I wasn't even two years old yet when Villanova beat Georgetown in the 1985 national championship game. But I've been under the impression for a long time that whenever the Wildcats and Hoyas get together, it's supposed to be a big deal.
That famous night 25 years ago is certainly a factor, but there's a lot more to it than just one game. Both schools are Catholic, though one is Jesuit and one is Augustinian. Both schools are relative neighbors on the Amtrak corridor, and whenever they meet both schools have fans in each other's arenas. And both are longtime members of the Big East, with Georgetown a charter member and Villanova joining a year later.
These days, there are 16 teams instead of 8, and it seems like almost every conference basketball game is a big deal. Which has its upsides, especially if you're ESPN. But even though all games are supposedly equal, aren't some more equal than others?
It's a big deal when Syracuse and Connecticut get together. It's a big deal when Syracuse and Villanova get together, and it's become a big deal when Villanova and Pittsburgh get together. There are also still flickers of light in what used to be an epic rivalry between Syracuse and Georgetown.
So what happened to Georgetown and Villanova? Their meeting in Washington will be on ESPN, but today's game wasn't nationally televised. Villanova-Louisville got a lot more hype even though the Cardinals aren't ranked.
After the Wildcats beat the Hoyas yesterday afternoon, I put the question to both coaches: Is Georgetown-Villanova still a special game, or is it the same as the rest of the Big East schedule?
Judge for yourself, but I think their answers were pretty clear. Here's what John Thompson III said:
Is it special? Yes, Every game is special. and the older you get as a person - as a player, they definitely realize it. There's such a finite number or games that you're going to be able to play.
And so every time you step on the court it's special. Because at some point that's going to come to an end. And so is Georgetown-Villanova special? Absolutely.
And here's what Jay Wright said:
What really comes to mind with Georgetown is that they're very tough for us to play because they play the exact opposite style. They like to keep the tempo down, they like that half-court, grind it out. We like to go up and down. So that's really what we look at.
And we really can judge ourselves by how we're playing against them, because you've got to be able to play in the half-court also. So if we're able to do that and execute against them and defend in the half-court, then we have a chance to be a pretty good team.
You can hear the full press conferences in the audio player below.
Maybe I'm the one who's wrong about this, and Georgetown-Villanova doesn't matter too much anymore. But I didn't get that the impression in the arena and on Twitter this afternoon.
What do you think?