For the first time in close to three months, ‘Nova Nation was treated with seeing Villanova men’s basketball take the floor, virtually.
Earlier tonight the 2016 National Championship Wildcats squared off against their 2018 championship counterparts in a live streamed, simulated game on NBA 2K20. Amidst the trash talk from both sides reacting to the game, the 2016 ‘Cats stole the win in overtime, 57-55, much to the dismay of the 2018 champions.
“I mean it’s cool and all,” 2018 champion and Warriors rookie Eric Paschall said at the conclusion of the game. “In person though, we would’ve busted you up."
Hosted and run by 2016 national champions Darryl Reynolds and Kevin Rafferty, the live stream was used in order for fans and players alike to donate money to Philabundance, Delaware Valley’s largest hunger relief organization, which works to drive hunger from communities in the Delaware Valley and ending hunger.
The goal of the simulated game was not only to determine which Wildcat team is superior but to help Philabundance reach its donation goal of $21,618. Throughout the course of the game, the goal was exceeded and then some, as the donation total grew all the way up to more than $24,000 and counting.
During the halftime break of the game, Reynolds got the opportunity to conduct an interview with head coach Jay Wright on his thoughts of how the virtual contest would go. Usually swamped with the question of which team is better and who would win if both squads ever matched up, Wright decided to let the game determine who was better.
“I love that you finally put a game to it or something,” Wright said. “This is a great way to do it. I hate ever having to answer the question about who is better.”
From a coaching perspective, Wright even gave some intel on how he would attack both teams offensively if he coached the other one. Wright believed it was best to go at the 2016 version of Jalen Brunson and the 2018 team’s Omari Spellman, since they were both freshmen at the time.
“Spellman was a freshman,” Wright said. “I would have to go at him with [2016 champion] Daniel Ochefu. For 2016, I might have to go at Jalen. You are choosing to go at two NBA players."
Reynolds also interviewed 1985 champion Chuck Everson, who felt disrespected that his Wildcat team, which arguably pulled off the greatest upset in college basketball history against Georgetown, is not even in the conversation.
“Why is the ’85 team not a part of this,” Everson said. “We were the blueprint. If we are not playing tonight, then we got next.”
When Reynolds asked Everson which championship game was more entertaining to watch, there was clear answer.
“I went to both games,” Everson said. “The ’16 game was a lot more fun to watch. That was probably the best college game I have ever seen. Especially with the last 30 seconds when [Marcus] Paige hit that shot, and then Kris Jenkins came back down the next play to win it.”
During the stream, 2016 champion and Pelicans guard Josh Hart was quick to refute the dominant championship run that the 2018 team enjoyed.
“You guys played all football schools,” Hart said.
The night ended on a high note for everyone involved. Philabundance reached its goal for donations, and the 2016 team got the last laugh for now about which team is better. Until the teams somehow square off in person, the 2016 rendition of the Villanova Wildcats holds bragging rights.