10 Best NCAA Finals
Salt Lake City, Utah
Michigan State 75 - 64 Indiana State
It was the most watched game in college basketball history. Nearly a quarter of American households with a television set tuned in to watch the future of basketball. Specifically Larry Bird versus Magic Johnson. The two would dominate professional basketball in the 80s with their team-first approach and hyper-competitiveness. The game itself could not live up to the massive amount of hype it produced, but it is a classic because it expanded the game's audience and introduced the world to two legends.
College Park, Maryland
Texas Western 72 - 65 Kentucky
The 1966 final was another game that is better remembered for its influence on the sport than for its highlight plays. Little Texas Western defeating mighty Kentucky with five black starters. It had never been done before (see 1963 Loyola Ramblers). The game and surrounding events are depicted in the 2006 film, Glory Road.
Michigan 80 - 79 Seton Hall (OT)
Rumeal Robinson, a 64% free throw shooter, goes to the line with three seconds remaining in overtime. Wolverines down by two. The Michigan guard sinks the first to tie the game... then nails the second to clinch it. That moment belonged to Rumeal, but it was future Hall of Famer, Glen Rice, who scored 31 and claimed the Most Outstanding Player honors.
Loyola-Chicago 60 - 58 Cincinnati (OT)
Loyola was Texas Western before Texas Western. Loyola started four black players against 2-time defending national champions, Cincinnati, who started three black players of their own. It was a defining moment in the history of the sport to have seven black players starting in a national championship game. The game was unique for other reasons too. Only 11 players played in the entire game. You also had the added excitement of a national championship game going into overtime.
Kansas City, Missouri
North Carolina 54 - 53 Kansas (3OT)
Bill Russell has joined the Celtics, and the University of San Francisco's reign atop the NCAA has ended. Now it's Wilt Chamberlain and Kansas against undefeated North Carolina for the national championship. An all blue blood matchup. The game does not disappoint. It takes three overtimes and just a single point to determine the winner. In the end, North Carolina wins its first NCAA title.
San Antonio, Texas
Kansas 75 - 68 Memphis (OT)
The score here is slightly misleading. The real story the Kansas comeback. The Jayhawks were down 9 with just over 2 minutes left in regulation. John Calipari and Derrick Rose looked to be headed towards a championship when Kansas staged a last-minute rally that culminated in a Mario Chalmers three to send the game to overtime. OT was all Jayhawks.
New Orleans, Louisiana
North Carolina 63 - 62 Georgetown
This was the world's introduction to Michael Jordan. A game-winning shot for the national championship. It would not be the last time we'd see this from him. This game also kicked off an incredible run of classic NCAA championship games. From 1982 until 1990 only one final was decided by more than 4 points, and that game (1984) featured two of the best centers ever to play the game, Hakeem Olajuwon and Patrick Ewing.
New Orleans, Louisiana
Indiana 74 - 73 Syracuse
Keith. Smart. 17 points in the second half including the game winner with three seconds remaining. The game itself was a classic, and the win gave Bob Knight his third championship, each with an entirely different group of players
Villanova 77 - 74 North Carolina
Two off-balanced miracle shots in the final five seconds. One of which was a buzzer beater to win the game and the national title. That's a classic. Villanova teams seem to have an extraordinary ability to come up big in big games...
Villanova 66 - 64 Georgetown
You could easily swap this with number one on this list if you prefer. It's all a matter of preference. How do you prefer your drama? The '85 Villanova team was the lowest seed ever to win the NCAA championship (#8). They needed a flawless performance to defeat mighty Georgetown, and the boys came through. The Wildcats shot an incredible 78.6 percent from the field to capture their first national championship.
Albuquerque, New Mexico
North Carolina State 54 - 52 Houston
You couldn't hope for a better story than NC State in 1983. The hardworking underdog Wolfpack and their lovably eccentric coach barely make it into the tournament. They survive and advance all the way to the finals where a team of high-flying Goliaths are waiting for them, Hakeem Olajuwon and the Houston Cougars (aka Phi Slama Jama). The result is an instant classic that comes right down to the final shot.