In honor of the 2009 NCAA title game that will be played Monday night between Michigan State and North Carolina, here are two top-5 lists from me.
The first: a list of the five best NCAA men's basketball title games that involved teams from North Carolina. The second: a list of the five best title games NOT involving teams from N.C.
BEST TITLE GAMES EVER involving a team from North Carolina
5. N.C. State 76, Marquette 64 (1974). David Thompson, Tommy Burleson and Monte Towe beat UCLA in a taut semifinal, then rolled over Marquette in Greensboro.
4. Duke 72, Kansas 65 (1991). Of Duke’s three NCAA titles under Mike Krzyzewski, this one had the closest point margin, featured the huge semifinal upset of UNLV and earned the Blue Devils their first title.
3. UNC 54, Kansas 53 (triple OT, 1957). Not many people these days saw it or remember it firsthand, but the Tar Heels beat Wilt Chamberlain and the Jayhawks in a wondrous triple-OT final to finish 32-0.
2. UNC 63, Georgetown 62 (1982). “The Shot” launches a legend – turning a skinny, trash-talking freshman named Mike Jordan into “Michael Jordan.”
1. N.C. State 54, Houston 52 (1983). Lorenzo Charles stuffs home the game-winner and Jim Valvano gets hug-happy.
THE BEST TITLE GAMES EVER NOT involving a team from North Carolina
5. Michigan State 75, Indiana State 64 (1979). Really not a great game, but historically significant because of the Magic Johnson-Larry Bird matchup.
4. Kansas 83, Oklahoma 79 (1988). Danny Manning and the Miracles pulled off a nice upset in a personal favorite – this was the first title game I ever saw and covered in person.
3. Indiana 74, Syracuse 73 (1987). Indiana’s Keith Smart drains a baseline jumper in the final seconds for the win.
2. Kansas 75, Memphis 68 (OT, 2008). “Mario’s Miracle” – a three-pointer by Kansas guard Mario Chalmers to send the game into overtime -- reversed a recent trend of title-game duds.
1. Villanova 66, Georgetown 64 (1985). The best David vs. Goliath final in tournament history, as Villanova shot a remarkable 22-for-28 from the floor to beat Patrick Ewing.