9, 1974 NC
State 103, Maryland 100: 1974
ACC Reg. Final
There is no
doubt that this is the greatest game in Atlantic Coast
Conference history, but many who were there say it is the best
game in college basketball history, period. The top-ranked
North Carolina State played Maryland, in what amounted to a
NCAA Final matchup. Rules at the time allowed only one of the
teams to advance to the NCAA tournament, but the two squads
were so talented that many observers figured that the winner
would go on to win the championship
features five players who receive first or second-team
All-American honors in their careers (including three-time
first-team All-American David Thompson) and 11 players who
will be drafted by the NBA. Seven-foot-four center Tom
Burleson scored 38 points and Thompson 29, as N.C. State
(26-1) overcame a 13-point first-half deficit.
Phil Spence's layup
gave N.C. State a 101-100 lead with 2:04 left in overtime.
Monte Towe's two foul shots with six seconds remaining sealed
the Wolfpack's 24th straight victory, 103-100, and stretched
its winning streak over ACC teams to 32. While Maryland -
which is led by Tom McMillen (22 points), John Lucas (18) and
Len Elmore (18) - falls to 23-5, three of its losses come
against the Wolfpack.
The victory earns North Carolina State the conference's bid to
the NCAA tournament, as only one team from each league is
eligible, and they go on to win the NCAA tournament,
dethroning Bill Walton's UCLA team in double overtime in the
semifinals and beating Marquette in the final.
23, 1957 NCAA
54, Kansas 53 (OT)
Maybe the greatest
college basketball game ever: it had all the elements of a
classic. There was the undefeated champion; a tip-off between
a 5'10" center and 7'1" center; great coaching;
goats and heroes galore; and a triple overtime.
In this NCAA
finals, unbeaten, #1-ranked North Carolina started the game with a 31-0
record. But such was the respect for the Kansas Jayhawks home
court advantage and their 7'-1" Wilt Chamberlain that the
Tar Heels were 10-point underdogs. UNC coach Frank McGuire had
assembled an "underground railroad" of New York City
recruits, and had survived a triple-overtime thriller the
night before against Michigan State to get to the title game.
The Tar Heels sent 5-foot-10 Tommy Kearns to jump center against
Chamberlain. Wilt won the tip-off, but from then on it was
downhill - he had a miserable time
against the Tar Heels' collapsing defense, with 6-9 Joe Quigg
playing in front of him and other defenders leaving their zone
to surround him.
The triple-team strategy
worked, as Chamberlain was limited to 13 shots (making six) in
the three-overtime game. Though he scored a
game-high 23 points, his teammates, as Chamberlain says,
"couldn't put a pea in the ocean."
Kansas led 46-43 with 1:45 left in the second half when NC''s
leading scorer Len Rosenbluth (20 points) fouled out. But the
Tar Heels scored three points to force an overtime.
In the first
extra period, each team only scored two points, with
Chamberlain's basket tying the game. The second overtime was
six seconds left in the third overtime and N.C. down by a
point, Quigg went to the foul line, and made the two free
throws for a 54-53 victory to cap their 32-0 season.
High drama aside, Frank
McGuire's all-New York starting team of four Catholics and a
Jew brought basketball to the Bible Belt and built the Hoop
House of Chapel Hill. Up a point with four
seconds to go, Kearns
hurled the ball heavenward, and when it came down, Carolina was
the NCAA champion and college basketball was a true national
1, 1985 Villanova
66, Georgetown 64: 1985 NCAA Final
The greatest shooting
display in Final Four history enabled lightly regarded
Villanova to humble Patrick Ewing and the top-ranked Hoyas;
they shot 78.6% from the field and refused to be intimidated
by the roughhousing Hoyas. Ewing, unable to accept that he had
been outplayed by Ed Pinckney and beaten by a team that had
lost 10 regular-season games, thrust his finger in the air at
the awards ceremony. "I still think we're Number 1,"
Georgetown jumped out to leads of 10-6 and 20-14, but the 'Cats
refused to fold against the powerful Hoyas, who were at their
third NCAA title game in four years. Villanova was up at the
half, 29-28, and in the second half they hit 9 out of 10 shots
from the field. Georgetown shot 58% themselves, but the Cats
shooting clinic was just too much. They hung on for 66-64 win
in the Big East extravaganza, and one of the biggest upsets in
20, 1968 Houston
71, UCLA 69
It was hyped as the "Game of the Century." This was
more than just a mid-season battle of two rival, unbeaten,
superpower teams - it was a spectacle. 52,693 fans packed the
ultra-modern Houston Astrodome, the "Eighth Wonder of the
World," at the largest indoor crowd ever as well as the
largest crowd ever to watch a college basketball game.
#1 UCLA, with their 47-game winning streak, were the defending
national champions; the #2-ranked Houston Cougars had a
48-game home winning streak. The Bruins were the dominant
college basketball franchise of the mid- to late-1960s and
early 1970s. They won so effortlessly - their average margin in 10 championship games
over 12 seasons was 13.4 points - that many forget coach John
Wooden started at UCLA in 1948 and made only one Final Four
appearance before his remarkable run began in '64.
Bruins center Lew Alcindor and Houston star Elvin Hayes square
off. Alcindor was poked in the eye the previous week against
California, and though he elected to play he was not at 100%.
Hayes dominated him, and Alcindor was double-teamed on every
possession. He shot a miserable 4-for-18, and the Bruins were
fortunate to be behind just 46-43 at the break, thanks to a
late rally and the guard play of Lucius Allen and Mike Warren.
In the second half, the game is tight throughout; Allen makes
two free throws with 44 seconds left to tie the game at 69.
With 28 seconds to play, the Bruins tenacious defense keeps
Hayes from getting off a shot, but he gets fouled, and steps
to the line. A 60% free throw shooter during the season, Hayes
calmly sinks two pressure-packed shots to give his team a
The Bruins get one more
chance at it, but Allen's pass to forward Lynn Shackleford is
tipped out of bounds, and the 47-game winning streak is over.
Hayes outplayed UCLA star Lew Alcindor, outscoring him 39-15,
and going 17-of-25 with 15 rebounds and four blocked shots.
UCLA gained its revenge in the Final Four, routing Houston,
101-69, in the semis. Alcindor scored 19 points and grabbed 18
rebounds compared to Hayes' 10 points and 5 rebounds.
29, 1982 UNC
63, Georgetown 62: 1982 NCAA Final
There are many great sports images from the 20th century - the
shot of Muhammed Ali celebrating over a prone Sonny Liston;
Bobby Orr's diving goal in the 1972 Stanley Cup Champiosnhips;
Kirk Gibson pumping his arm as he circles the bases in Game 1
of the 1988 World Series.
One is particularly great for what it is missing - the Sports
Illustrated cover of 1982 showing the starting lineup of the
top-ranked UNC Tar Heels. There they are, all of the
starting players, shoulder to shoulder: Sam Perkins, Matt
Doherty, Jimmy Black, and James Worthy, with legendary coach
Dean Smith in front. Only one player is omitted: a
freshman named Michael Jordan.
Fired by the challenge of proving himself, MJ turned in a
great season. The final matchup between UNC and
Georgetown drew over 61,000 fans to the New Orleans SuperDome,
the largest crowd ever to witness a NCAA championship.
James Worthy was magnificent in that game, but so was Hoya
Patrick Ewing, who defensed 5 shots while scoring 28 points.
With a minute to go, Sleepy Floyd hit a jumper to put the
Hoyas ahead 62-61. During the time out, Tar Heels coach Dean
Smith devised a play to get around Georgetown's 1-3-1 match-up
zone defense. The goal: to get the ball to freshman Michael
So, trailing by a
point and working against a Georgetown zone defense anchored
by Ewing, the UNC Tar Heels' first two options
are to get the ball inside to either James Worthy or Sam
Perkins. But with the two big men blanketed, point guard Jimmy
Black uses Smith's option play and got it to Jordan free on the left
side, about 16 feet from the basket. With
his tongue hanging out and his legs going straight up,
Jordan's jump shot with 15 seconds left gives North Carolina a
63-62 lead over Georgetown for the national championship.
But the Hoyas still had 15 seconds left. Instead of calling a
time out, Georgetown took the ball back downcourt; UNC cinched it when Hoya guard Freddie Brown inexplicably
directly to Worthy with seven seconds left.
The win gives
coach Dean Smith his first NCAA championship in seven Final
Four appearances, giving him a lot of credibility in his case
for being the best college basketball coach ever. And of
course, it was the first hint that Jordan was a great clutch
State 75, Indiana St 64: 1979 NCAA Final
In the first meeting of
two legends, Magic Johnson won both the battle and the war
against Larry Bird. Indiana State was undefeated at
33-0, but the Spartans were favored nonetheless.
Magic scores a
game-high 24 points as Michigan State caged Bird and his
Indiana State teammates, 75-64, in the NCAA final. Magic
also grabbed seven rebounds and had five assists as he
controlled the game from the beginning.
Bird was nursing a sore thumb, and hit only 4 of 11 shots from
the field in the first half. The loss ended Indiana State's
dream season, and the point total was a season low; with
Michigan State (26-6) using a 2-3 matchup zone defense, Bird
was held to 19 points, shooting just 7-for-21 from the field,
and had six turnovers and only two assists.
When the game
finished, Bird wept, a towel pressed to his face. Magic, a
sophomore, won the Final Four's Most Outstanding Player award,
while Bird, a senior, was the College Player of the Year. This
was the last college game for both players, who continued
their rivalry in the NBA.
19, 1966 Tex
Western 72, Kentucky 65:
1966 NCAA Final
becomes the first NCAA champion to start five blacks, upsetting
top-ranked Kentucky's all-white
team of Adolph Rupp in the final in College Park, Md. Texas
Western coach Don Haskins made one key change in his starting
lineup: he used three guards against the small but speedy
Wildcats. Bobby Joe Hill, Texas Western's 5-foot-10 bolt of
lightning in the backcourt, sets the tone early in the 72-65
victory when he twice steals the ball from Kentucky players
and scores layups.
The Miners took the
lead midway in the first half and never relinquished it, though
Kentucky gets within a point early in the second half. Texas
Western, which was ranked No. 3 going into the tournament,
finishes with a 28-1 record.
Hill leads all scorers
with 20 points, while 6-foot-7, 240-pound center Dave
("Big Daddy") Lattin gets 16 points and grabs nine
rebounds and guard Orsten ("Little O") Artis has 15
points and eight rebounds. Kentucky's Pat Riley and Lou
Dampier each score 19, though Riley shoots 8-of-22 from the
Fans in Westwood expected just another W when their team went
to South Bend. UCLA had set the collegiate record with 61
consecutive victories by winning in South Bend a year ago;
they hadn't lost since Jan. 23, 1971 when the Bruins were
beaten 89-82 by - who else? - Notre Dame. And indeed, it
looked like business as usual, when late in the fourth
quarter, the Bruins are up 70-59.
But with just 3:22
left, No. 2-ranked and undefeated Irish put together the most
improbable run in basketball history, scoring the game's final
12 points. First, the Fighting Irish center John Shumate scored
a basket. Then, he stole the inbounds pass from Bill Walton
and sank another basket, making it 70-63. Another steal and a
lay up, and it was 70-65; pandemonium let loose in South Bend,
as the Notre Dame's press caused UCLA to panic.
The Bruins couldn't convert, and guard Gary Brokaw cleanly hit
a long jumper to make it 70-67. Again the Bruins
couldn't convert. Again, Brokaw drained a long jumper from the
perimeter, and it was 70-69.
With a minute to play, UCLA's Keith Wilkes was called for
charging, nullifying a critical basket, and Notre Dame got the
ball back. Dwight Clay's spectacular jumper from the right
corner with 29 seconds left gave the Irish a stunning 71-70
lead over the Walton Gang.
The Bruins called a time out to get one last chance at it: an
inbounds pass goes to Bill Walton, who played all 40 minutes
after missing three games with a back injury. But Walton
missed a 12-footer (only his second misfire in 14 field-goal
attempts), and the Bruins grabbed but missed two consecutive
rebounds in the dying seconds.