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NCAA Tournament Round-of-32 Historical Perspective - Taking Down Hoya Paranoia

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Scott Skiles and Michigan State take down John Thompson’s Georgetown Hoyas in 1986

Scott Skiles with Jud Heathcoate
MSU Athletic Communications

(Note: this article is a little brief, as I broke my right arm on Friday. OTE workman’s comp provided an extra Malort ration...)

Continuing with recollections of the NCAA Tournament, I’ll continue with the 1986 edition and discuss one of the best individual performances I can remember. In the Midwest Region #5 seed Michigan State needed overtime to dispatch the #12 seed Washington Huskies. Michigan State's reward was a Round-of-32 game against John Thompson's Georgetown Hoyas.

Georgetown may have lost Patrick Ewing to the NBA, but they were still a formidible opponent. Utilizing their trademark full court press, the Hoyas entered the Michigan State game at 24-7, 11-5 in Big East play. Leading the Hoyas were former (Baltimore Dunbar) high school teammates David Wingate and Reggie Williams.

Michigan State came into the NCAA Tournament at 21-7, 12-6 in conference play. Leading the Spartans was point guard Scott Skiles who averaged more than 27 points per game. But it was Skiles toughness that was the key for Michigan State: this would be necessary against Georgetown’s full-court press.

In the first half Michigan State wasn’t phased by Georgetown’s pressing, and took a 32-30 halftime lead. During the second half though Skiles took over, scoring 18 of his game high 24 points (while playing all 40 minutes). Skiles’ performance included one of the sickest fast-break passes I’ve ever seen. Michigan State made their free throws and knocked off Georgetown 80-68, causing John Thompson to lament, “The past four years I’ve been working overtime. This year it looks like I get an early vacation, but it isn’t necessarily welcomed.” about the Hoyas early exit from the NCAA Tournament.

In the first 2 rounds of the 1986 NCAA Tournament, Scott Skiles scored 55 points against Washington and Georgetown. Michigan State should have advanced to the Elite 8; however some questionable timekeeping at Kansas City’s Kemper Arena allowed Kansas to escape with a 96-86 overtime Sweet 16 victory. This doesn’t diminish Scott Skiles’ and Michigan State’s accomplishments for 1986, though.