As the 2010 NCAA Tournament comes to a close, I realized I have been watching and enjoying this tournament for 3 full decades now. I will admit that 1981 is not the clearest season, but it has been 30 years nonetheless. Championship Monday and of course a new rendition of "One Shining Moment" will bring this edition to an end...where will this seasons grand finale rank in the last 30? Here is my current rank of the last 29 championship games.
#29 - 1981 - Indiana 63, North Carolina 50 - Only because I remember it the least.
#28 - 1990 - UNLV 103, Duke 73 - The biggest blowout in the 29 years.
#27 - 2009 - North Caroilna 89, Michigan State 72 - The final score is much closer than the actual game.
#26 - 1998 - Kentucky 78, Utah 69 - The Utes kept it fairly close, but there was no doubt Kentucky would win this one.
#25 - 2001 - Duke 82, Arizona 72 - Nothing stands out here.
#24 - 1991 - Duke 72, Kansas 65 - Or here either.
#23 - 1992 - Duke 71, Michigan 51 - The Fab 5 didn't stand a chance.
#22 - 2006 - Florida 73, UCLA 57 - A tame end to a crazy tournament.
#21 - 2002 - Maryland 64, Indiana 52 - Juan Dixon and Lonnie Baxter completed the deal.
#20 - 2000 - Michigan State 89, Flordia 76 - It was all "Flint"stones.
#19 - 2004 - Connecticut 82, Georgia Tech 73 - Okeafor and Gordon would not be denied.
#18 - 1995 - UCLA 89, Arkansas 78 - Tyus Edney saved the 2nd round, then denied the Razorbacks a repeat.
#17 - 1996 - Kentucky 76, Syracuse 67 - The first of three straight appearances by Pitino's 'Cats.
#16 - 1984 - Georgetown 84, Houston 75 - Ewing gets his championship, Hakeem (Akeem at the time) gets revenge in the 1995 NBA Finals.
#15 - 2007 - Florida 84, Ohio State 75 - The Gators accomplish what most teams don't - a repeat when the players stay in college. Oden and Conley proceed to bolt Ohio State and struggle in the NBA.
#14 - 2005 - North Carolina 75, Illinois 70 - They must be getting good if this one lands at #14.
#13 - 1994 - Arkansas 76, Duke 72 - Scottie Thurman's clutch 3-pointer is the difference as "40 minutes of hell" gets it done.
#12 - 1999 - Connecticut 77, Duke 74 - Khalid El-Amin controls the game and denies this group of Dukies (Brand, Langdon, Maggette) a championship.
#11 - 1988 - Kansas 83, Oklahoma 79 - Danny and the Miracles upset my favorite team that year. Mookie Blaylock remains one of my all-time favorite collegians.
#10 - 2003 - Syracuse 81, Kansas 78 - Two freshman, Carmelo and Gerry McNamara get Boeheim a much-deserved championship and me an office pool victory.
#9 - 1986 - Louisville 72, Duke 69 - Duke was actually my favorite team in 1986. They would become my least favorite for a stretch of nearly 20 years shortly after Dawkins, Amaker and Bilas left the program. But on this night, it was "Never-Nervous" Pervis and Co. who got it done. It would be 17 years before another freshman led his team to the title (see #10).
#8 - 1983 - N.C. State 54, Houston 52 - I admit this one gets cheated a little on the list - but I was 9 and had to go to bed before the ending. I have now seen the ending a million times, but it is not the same. While the ending was good, the rest of this game lacked a lot of excitement.
#7 - 1989 - Michigan 80, Seton Hall 79 (OT) - People talk about Championship games sometimes being a letdown. That definitely can be the case. But this game coming in at #7 shows how good these games have been. Rumeal Robinson hit the free throws, but it was Glen Rice who put together one of the greatest personal tournaments ever.
#6 - 1997 - Arizona 84, Kentucky 79 (OT) - "Simon says Championship" remains my favorite all-time Billy Packer call. Arizona defeated their third consecutive one seed and denied Kentucky what would have ended up being a 3-peat.
#5 - 1993 - North Carolina 77, Michigan 71 - I admit, I was a huge Fab 5 guy and Chris Webber was my favorite. We were all yelling "NOOOOOOO" to Chris as he crossed half court down by 2 points. Do you ever wonder if a higher power decided - Well Chris, you just traveled and they missed it, so it would only be right of you to call a timeout that you do not have.
#4 - 2008 - Kansas 75, Memphis 68 (OT) - Memphis had this game won. To foul or not to foul. Actually, they were trying to but Kansas got away and Chalmers made them pay. Yes, just like the previous game on this list, it would have been vacated later on if the losing team had won, but that never takes away from the greatness of a game at the time. The Kansas victory also meant my 2 year old son would take 2nd in the office pool picking strictly on mascot names.
#3 - 1987 - Indiana 74, Syracuse 73 - How good were the championship games in the 80's? Keith Smart's baseline jumper denies Sherman Douglas, Derrick Coleman and Ronnie Seikaly a title. For the 2nd of what would end up 3 years in a row, my favorite team would lose the championship. Not that it would have mattered, but would someone on Syracuse call a time-out already after the basket. Maybe they needed Chris Webber.
#2 - 1985 - Villanova 66, Georgetown 64 - Easily could be #1 - The tournament is about upsets, and this is the greatest of them all. The first year of 64 teams produced a #8 seed winning the title. Some call it the perfect game. I just know I had to sneak the little black and white TV on in my room so I could watch it when I was supposed to be in bed. And I was rooting hard for Villanova.
#1 - 1982 - North Carolina 63, Georgetown 62 - Ok, so this is the first Championship game I actually remember. And I watched a lanky freshman hit the winning jumper from the baseline from a hospital bed as severely dehydrated 8 year old. I guess I had gotten plenty of rest during the day, because I was allowed to watch this one. My favorite part is still when James Worthy overplays a passing lane, and then Freddie Brown thinks he is a teammate and throws him the ball. The #2 Oops of the tournament behind my man C-Webb.
There it is. Where will 2010 fall? We will know Monday.