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In MIRACLES ON THE HARDWOOD, author John Gasaway traces the rise of Catholic college basketball – from its early days (Villanova made an appearance in the Final Four in the first NCAA tournament in 1939) to the dominance of the San Franciso Dons in the 1950s and the ascendance of powerhouses Georgetown, Villanova, and Gonzaga-through their decades-long rivalries and championship games. Featuring interviews with notable coaches, players, alums, and fans — including Loyola Chicago’s most famous and dedicated fan, 99-year-old Sister Jean — to get at the heart of what makes these universities excel at this sport.

Small in number but devout in the game’s spirit, these teams have made the miraculous a matter of ritual, and their greatest works may be yet to come.