1 Team – 19
  • 30-Win Seasons – 5
  • Philadelphia Big 5 Championships – 25
  • Philadelphia Big 5 Player of the Year – 20
  • Winning Seasons – 78


Early years (1920–1936)

Villanova began its varsity basketball program in 1920. Michael Saxe coached for six seasons, from 1920 to 1926, compiling a 64–30 record (.681). John Cashman coached three seasons, from 1926 to 1929, compiling a 21–26 record (.447). George "Doc" Jacobs coached seven seasons, from 1929 to 1936, and had a 62–56 record (.525).

The team played its first game in 1920 in Alumni Hall on Villanova's campus, beating Catholic University 43–40. In the early years, Villanova's home courts were Alumni Hall and West Catholic High School. In 1932, The Wildcats moved into the Villanova Field House—now known as the Jake Nevin Field House, which was named after Villanova's long-time trainer. Villanova also played many home games at the Palestra on the campus of the University of Pennsylvania beginning in 1929. The Wildcats played home games in both the Villanova Field House and the Palestra until 1986.

Al Severance era (1936–1961)

Al Severance coached Villanova for 25 seasons, from 1936 to 1961. It was under Severance's leadership that Villanova's basketball program rose to prominence. Severance compiled a 413–201 record (.673).

The 1938–39 team won the first-ever NCAA Tournament game, which put them in the inaugural Final Four. Severance led the Wildcats to the NCAA Tournament again in 1949, 1951, and 1955. Villanova earned NIT bids in 1959 and 1960.

The most storied player in Villanova history, Paul Arizin, played during this era. Severance discovered Arizin, already a Villanova student, playing basketball in the Villanova Fieldhouse. Arizin holds the Villanova record for most points in a game (85), and is credited with inventing the jump shot and was the 1949 College Player of the Year. Other notable players from the Severance era include Joe Lord, Larry Hennessy, Bob Schafer and George Raveling.

Coincidentally, Severance died on April 1, 1985, which was the same day that Villanova upset Georgetown University and Patrick Ewing to take the NCAA basketball championship.

1939 Final Four

The inaugural NCAA Tournament featured eight teams from throughout the country. Villanova, representing the Middle Atlantic States, beat Brown, representative of the New England States, 43–40 before a crowd of 3,500 at the Palestra. The following night, the Wildcats lost to Ohio State 53–36 in the Eastern Division Championship.

Jack Kraft era (1961–1973)

Jack Kraft coached Villanova for 12 years, from 1961 through 1973. He compiled a 238–95 record (.715). Kraft led Villanova to the NCAA Tournament six times, and five times to the NIT. Only once did Kraft's teams fail to earn a post-season bid, in his final season.

Notable players during the Jack Kraft era include: Chris Ford, Tom Ingelsby, Wali Jones, Bill Melchionni, Howard Porter, Jim Washington, and Hubie White.

1971 NCAA Finalist

On March 27, 1971, Villanova made its first appearance in an NCAA basketball tournament championship game. The unheralded Wildcats took on the legendary John Wooden and his mighty UCLA Bruins. The 28–1 UCLA squad featured Sidney Wicks, Curtis Rowe, Henry Bibby, and Steve Patterson. Going into the title game, the Bruins had won six of the previous seven NCAA championships, including the previous four.

Jack Kraft's Villanova squad, nicknamed the "Iron Men", was made up of just nine players. Led by Howard Porter, Clarence Smith, Hank Siemiontkowski, Chris Ford, Tom Ingelsby, Bob Gohl, Mike Daley, John Fox and Joe McDowell. Villanova amassed a 27–6 record, including a shocking 90–47 victory over a previously undefeated powerhouse Penn squad.

Villanova fought from behind for most of the game, twice cutting the lead to three in the final minutes. Villanova lost by six, 68–62. Up to that time, the six-point loss was the narrowest spread of UCLA's six NCAA title game victories.

Despite the loss, Villanova's Howard Porter was named the Tournament's Most Outstanding Player. Porter was later stripped of the award and the team's NCAA victories were vacated after it was discovered that Porter had violated NCAA rules because he had signed a professional contract with the Pittsburgh Condors of the American Basketball Association during the middle of his senior year.

Rollie Massimino era (1973–1992)

During Rollie Massimino's tenure, the Villanova Wildcats abandoned their traditional independent status by joining the newly formed Eastern Eight Conference in 1975. In 1980, the 'Cats moved into the new Big East Conference, along with Georgetown, St. John's, and Syracuse. The 1980s were the golden age of the Big East, highlighted by the 1985 NCAA Tournament, when Villanova, Georgetown, and St. John's reached the Final Four.

Massimino's teams had tremendous success in the NCAA Tournament, usually in an underdog role. Coach Massimino led the Wildcats to the NCAA Tournament eleven times, winning in 1985. His teams reached the Elite Eight five times in an 11-year span: 1978, 1982, 1983, 1985, and 1988. Coach Massimino's teams were well-prepared for the Tournament, always playing a difficult schedule, and playing tenacious defense. Massimino lost their opening game in the NCAA Tournament only once, to Shaquille O'Neal and Chris Jackson-led LSU in 1990 and he remarkably never lost to a lower seeded team.

Massimino coached for 19 seasons at Villanova, compiling a record of 357–241 (.596). In the NCAA Tournament, Massimino had a 20–10 record (.667).

Notable players from the Massimino era include Alex Bradley, Stewart Granger, Keith Herron, Dwayne McClain, Harold Jensen, Ed Pinckney, John Pinone, Harold Pressley, Rory Sparrow, and Doug West.

In 1976, the Wildcats played their first game in the Spectrum in Philadelphia. Because of the greater seating capacity, the 'Cats generally played a few home games each year at the Spectrum until the opening of what is now known as the Wells Fargo Center. Villanova christened its current home court as John Eleuthère du Pont Pavilion, now the Pavilion, with a 64–62 victory over Len Bias led Maryland squad on February 1, 1986.

1985 National Champions

In 1985, under the direction of coach Rollie Massimino, the men's basketball team completed one of the most surprising runs in NCAA tournament history by winning the national championship in the first year of the 64-team field. The eighth-seeded Wildcats (unranked in the final AP poll) beat Dayton (at Dayton), top-seeded Michigan, Maryland and second-seeded North Carolina to win the Southeast Regional en route to the Final Four in Lexington, Kentucky. After defeating 2-seed Memphis State in the national semifinals, Villanova met defending champion and ten-point-favorite Georgetown, led by Patrick Ewing, in the title game on April Fools' Day.

Top-seeded Georgetown had beaten conference rival Villanova twice during the regular season, and had reached the title game with tenacious defense, which gave up less than 40% of their opponents' shots from the field in both the regular season and the postseason. Before the championship game, Massimino told his team they had to play a perfect game in order to beat Georgetown. In perhaps the greatest shooting performance in NCAA history, the Wildcats went 22-of-28 from the field to convert a blistering 78.6% of their shots, including a second half where they missed only one basket. The Hoyas hung tough, converting 55% of their 53 attempts, but were unable to overcome the astounding shooting performance as Villanova won 66–64 to claim the NCAA championship. The Wildcat squad remains the only eight-seed and the lowest overall seed in tournament history to win the championship, and their overall team shooting percentage remains an NCAA tournament record for a single game. The game is often cited among the greatest upsets in college basketball history. Ed Pinckney, who shot 5-of-7 and had 16 points in the game, was named the tournament's Most Outstanding Player. This game is featured in the book The Perfect Game by Frank Fitzpatrick.

Steve Lappas era (1992–2001)

Lappas compiled a very respectable record of 174–110 (.613) during his years at Villanova. The 1994 and 1995 teams, led by Kerry Kittles, Jason Lawson, Eric Eberz, and Alvin Williams, won the NIT and Big East Tournaments, respectively. The 1995 Big East Tournament title was capped by a decisive victory over a Connecticut team that had been ranked Number 1 during the regular season before being defeated on the Huskies home court by Villanova. This represents the one and only time Villanova won the original Big East Tournament before the Conference was reconfigured in 2013. However, five nights after their victory in the 1995 Big East Championship, the Wildcats lost a triple-overtime thriller to underdog Old Dominion on St. Patrick's Night in Albany, New York in a 1st round NCAA game many Villanova fans consider the most painful loss in Villanova history.

Under Coach Lappas, Villanova reached the NCAA Tournament in 1995, 1996, 1997, and 1999, compiling a disappointing 2–4 record and never advancing beyond the Second Round. After a 2001 First Round NIT loss at Minnesota, junior center Michael Bradley announced he was forgoing his final year of eligibility to enter the NBA draft, essentially leaving Villanova without a returning star player. Shortly thereafter, Hofstra coach and former Massimino assistant Jay Wright became available, and the Administration decided a coaching change would benefit all parties. Lappas left Villanova to pursue other opportunities, ultimately becoming a respected television analyst for CBS coverage of NCAA basketball, and has been welcomed back with open arms to the Villanova basketball family.

Notable players in the Lappas era include Michael Bradley, Kerry Kittles, Jason Lawson, Tim Thomas, John Celestand and Alvin Williams and Eric Eberz.

During the Lappas-era, Villanova began playing a few major home games at the Wells Fargo Center beginning in 1996. Villanova's first game in the new arena was a December 1996 loss to the Duke Blue Devils. Wells Fargo Center was known as the CoreStates Center, the First Union Center, and the Wachovia Center before it adopted the Wells Fargo Center name.

Jay Wright era (2001–present)

Jay Wright was named Villanova's head coach in 2001. As Rollie Massimino's assistant from 1987 through 1992, he was well-acquainted with Villanova. Prior to his hiring by Villanova, Wright was head coach at Hofstra.

Villanova earned a post-season tournament berth in each of Wright's initial ten seasons as Villanova head coach before missing in 2011–12. The Wildcats played in the NIT in 2002, 2003, and 2004, and in 14 of 15 NCAA Tournaments since 2005. Wright's Villanova teams have reached 6 Regionals, 3 Final Fours and have won 2 National Championships. During Wright's tenure, Villanova has compiled a 21–11 record in the NCAA Tournament, crowned with the 2016 and 2018 National Championships. Six of Wright's NCAA Tournament losses at Villanova have been to the eventual National Champion. One of the highlights of his tenure was an amazing run to the 2009 Final Four when Villanova beat #1 seeded Pittsburgh to win the Elite 8 on a coast-to-coast buzzer beating layup by team captain Scottie Reynolds. Villanova subsequently lost the national semifinals to eventual NCAA Champion North Carolina.

Strong starts to the 2009–10 and 2010–11 seasons were followed by struggling finishes. Villanova barely beat Robert Morris in overtime before taking losses at the hands of St Mary's (2010) and George Mason (2011) in NCAA Tournament play. Villanova had a rebuilding 2011–12 season, compiling a 13–19 record and missing a post-season bid for the only time in Wright's tenure.

A young nucleus in 2012–13 was a portent of future glory and saw the Wildcats make a return trip to the 2013 NCAA tournament where they fell to once-and-future foe North Carolina. Still, a #2 seed in 2013–14 and a #1 seed in 2014–15 preceded second round NCAA exits at the hands of UCONN (2014) and N.C. State(2015) causing Nova Nation some well-publicized consternation. The 2016 and 2018 Championship runs put the "underachiever" tag to the sword, cementing Wright's Villanova legacy as the program's greatest mentor. The 2016 National Championship victory was accomplished on the strength of Kris Jenkin's NBA-range 3 point buzzer bomb, thwarting North Carolina (who else?). The 2018 Championship win over Michigan culminated a six-game NCAA tournament run in which no opponent finished within a dozen points of the Wildcats.

Notable players during the Jay Wright era include Randy Foye, Kyle Lowry, Dante Cunningham, Allan Ray, Mike Nardi, Will Sheridan, Curtis Sumpter, Scottie Reynolds, Corey Fisher, JayVaughn Pinkston, Darrun Hilliard, 2016 champions including Final Four most outstanding player Ryan Arcidiacono, Daniel Ochefu, Kris Jenkins and Josh Hart. Four Villanova players from the 2018 championship team were drafted by the NBA—national player of the year and Final Four most outstanding player Jalen Brunson, Mikal Bridges, Donte Devincenzo and Omari Spellman. National title holdovers Phil Booth and Eric Paschall keyed Villanova' surprising run to the 2019 Big East Regular Season and Tournament Championships. In the 2019 NCAA Tournament, six seed Villanova gained a measure of revenge against St. Mary's with a First Round victory followed by a loss to Purdue, a strong 3 seed, in the Second Round. Booth ended his Villanova career as the all-time winningest player in program history with 2 national titles and 4 Big East Tournament Championships (2015, 2017, 2018, and 2019).

2004–05 season

Under coach Jay Wright, Villanova's men's basketball team reached the 2005 NCAA Tournament Sweet 16, defeating New Mexico and Florida before losing to #1 seed and eventual champion North Carolina by one point. Junior Forward Curtis Sumpter was injured in the Florida game and did not return to the court until the 2006–07 season. There is controversy surrounding a disputed traveling call against Allan Ray made in the closing seconds of the UNC game. With under a minute left and Villanova down by three, Ray drove and made a shot. There was contact with a UNC defender and a whistle. Most assumed the whistle signified a foul on Carolina, giving Ray a chance to tie the game with the resultant free-throw. Incredibly, the officials ruled that Ray committed a traveling violation prior to taking the shot, negating the basket, and rendering Kyle Lowry's buzzer beating 3 pointer a mere footnote to a painful loss. In an ironic twist of fate, Booth, late in the 2016 National Championship game (also against North Carolina), made a crucial "and one" three point opportunity denied Alan Ray 12 years earlier.

2005–06 season

Led by senior guards Randy Foye and Allan Ray as well as sophomore guard Kyle Lowry, the Villanova men's basketball team began the 2005–2006 year ranked #4 in the major polls from USA Today and the Associated Press. Having lost only three regular season games, the Wildcats enjoyed a #1 seed in the 2006 tournament—their first. The Wildcats' wins over Monmouth, Arizona, and Boston College brought them back to the Elite Eight for the first time since 1988. Villanova's 75–62 upset loss in Minneapolis to eventual champion Florida ended the team's run toward a Regional Final. The loss to Florida was the second consecutive year that Villanova was eliminated in the NCAA Tournament by the eventual national champion. The Wildcats' 28 wins during the 2006 campaign was the second most victories for any Villanova Men's Basketball team at that time. Foye, Ray and Lowry all entered the NBA following the season.

2006–07 season

Wright's 2006–2007 team was composed mainly of freshmen and sophomores who, at times, struggled to mesh. The Wildcats improved throughout the season, due in large part to the emergence of freshman Scottie Reynolds. Villanova finished the 2006–07 season with a record of 22–11. The Wildcats earned an at-large bid to the 2007 NCAA Tournament, where they lost in the second round to the Kentucky Wildcats. Villanova's 2006–07 free throw percentage of .781 led the NCAA, and set a Villanova season record.

2007–08 season

The 2007–08 campaign was an erratic one for the young Wildcats, a team with no seniors. After a promising 9–1 start, Villanova had a rough start to its Big East season. In mid-season, the Wildcats lost five consecutive games by double digits and lost 6 of 7 games during a 3-week span in the middle of the season, as the freshmen struggled to adjust to the college game, and the experienced players encountered difficulties in adjusting to leadership positions. In February and March, as the players became more comfortable within Coach Wright's system, and with improved defense, the team began to win.

A win against Syracuse in the Big East Tournament was good enough for the Wildcats to secure one of the final at-large bids to the NCAA Tournament. Villanova proved it was worthy of the bid when an upset over Clemson and a victory over Siena put them in the final 16 teams in the tournament, where they lost to eventual National Champion Kansas.

2008–09 season

Most notable in the 2008–09 season was the rise to prominence of senior forward Dante Cunningham. Cunningham averaged 16.1 points per game, an increase of nearly 6 points over the previous season. He also managed to average 7.5 rebounds, 1.2 blocks, and 1.2 steals per game. Cunningham was honored as the Big East Most Improved Player. His teammate, tenacious sophomore guard Corey Fisher, was also honored as the Big East Sixth Man of the Year for his contributions off the bench.

The Wildcats finished the regular season with a mark of 26–7, earning a school record for most regular season victories. They lost their final regular season game to the Louisville Cardinals, 69–55, in the fourth round, or semi-finals of the Big East Tournament. The Wildcats began the NCAA Tournament at the Wachovia Center, a secondary venue for home games. They survived an early scare by American to handily beat two of college basketball's most prestigious programs, UCLA and Duke, in the rounds of 32 and 16 by a combined margin of 43 points.

Villanova won a very close match up against number 1 seed Pittsburgh in the Elite 8 round of the tournament, with guard Scottie Reynolds racing down the court to make a layup with only 0.5 seconds left. Pitt took the final shot, which bounced off the backboard to end the game. The last-second basket by Reynolds was widely hailed as one of the most exciting plays of that year's tournament, with Sports Illustrated's Seth Davis calling the victory "one of the great games in NCAA tournament history". Villanova advanced to the Final Four where they faced the North Carolina Tar Heels. Villanova fell to the Tar Heels in the National Semifinals at Ford Field in Detroit, Michigan, by a final score of 83–69. This was the fourth time in five years that Villanova's tournament ouster was by the eventual national champion.

The Wildcats' record of 30–8 broke a previous high for most victories in a season, a distinction previously held by the 2005–06 Wildcats squad. The senior class of 2009, composed of forwards Dante Cunningham, Shane Clark, Dwayne Anderson and Frank Tchuisi, earned the distinction of being the winningest senior class in school history.

2009–10 season

The Wildcats enjoyed another highly successful regular season, finishing with a record of 24–7 and earning a #2 Seed in the NCAA Tournament. They lost in the first round of the Big East Tournament to Marquette and required overtime to defeat 15th seeded Robert Morris University in the opening round of the NCAA Tournament. The Wildcats were defeated in the 2nd round by the 10th seeded St. Mary's Gaels.

Scottie Reynolds ended his career as the second-leading scorer in Villanova history with 2,222 points, 21 points short of breaking Kerry Kittles's all-time record. He finished his college career with 472 assists and 203 steals. Reynolds was named to the 2010 AP All-American 1st team, but was not selected in the NBA draft.

2016 National Champions

The Wildcats enjoyed another highly successful regular season and held the AP #1 ranking in the nation for the first time in school history over a 3-week period. They finished the regular season with a 27–4 record losing only to teams (Oklahoma, Virginia, Providence, Xavier) that were ranked at the time of the match-up. Villanova finished Big East Conference play 16–2 for the third year in a row also garnering their 3rd straight outright Regular Season Conference Title. After losing in the Big East Tournament Championship Game to Seton Hall, 69–67, the Wildcats earned a 2 seed in the NCAA Tournament South Region where they dispatched the #15 seeded UNC Asheville by 30 points, followed by a 19-point win over #7 seed Iowa. After defeating #3 seed Miami by 23, they moved on to the Elite Eight to face the overall #1 seed Kansas Jayhawks. The Wildcats defense shined as they won by 5 points to advance to their 5th Final Four and the first since 2009. They faced #2 seed Oklahoma Sooners, who had beaten Villanova by 23 on December 7, 2015, at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii early in the season. In the National Semi-Finals, Villanova beat the Sooners by 44 points (an NCAA Final Four record) to advance to the NCAA Championship for the first time in 31 years. They faced the second-overall #1 seed North Carolina Tar Heels for the championship. On April 4, Villanova defeated UNC on a game-winning three-point shot at the buzzer by Kris Jenkins to win the NCAA Championship by a final score of 77–74, winning their second NCAA championship. UNC had recovered from a 10-point deficit in the final five minutes to tie the game on an off-balance, double-clutch three-point shot that passed through the net with 4.7 seconds left, leaving the Wildcats one last chance to clinch a victory before overtime. Kris Jenkins inbounded the ball to four-year team captain Ryan Arcidiacono, who dribbled down court, passed the ball and set a bubble screen to assist Jenkins' game-winning shot. Coach Jay Wright credits the play to the "Wildcat minute", where the team practices late-game scenarios at every practice. The game has been called one of the greatest in the history of NCAA Tournament Championships.

Villanova ended the 2016 season at 35–5 including the unanimous #1 ranking in the final Coaches' Poll (USA Today) while capturing their 2nd NCAA basketball championship trophy in the history of the program. In beating #3 seed Miami (AP #10), #1 seed Kansas (AP #1), #2 seed Oklahoma (AP #7) and #1 seed UNC (AP #3), Villanova became the first school in 31 years — since the 1985 Villanova Wildcats — to not only beat four top-three seeds on the way to a national title but to also beat four straight opponents ranked in the AP top 10, in addition to beating AP-ranked Iowa in the Round of 32. Villanova's run included two of the ten most offensively efficient games in the analytics era (2002–present), beating Miami and Oklahoma by scoring 1.56 and 1.51 points per possession in the Sweet Sixteen and Final Four, respectively. It has been called perhaps the most dominant tournament championship run of all time, and the most dominant of the analytics era by a wide margin, with Villanova posting an average margin of victory equal to 20.7 points per game (+124 total point margin).

2018 National Champions

Championship parade in Center City, Philadelphia on April 5, 2018

The Wildcats finished second in regular season Big East play, won the Big East tournament, and were undefeated in non-conference play. They were awarded the top seed in the East Regional for the NCAA tournament. They reached the Final Four with wins over 16 seed Radford, 9 seed Alabama, 5 seed West Virginia and 3 seed Texas Tech with each victory coming by double-digit margins. In the National Semifinals they faced the Kansas Jayhawks, the one seed from the Midwest Region, and defeated them 95–79. In this game Villanova set the new record for successful 3-point attempts in a Final Four game (breaking the previous full-game record before reaching halftime, finishing with 18 total made attempts). In the NCAA Tournament Championship Game they played the Michigan Wolverines, the 3 seed from the West Region. The Wildcats earned their third national championship in school history by beating the Wolverines 79–62. The game saw a historic performance by Big East Sixth Man of the Year Donte DiVincenzo (31 points, 5 rebounds, 3 assists, 2 steals and 2 blocks), named the 2018 Final Four's Most Outstanding Player. Coach Wright led the team to a 36–4 record for the 2017–18 season (14–4 Big East). The 36–4 mark sets the record for most wins in any Villanova season. Jalen Brunson received the Wooden Award as well as Associated Press and Naismith National Player of the Year Awards for his season leading the Wildcats. Mikal Bridges was presented the Julius Erving Award as the nation's best small forward—the second straight year a Villanova player achieved that honor after Josh Hart won it in 2017. Jay Wright was named winner of the John R. Wooden Legends of Coaching Award.

Awards and honors


NCAA Tournament history

Villanova has appeared in 39 NCAA Tournaments, beginning with the first in 1939. The Wildcats have amassed a tournament record of 65–37 (.637), and were the national champions in 1985, 2016, and 2018. Their three titles tie Kansas for the 7th most of any program. They have reached the Final Four five times, tied for fifteenth most. Villanova has won as the underdog (based on Tournament seeding) 16 times, more than any other program, and they are the highest seed (8) to ever win the NCAA tournament (1985). Villanova is one of only two programs (the other being Ohio State) that has played in the NCAA Tournament in every decade since the 1930s.

NCAA Tournament Seeding History

The NCAA began seeding the tournament with the 1979 edition.

NIT history

The Wildcats have appeared in the National Invitation Tournament (NIT) 17 times. Their combined record is 24–17. They were NIT Champions in 1994.

National Campus Basketball Tournament results

The Wildcats appeared in the only National Campus Basketball Tournament. Their record is 0–1.

Year-to-year history

  • Due to NCAA violations, Villanova vacated its 4–1 record in the NCAA Tournament that year

Basketball Hall of Fame

Retired numbers and jerseys

Villanova honors outstanding former players, coaches, and others by retiring their numbers or jerseys. For those honored, a replica jersey is hung in the rafters of the Pavilion. Uniform numbers of retired jerseys remain in circulation, while retired numbers are no longer used. Paul Arizin's #11 is the only retired number. As of 2019, 21 have been honored with a retired number or jersey, including 16 players, four coaches, and longtime trainer Jake Nevin.

The honorees include:

Villanova career records

All-time leaders






Wildcats in the NBA/ABA

Villanova's All-Time NBA/ABA roster

Members of professional championship teams

  • 1948 Baltimore Bullets (BBA) – Herman "Red" Klotz
  • 1956 Philadelphia Warriors (NBA) – Paul Arizin, Larry Hennessy
  • 1967 Philadelphia 76ers (NBA) – Wali Jones, Bill Melchionni
  • 1974/1976 New Jersey Nets (ABA) – Bill Melchionni
  • 1981 Boston Celtics (NBA) – Chris Ford
  • 2000 Los Angeles Lakers (NBA) – John Celestand
  • 2019 Toronto Raptors (NBA) – Kyle Lowry

Villanova players currently in the NBA

Villanova records in the NBA

Villanovans drafted


Big East

Some Villanovans count Georgetown as their most intense rivalry, having played a historic NCAA Championship game and many competitive Big East Tournament and regular season games against the Hoyas. Other rivals from the Big East Conference include founding members of the original Big EastProvidence (an eastern rivalry which predates the original Big East) and St. John's, plus Syracuse who left the Big East as part of its 2013 split ACC.

Seton Hall has played Villanova more than any other school; due to the proximity of the schools and a series of memorable games since the formation of the new Big East, this has become one of Villanova's top rivalries each season. Games have included critical Seton Hall upsets in 2013, the 2014 Big East Tournament, Villanova's first loss of 2015, and the 2016 Big East Tournament championship as well as a Villanova blowout in a game that resulted in Seton Hall guard Sterling Gibbs punching Villanova guard Ryan Arcidiacono in 2015 and a narrow victory in the closing seconds of the 2017 Big East Tournament semifinals.

Big Five

Villanova along with Saint Joseph's University, La Salle University, Temple University, and University of Pennsylvania banded together to create the Philadelphia Big 5 in 1954–55. From that date until the mid-1970s all Big 5 games were contested at the Palestra (cap. 9,208) on Penn's campus. The Five competed in a round-robin City Series. Additionally, all participated in numerous doubleheaders against non-Big 5 opponents. Most games were televised locally on WPHL-TV, broadcast by Harry Kalas.

Since the beginning of the 1996–1997 season, Villanova has won 15 out of 21 Big 5 titles. They currently have 25 total Big 5 titles which is second most among the participating schools.

Villanova's bitterest Big 5 rival is Saint Joseph's University, in what has become known as the Holy War.


Villanova basketball athletes traditionally remain enrolled four years, graduate, and go on to enjoy post-college success. Villanova has never fired a head basketball coach (men's or women's). Villanova has won more NCAA tournament games as a lower seed than any school. Villanova won what has been called the greatest college basketball game ever played, defeating Georgetown 66–64 on April 1, 1985 to win the NCAA National Championship.


V for Villanova is the Wildcats' fight song. Other Villanova songs include March of the Wildcats.


Villanova had a tradition of throwing paper streamers in the school colors of blue and white onto the basketball court at home games, particularly Big Five games, after the first Wildcat basket. This tradition was shared by other Big Five basketball teams, and at Big Five games, streamers were thrown by both teams following their team's first field goal. The tradition was stopped in the late 1980s after the NCAA declared that throwing streamers would result in a technical foul. Since then Villanova has restarted the tradition, throwing the streamers on the first basket of the new season during the blue and white scrimmage game during Hoops Mania.

Hoops Mania

Hoops Mania has been an annual tradition to celebrate the start of basketball season. It was originally held in the Jake Nevin Fieldhouse for students and has since grown larger after the success of the 2005–06 season. It is now held in the Pavilion and is open to the public and students. Following an inter-team scrimmage, notable music artists perform.

Tony Yayo At Villanova Hoops Mania 06'

External links

Uses material from the Wikipedia article Villanova Wildcats men's basketball, released under the CC BY-SA 3.0 license.