With the national championship coming up Monday night and all the hype that comes with it — especially after watching 38-0 Kentucky fall to Wisconsin in one of the best revenge games of all time on Saturday — we here at Dorm Room Hoops thought it might be beneficial to put the championship game into a little bit of perspective. Let’s take a look back at the best national championship games in the history of the game.
10. Texas Western vs. Kentucky (1966)
While this game might not have been one of the most thrilling, with the final score reading 72-65 Texas Western, it did have a huge historical significance. Texas Western was the first team to win a national title with five African-American starters. It finished its season 28-1 and knocked off top-ranked Kentucky to seize the crown.
9. North Carolina vs. Michigan (1993)
Perhaps one of the most bizarre endings to a national championship game comes in this one. Michigan was down 73-71 but had the ball with 20 seconds left after Chris Webber rebounded a North Carolina missed free throw. Webber then proceeded to commit a traveling violation which wasn’t called and almost immediately after that he called a timeout after his team was out this costing them a technical foul. Dean Smith’s Tar Heels went on to beat the Fab Five, 77-71.
8. Michigan State vs. Seton Hall (1989)
The game itself was great, but the strange events that led up to it made it even better. Bill Frieder had been Michigan’s coach for the 1989 season and before the NCAA Tournament he announced he would be leaving at the end of the season to coach at Arizona State. Michigan then fired Frieder and hired his top assistant, Steve Fisher, as an interim head coach for the tournament. Fisher and Glen Rice, who scored 184 points in six games in the tournament, led Michigan to the national championship game where Rumeal Robinson would hit two free throws in overtime to win it for the Wolverines, 80-79.
7. Kansas vs. Memphis (2008)
A lot of you may actually remember this one; I know I do. John Calipari’s Memphis Tigers led by 9 at the 2-minute mark, but couldn’t hold the lead. Kansas came roaring back and with 10.8 seconds left, freshman Derrick Rose only made 1 of 2 free throws and Mario Chalmers went down the court and hit a 3-pointer for Kansas to send it into overtime. In overtime, Kansas went on to dominate the Tigers and came out on top, 75-68.
6. North Carolina vs. Kansas (1957)
North Carolina came into this one undefeated, but still considered the underdog against Wilt Chamberlain and the Jayhawks. North Carolina kept the game slow and methodical as they took it into three overtimes, and scored only 2 points in each of the first two. However, in the third overtime period, the Tar Heels finally pulled ahead and outscored Kansas 6-5 to win the only triple overtime game in NCAA Championship history, 54-53.
5. Indiana vs. Syracuse (1987)
No amazing storylines or legends in this one, just an amazing performance and shot. Indiana’s Keith Smart had been fifth on the team in scoring all year long, but that didn’t stop him from putting up 17 points in the second half and hitting a baseline three with under three seconds left to win it for the Hoosiers 74-73 and give Bob Knight his third and last national title.
4. Michigan State vs. Indiana State (1979)
This game has too many storylines and lasting legacies to count. For one, it was the genesis to the rivalry between Magic Johnson and Larry Bird. It also still stands as the most watched basketball game ever with over 35 million viewers. Bird and Indiana State came into the game undefeated, but couldn’t handle Johnson’s 24 points and seven rebounds. The Spartans upset the Sycamores, 75-64.
3. Villanova vs. Georgetown (1985)
This game was the end to the most improbable tournament run of all time by 8-seeded Villanova in the same year that the field was expanded to 64 teams. The game wasn’t particularly exciting, and it didn’t come down to a buzzer beater, but the Wildcats played almost perfectly. Nova shot 79 percent for the game and only missed one shot the entire second half. They’re still the lowest seed to have won the national title, 66-64.
2. North Carolina vs. Georgetown (1982)
One of the greatest games of all time with the greatest player of all time. Michael Jordan hit a late shot with 17 seconds left to put the Tar Heels ahead, 63-62. The Hoyas should have had more than enough time to put together a play and get off a decent shot, but instead Fred Brown accidentally passed the ball right into the hands of North Carolina leader James Worthy. The Tar Heels held on to win, 63-62, giving Dean Smith his first national title.
1. NC State vs. Houston (1983)
This game gives us perhaps the most iconic image of the NCAA Tournament, as NC State’s Head Coach Jim Valvano ran all over the floor with his tie flapping around. The Wolfpack weren’t really even supposed to be in this game as they had won one game in double overtime and another two games by only one point, but there they were, nevertheless. The game looked to be headed into overtime when Dereck Whittenburg put up a desperation shot from well beyond the arch. The shot wasn’t even close, but Lorenzo Charles was able to jump up and dunk the ball right before the buzzer to win it for the underdog Wolfpack, 54-52.