One of the best, if not the top, stories among the host of March Madness tournament results was Georgetown’s blowout 73-48 victory over Creighton last weekend that returned the Hoyas to the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 2015. Georgetown was picked to finish last in preseason polling of the “experts,” and before the tournament began there were questions about whether Patrick Ewing, now in his fourth season as head coach, was the right man to return them to the prominence they’d enjoyed when he was their center in the 80s.

Instead, Ewing became the first person in history to win the Big East championship as both a player and a coach. He also added to a lengthy list of highlights at Madison Square Garden. He was an 11-time All-Star during his 15-year career with the New York Knicks. But despite all those accolades, Ewing was in the middle of a furor earlier in the week. He expressed dismay at being repeatedly asked for identification at the Garden, which did seem a bit ridiculous considering his long history with the team.

However Ewing didn’t let that stop his team’s run through the tournament. He brought an unranked team into a setting where their only chance at getting into the NCAAs was winning the entire event. He’d never coached a team in the NCAAs before, but now after leading the Hoyas past Marquette, No. 16 Villanova, Seton Hall and No. 17 Creighton, Ewing will get that chance. 

Life’s often both unfair and funny. Ewing for many years wanted to be an NBA head coach, but never got the opportunity despite spending several seasons as an assistant with various teams. He finally decided the owners weren’t going to give him a chance and decided instead to try the college route.

There’s also a historical twist to the story. The Georgetown victory occurred on the 49th anniversary of the day Georgetown hired John Thompson, the late Hall of Fame coach. Thompson in turn recruited Ewing, who helped transform the program into a national power and one of the most iconic brands in college basketball history.

Yet Saturday’s title, while being the Hoyas’ record eighth Big East Tournament title, was their first since 2007. Ewing, when asked if the Thompson anniversary had been on his mind at all, responded simply. “I think so,” he told the Associated Press. Thompson passed in August, and Ewing called the victory a huge step in his campaign to restore Georgetown’s luster.

“A lot of people disrespected us. Talked bad about us. We believed in ourselves,” Ewing said. Ewing and Thompson combined for three Big East Tournament championships, three Final Four appearances and a national title in 1984 during their time together at Georgetown. 

Perhaps this will also be the springboard Ewing needs to solidify his coaching resume as well. Previously the Hoyas had made only one postseason appearance in his four years, and at the start of the tournament his record was 58-58 as Georgetown’s head coach. 

But at 58, he now has something he can build off and hopefully begin attracting the caliber of recruits to the campus that resemble the excellence he provided as a player. No matter how far they go in this year’s NCAAs, this year’s edition of the Georgetown Hoyas will always be considered a special team.