Rollie Massimino, the coach who guided Villanova to one of college basketball’s most improbable national titles, died Wednesday at the age of 82.
Massimino made his players believe they were better than they really were throughout their run, inspiring them to topple the likes of Michigan, North Carolina and Memphis State en route to a title game clash with Georgetown, which at the time was considered to be one of college basketball’s all-time elite teams.
Villanova entered that game surprisingly confident for a big underdog because it had led the Hoyas at the half in both previous losses earlier that season.
Coaching was such an addiction for Massimino that he could not bring himself to retire after a failed stint replacing Jerry Tarkanian at UNLV and a forgettable seven years at Cleveland State from 1996-2003.
Massimino was selected as a finalist for the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame earlier this year, but he fell short of the votes needed for induction.
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