1985-86 Louisville Cardinals

February 27, 2020

On route to their second National Championship,

the Louisville Cardinals beat eight top 20 teams to reach the Sweet Sixteen where they met North Carolina. The Cardinals walloped the Brad Daugherty and Kenny Smith led Tar Heels, who had been #1 that season for 13 consecutive weeks, 94-79. They never looked back in the tournament, beating Auburn in the Final Four before meeting Duke in the Final.
The 1985-86 season began Coach Mike Krzyzewski and Duke’s run of NCAA Tournament success. It would be Duke legend Danny Ferry’s freshman season and the team returned veterans like Johnny Dawkins, Jay Bilas, and David Henderson. They were tournament favorites, but Louisville would also return a slew of hungry Cardinals.
Louisville returned senior stars in Billy Thompson, Milt Wagner, and Jeff Hall. All elected to forego the NBA draft for another shot at the title. They came back to win the National Championship as they had already made the Final Four twice in their playing careers. Their loaded freshman class also had Pervis Ellison, the future number one draft pick. The 6’9’’ center won Most Outstanding Player for the tournament.
The Cardinals got on the glass in the Final and outrebounded Duke 38-23 with 7 blocked shots to their 0. Louisville had a bit of trouble at the line, however, keeping the game close before finally winning 72-69. The Louisville seniors finally had their championship after beating a vaunted Duke squad and Ellison, who put up 25 points in the Final with 11 rebounds and 2 blocks, would move onto a storied college career before injuries ultimately derailed him in the NBA.

Tagged: College, college basketball, NCAA

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