Top Ten NCAA Championship Games of All-Time

10) 1966-Texas Western 72 vs. Kentucky 65

The Texas Western Miners 1966 championship season was so improbable that they made the Disney movie, titled Glory Road, based on their historic run. Texas Western finished the season with a record of 23-1, with their only loss coming to Seattle University. The Miners breezed through the tournament, outlasting Kansas in double overtime, a Jayhawks team that was led by Jo Jo White. In the championship game, they would face the top-ranked Kentucky Wildcats, a team led by Head Coach Adolph Rupp. Everybody believed that the Wildcats would trounce the Miners. However, Texas Western proved that they had all of the tools to pull off the upset. This marked the first time in NCAA championship game history where a team (Texas Western) started five African-American players. The starting five played the entirety of the game.

9) 1956-San Francisco 83 vs. Iowa 71

Following the 1956 NCAA tournament, history was made. The San Francisco Dons became the first Division-I team to win the championship with a perfect record. The Dons went 29-0 during the 1955-56 season. San Francisco was led by future NBA hall of famers KC Jones and Bill Russell. In the championship game against Iowa, Russell scored 26 points and tallied 27 rebounds in leading the Dons to victory. K.C. Jones could not play in the tournament because he was a fifth year player. However, he and Russell were both drafted by the Boston Celtics. This dynamic duo also won eight NBA championships together.

8) 1976-Indiana 86 vs. Michigan 68

Prior to 1976, six NCAA champions have gone undefeated throughout a season. The Indiana Hoosiers became just the second team to accomplish the feat of going 32-0 after beating Michigan. The 1976 Indiana squad became the last NCAA champion to go an entire season with an unblemished record. This was Bobby Knight’s first of three championships with the Hoosiers. In the first championship game between two teams from the same conference, Scott May (26 points) and Kent Benson (25 points) balanced the scoring duties for the Hoosiers.

7) 1985-Villanova 66 vs. Georgetown 64

Going into the 1985 NCAA tournament, Villanova was not the hot pick to win the championship. Everybody believed that Georgetown would go back-to-back. However, the eighth ranked Wildcats surprised the doubters by knocking off their competition en route to the title game in Lexington, KY. To nobody’s surprise, their opponent would be the top-ranked Hoyas of Georgetown. In a tight battle, Dwayne McClain led the Wildcats with 17 points. McClain’s performance was complemented by Ed Pinckney, who racked up 16 points. Villanova hit an incredible 78% from the field en route to the school’s first and only NCAA title.

6) 1957-North Carolina 54 vs. Kansas 53

In the longest game in NCAA championship history, the North Carolina Tar Heels won their first title in school history by a single point. The game went to three overtimes before a winner could finally be decided. The 1957 North Carolina squad became the first team to complete a season with a 32-0 record. UNC Forward Lennie Rosenbluth tallied 20 points while fellow Forward Pete Brennan and Guard Tommy Kearns each racked up 11 apiece. Jayhawks Center and future NBA hall of famer Wilt Chamberlain scored 23 points while grabbing a hold of 14 rebounds. Even more impressive is the fact that two of the most prestigious Division-I programs went head to head. Both schools now have a combined total of over 4,000 victories to their college hoops resumes.

5) 2010-Duke 61 vs. Butler 59

Mike Krzyzewski earned his fourth championship as the head coach of the Duke Blue Devils by defeating Brad Stevens and the Butler Bulldogs in 2010. However, if you were to compare this game to the first three, this one was the most nail-biting. The top-ranked Blue Devils were facing a Butler team who was making its first appearance in the NCAA tournament. I honestly think that Butler was a surprise, especially since they knocked off top-ranked Syracuse in the Sweet 16. Both teams went back and forth throughout the course of the game. With three seconds remaining, the Bulldogs had one final chance to pull off the upset. However, Gordon Hayward missed a half-court shot at the buzzer, allowing the Devils to hang on for the win.

4) 1979-Michigan State 75 vs. Indiana State 64

Perhaps this game was best remembered for kicking off a rivalry between two players. The duo included Michigan State’s Magic Johnson and Indiana State’s Larry Bird. Johnson was the game’s leading scorer, tallying 24 points for the Spartans. The Bird led Indiana State with 19 points in the Sycamores first and only title game appearance. After Johnson and Bird got drafted into the NBA, both players enjoyed countless success. They combined for 24 All-Star appearances and eight championships. They also met in the NBA Finals three times.

3) 1982-North Carolina 63 vs. Georgetown 62

The Patrick Ewing-led Hoyas of Georgetown traveled to the Big Easy to face a North Carolina Tar Heels team with Michael Jordan, Sam Perkins and James Worthy on the roster. Both teams matched each other shot for shot, big play for big play and basket for basket. Worthy was the game’s leading scorer with 28 points. Ewing posted 28 as he helped Georgetown build a 62-61 lead. Jordan hit the two-pointer which gave the Tar Heels a one-point lead with 51 seconds remaining. Jordan finished with 16 points. The Hoyas got possession of the ball with one final chance to win the game, but an unaware Fred Brown threw an ill-advised pass that landed in the hands of Worthy. Brown’s gaffe led to North Carolina’s second title in school history.

2) 2003-Syracuse 81 vs. Kansas 78

Syracuse unveiled its only championship-winning team in 2003. This team was coached by Jim Boeheim. The Orangemen were led by Carmelo Anthony, Gerry McNamara and Hakim Warrick. Their opponent was the Kansas Jayhawks, who were led by Nick Collison and Kirk Hinrich. Anthony scored 21 points and was named as the game’s Most Outstanding Player. McNamara hit six three-pointers in the first half, which accounted for his 18 points that he racked up during the game. The Orangemen held a dominating 11-point lead at halftime, but Kansas came roaring back. Collison and Keith Langford each tallied 19 points while Hinrich registered 16. The Jayhawks had a chance to tie the game, but Warrick blocked Michael Lee’s three-point attempt with seven-tenths of a second remaining.

1) 1983-North Carolina State 54 vs. Houston 52

The North Carolina State Wolf Pack, led by Head coach Jim Valvano, were heavy underdogs as they went into the 1983 championship game. The Pack faced the Houston Cougars, who had the dynamic “Phi Slamma Jamma” duo of Hakeem Olajuwon and Clyde Drexler. Surprisingly, NC State hung with the favored Cougars. With the score tied at 52, the Pack’s offense spent the final seconds working the ball around, trying to set up a last second shot. Dereck Whittenburg shot an air ball, which was recovered by Lorenzo Charles. Charles then dunked the ball before the final buzzer sounded, propelling NC State to victory. One of the key highlights took place after the game, when Valvano ran around the court looking for someone to hug. That right there is something worth watching over and over and over again.

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