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On This Date in Sports April 2, 1984: Georgetown Rides High

In collaboration with the Sportsecyclopedia.com

John Thompson makes history becoming the first African American coach to win the NCAA Tournament, as Georgetown beats Houston 84-75 in the championship game at the Kingdome in Seattle. Both teams in the finals were seeking redemption after heartbreaking losses in the finals the last two years. Patrick Ewing is named the tournament’s Most Outstanding Player, with ten points and nine rebounds in the championship game.

The two premier centers in college basketball in 1984 were Akeem Olajuwon of Houston and Patrick Ewing of Georgetown. In the 1982 tournament, Ewing as a freshman led the Hoyas to the championship game, where they lost 63-62 to North Carolina on a game-winning bucket by another freshman named Michael Jordan at the Superdome in New Orleans. In 1983, Houston fought their way to the championship game, with Phi Slamma Jamma. However, they lost on a buzzer beater to NC State 54-52 in Albuquerque.

Houston came in the tournament with a record of 28-4 under longtime coach Guy Lewis. Despite the loss of Clyde Drexler remained one of the top teams in the nation due to the play of Akeem Olajuwon. Georgetown meanwhile bouncing back from a disappointing 1983 season, had a record of 29-3 at the start of the tournament. Houston the #2 seed in the Midwest Region started things with a 77-70 win over Louisiana Tech. In the Regional Semifinals, they would beat Memphis State 78-71 before beating #4 Wake Forest 68-63 in the Regional Finals in St. Louis. Georgetown meanwhile was the #1 seed in the West and survived a scare in their first game, beating SMU 37-36. In the Sweet 16, they would beat UNLV 62-48 before beating Dayton in the Regional Finals in Los Angeles 61-49.

Kentucky had perhaps the easiest path to the Final Four as they #1 seed in the Mideast with the Sweet 16 and Regional Finals on their home floor. The Wildcats reached those rounds with a 93-68 win over BYU. In the Sweet 16, they beat archrival Louisville 72-67 before beating Illinois 54-51 to get the Final Four. Round out the Final Four was Virginia out of the East Region. The Cavaliers a year after the graduation of Ralph Sampson were the surprise entrant as they were a #7 seed and needed to play an extra game edging Iona 58-57. They then needed overtime to beat Arkansas 53-51. In the Sweet 16, Virginia beat Syracuse 63-55 as Indiana upset #1 overall North Carolina 72-68 in Michael Jordan’s last college game. Virginia would go on to beat Indiana 50-48.

In the semifinals, Houston had its hands full with Virginia needing overtime to record a 49-47 win, while the Hoyas slammed Kentucky 53-40.

Both Georgetown and Houston were seeking their first National Championship as each had lost in the finals the past two seasons. The Hoyas controlled the game from the start as they outscored Houston 40-30 in the first half. It was balanced effort all the way that drove Georgetown to victory as five players hit double digits in points. This includes Reggie Williams who had a team-high 19 points off the bench, adding seven rebounds. Michael Graham also was big off the bench with 14 points. David Wingate meanwhile scored 16 points, while Michael Jackson had 11 and Patrick Ewing had ten points and nine rebounds. Houston made their run in the second half, but could not close the gap, as Georgetown held on to win the game 84-75. Alvin Franklin led all scorers with 21 points, while Michael Young had 18 and Akeem Olajuwon had 15 points for the Cougars.

Georgetown would return to the title game in 1985, but fell one point short of a repeat, losing to Villanova 66-64 in Lexington.