30 years ago today

It sounded like an April Fools joke, but it was true.
On April 1, 1985, 8th seeded Villanova beat number one Georgetown for the NCAA basketball championship. It was, and is the greatest championship game upset in the tournament’s history.
I was living in Forty Fort at the time, eight years into my first marriage. My daughter was just about two years old and my son was just about two years away from being born. I was managing editor of the Sunday Dispatch and an adjunct professor of journalism at Wilkes College, now University.
When upstart Villanova, who barely made it into the tournament, beat Memphis State to make it into the final game in Lexington, Kentucky, I told my wife, the former Adele Sefchik, she just might be the only person in America who was a graduate of both the school Georgetown beat to open the tournament and the one they would beat to win the championship.
Adele had earned a doctorate in 1983 from Lehigh University, which fell to Georgetown 68-43 in the opening round in a game that wasn’t as close as the final score, and a bachelor’s degree in 1977 from Villanova, which had the misfortune of playing Georgetown in the final. That was pretty cool, I thought.
Except Villanova ruined it. They upset the Patrick Ewing-led Georgetown 68-66, shocking the nation.
Although Adele and I would divorce about 10 years later, I always had a soft spot in my heart for Villanova and felt bad when they got bounced early this year.
That left me rooting for Notre Dame, my uncle’s favorite team no matter what the sport, and when they lost, I latched onto Wisconsin. Yes, Aaron Rodgers cheering in the stands has something to do with that. I’ve been a Green Bay Packers fan since junior high.
But there’s something beyond Rodgers’ support that has me pulling for the Badgers. Call it a Wisconsin thing. And call the Wisconsin thing a blue collar thing. Or better still, a salt-of-the-earth thing.
The story of Sam Dekker, Wisconsin’s 6’7 forward who has become the darling of the tournament, says it all. He was a high school star in his hometown of Sheboygan. When asked recently how many colleges other than Wisconsin recruited him, he said none. That’s because he declared his intention to play for the Badgers when he was only a sophomore. There was no place else he wanted to play.
I like that.
On Wisconsin.

Ed Ackerman