If Villanova is going to capture a second NCAA title this weekend in Houston, the Wildcats will need the champion's usual allotment of good fortune - lucky bounces, missed calls, grasped opportunities.
But 31 years ago Friday, when Villanova pulled off the tournament's greatest April Fool's trick by upsetting mighty Georgetown to win the 1985 tournament, its destiny may have been shaped by even more powerful and mysterious forces.
Forward Harold Pressley believes his Wildcats were aided by "extra karma." Guard Harold Jensen, a perfect 5 for 5 in what has become known as "The Perfect Game," says "a little stardust fell on us that night."
Reaching for adjectives, typically cynical sportswriters described Villanova's 66-64 victory in that historic 1985 game as "divine," "paranormal," "magical."
Whatever happened in Kentucky's Rupp Arena on April 1, 1985, it seemed to go beyond the earthbound reasons normally cited for the Wildcats' victory: the record-setting 79 percent shooting percentage, their familiarity with Georgetown, the fact that their deliberate style was ideally suited to the last college game without a shot clock or three-point line.
"Sure, you could look at all those logical things," said reserve center Chuck Everson. "But you can't ignore the other stuff that happened, the magical stuff."
If Villanova, a No. 9 seed with 10 losses, did benefit from supernatural intervention, it likely came from a former coach who had died in their hotel that morning and from the ALS-ravaged, wheelchair-bound trainer at the end of their bench, a little man who willed himself to stay alive for a victory he'd been dreaming of forever.
And to those who doubt, the '85 Wildcats point to something else - to a prophecy made more than four years earlier, one that to an astounding degree accurately foretold their future victory.
Now, as coach Jay Wright's 2016 Wildcats await their own Final Four destiny, Villanovans would appreciate a little more magic.
"This team is a No. 2 seed, and we were a No.9, so that's a big difference" said '85 Wildcat forward Dwayne McClain. "But maybe a little of what we had that night can rub off on them."
As with most game days, Villanova's preparations that long-ago April Fool's Monday included a Mass, this one in the ballroom of Lexington's Ramada Inn.
Afterward, their spirits as ready as their bodies, they were told that, upstairs in his room, longtime former coach Al Severance, a familiar presence, had just died of a heart attack.
The team's chaplain, Rev. Bernard Lazor, asked that they dedicate their title-game effort to his memory. Severance, he assured them, would repay the favor.
"You'll have a guardian angel watching over you tonight," Lazor told them. "Al Severance will be up on the baskets, swatting Georgetown shots away, guiding yours in."
Villanova would, of course, make 22 of its 28 shots - nine of 10 in the second half - against the nation's best defensive team, a few from impossible angles.
Severance's death provided Villanova with a second emotional focal point.
Throughout their improbable tournament run, they'd been inspired by Jake Nevin. Their bald, leprechaun-like trainer, a confidante and good-luck charm, was dying of ALS. Barely able to move, he'd managed to make the trip to Lexington to take his familiar seat at the end of the bench.
"Jake had been telling us all season we were going to win it all," recalled Everson, "and we were starting to believe him."
Before Jensen was to shoot a critical free throw late in what's still considered the greatest upset in NCAA finals history, he walked to the Villanova sideline.
"This one," he told Nevin, kissing the old man's head, "is for you."
Afterward, one of the nets the players had joyfully cut down was placed around Nevin's neck, a medal of honor that would be his life's crowning prize. He died the following December.
But the upset's eeriest aspect had its origins more than four years earlier, as coach Rollie Massimino was assembling the team that would bring the Main Line school its first championship.
Massimino badly wanted McClain, a smooth and athletic swing-man from Massachusetts. Looking for something that might wow the high schooler on his visit there, the coach asked a Villanova student to create a fake radio broadcast featuring McClain.
That recording by Alby Oxenreiter, a Central Pennsylvanian who worked on the Wildcats' radio broadcasts, would be a virtual point-for-point prefiguring of a game still far in the future.
Oxenreiter, now a TV personality in Pittsburgh, imagined an NCAA Championship in 1985. It would be played at Rupp Arena. Villanova's opponent would be Georgetown. The high-scorer, and the man with the ball as the game ended, would be McClain.
"I don't know how Alby knew all that," McClain said, "but that's exactly what happened.
With Villanova leading, 66-64, and two seconds remaining, McClain, who had a game-high 17 points, fell to his knees after a collision with Georgetown's David Wingate. On the floor, he still managed to secure Jensen's in-bounds pass and, folding himself into a fetal position, protected the ball from the clawing Hoya.
When the buzzer sounded, he screamed and raised an index finger triumphantly.
"That image has become the game's defining moment," said McClain, now a financial analyst in Florida. "I threw my hand in the air and started screaming because we'd conquered that mountain. We'd been to the Elite Eight three times. Now we were finally over that hurdle."
Even if they did require a little push from unseen hands.