A week ago, the North Carolina Tar Heels won their fifth NCAA championship. This was done in a dominant fashion against the Spartans, who let their turnovers catch up with them.
Because of Michigan State's errors, the Tar Heels were able to easily settle into a 89-72 win. Factored along with that was North Carolina's consistency and strong start to the game. In all truth, Roy Williams' squad had the game notched by halftime, if not sooner.
The Tar Heels had an excellent game while nothing seemed to click for Tom Izzo's Spartans.
If anyone tuned into last week's title game expecting a classic similar to last year's overtime thriller, they were disappointed. The game gave Roy Williams his second championship, and Tyler Hansbrough his first as a player, but other than deserved achievements, nothing special happened.
The Tar Heels were clearly the better team all the way through. In the past, though, we have seen games that made our eyes widen with excitement. Older fans relish the great moments that the NCAA has had due to great NCAA championship games.
Younger fans such as ourselves can only imagine what it was like to witness great moments in NCAA history. Today, I hope to try and give the best perspective possible.
In this slide show, there is a list of ten great NCAA championship games, in order from my opinion. Along with that, there are five honorable mentions that deserved recognition, and I wasn't going to ignore those great games.
All of these games deserved recognition. If anyone is to disagree, then they can write whatever they believe is fine. It's OK to have an opinion that is different from others.
Still, I hope that this can be a solid, accurate verdict on the ten greatest NCAA title games in history.
1993 NCAA Championship Game-Michigan vs. North Carolina: The game wasn't decided until Chris Webber made the critical mistake of calling a time out when his team was out of them. Before then, the game remained close.
1961 NCAA Championship Game-Ohio State vs. Cincinnati: The Bearcats avenged their loss from the previous year against Ohio State by winning it by five in overtime.
1980 NCAA Championship Game-Louisville vs. UCLA: The Cardinals were down for a good amount of the game, but surged through in the final four minutes of the game to win 59-54.
2003 NCAA Championship Game-Syracuse vs. Kansas: Syracuse had a strong grip on the Jayhawks, who managed to stay in the game until the last minute.
Even then, it took a clutch block by Hakim Warrick and a missed three pointer by Kirk Hinrich for the Orangemen to wrap up their first NCAA championship.
1994 NCAA Championship Game-Arkansas vs. Duke: The Razorbacks started a comeback in the second half, and eventually took the lead for good when Scotty Thurman hit a jumper to beat the shot clock.
The City College of New York entered the NCAA championship game hoping to achieve a goal. That goal was to become the first team to win both the NCAA and NIT titles in one year.
Back then, both tournaments were equal in prestige, with the NIT having a slight edge as the top college tournament. Being in the Madison Square Garden in New York City didn't hurt the team's goals.
They just had to face a vengeful Bradley team that lost to CCNY in the NIT final. In the last few seconds, Gene Melchiorre seemed to be well on his way to scoring a last second layup to give Bradley the national title.
Irwin Dambrot, though, blocked the shot and passed the ball down to Norman Mager, who hit a shot to seal the first double title in college basketball history, 71-68.
The Kentucky Wildcats were coming off a great 1996 national championship season. They were loaded with talent despite losing four players to the NBA. They came into the 1997 NCAA title game as favorites to win it all again, and were a win away from doing so.
Rick Pitino was confident that Ron Mercer and Anthony Epps would lead his Wildcats to a second straight championship. The only thing stopping them was another team of Wildcats from Arizona, coached by Lute Olson.
Arizona and Kentucky battled in a hard fought title game, and many fans were hoping it would prolong. Miles Simon and Mike Bibby were keeping Kentucky in check with their scoring sprees.
Anthony Epps shot for Kentucky, though, put the game into overtime. In the extra period, it was the underdog Arizona Wildcats that won the NCAA title over the powerhouse Kentucky Wildcats.
The Duke Blue Devils of 1999 is an example of another colossal beast in college basketball. Coach K's team had future Number 1 pick Elton Brand at center.
Trajan Langdon was the floor general, and William Avery was also in the backcourt. Shane Battier, a future national player of year, NCAA champion, and top ten draft pick, also contributed to Duke's defense.
This team was on a streak of 33 games, and only lost one contest the whole year. Nothing seemed to stop them. That was, until the Connecticut Huskies played them in the championship game.
Richard Hamilton, Khalid El-Amin, and Ricky Moore were a strong trio for Jim Calhoun's UConn Huskies. The game itself was very exciting, and the Huskies were proving to be more than an underdog.
Duke maintained the lead at halftime, but eventually Connecticut had the game in their hands in the last minute. After El-Amin hit two free throws, Langdon lost control of the ball, and Moore scooped it up to prevent a potential tie.
The Huskies won their first NCAA championship in dramatic fashion, 77-74.
The Villanova Wildcats were the ultimate underdog. They only made the NCAA tournament because of the expansion to 64 teams being put into effect.
No one expected the 19-10 squad to be in the Final Four amongst the defending champion Georgetown, St. John's, or North Carolina State. Still, they managed to get by with solid team play.
The Wildcats had to face to the Georgetown Hoyas in the NCAA championship game. Many had their doubts, and Villanova would have to play a great game to become national champions. And they did just that.
The Wildcats put the Hoyas on hold, playing hard defense on Patrick Ewing. When on offense, Villanova only made shots they were sure would go in. That led a 78 percent night of shooting for Rollie Massimino's team.
The Hoyas wouldn't let up, though, and stayed ahead. It was only when Ed Pinckney's game winning shot went through that Villanova became the ultimate cinderella champion, winning 66-64.
The Memphis Tigers were on the verge of finishing one of the greatest NCAA seasons of all time with 2:11 left on the clock of the NCAA championship game in 2008.
Their lead was nine points, but a rally by the Kansas Jayhawks kept the game close. Each Tiger that went to the free throw line to seal the seemingly impending victory, they missed their shots. This lead to a three point shot by Mario Chalmers that sent the game into overtime.
From their, the Jayhawks took over, and won the NCAA title game, 75-68. Coincidentally, this title victory marked the twentieth anniversary of the 1988 championship won by the Kansas Jayhawks over Oklahoma.
The Houston Cougars of 1982-83 were anything but mediocre. The "Phi Slamma Jamma" craze was in full effect, and it was no wonder. Future Hall of Famers Akeem Olajuwon and Clyde Drexler were the one-two punch that led the Cougars to the NCAA final of 1983.
The additions of Larry Micheaux, Alvin Franklin, and MIchael Young didn't hurt either. This time, it seemed, Houston would not be denied its first NCAA title. Nothing could stop it from winning, not even a valiant North Carolina State team coached by the late Jimmy Valvano.
They were wrong.
The Wolfpack emphasized on defense, and were leading by eight at halftime. The Cougars stepped up and led by seven later on, but eventually the game was tied at 52.
The game was on the verge of overtime, especially when Dereck Whittenburg heaved a desperation 30-foot shot from the outside.
Miraculously, though, Lorenzo Charles leaped into the air, caught the airball, and slammed it through. The Cougars didn't call timeout, and the Wolfpack were champions of the nation.
The stakes were high in the 1982 title game. A national championship was on the line. The stakes were equally as high for the two coaches. Both John Thompson and Dean Smith were yet to win their first titles.
The talent was also very high. North Carolina had future hall of famer James Worthy as their top player. Sam Perkins was also on board as a starter. There was also some guy named...uh...who was it? Jordan? Yeah.
Michael Jordan, whoever that guy is. On Georgetown's side, Eric Floyd and freshmen sensation Patrick Ewing led the Hoyas. The game was bound to be one for the ages.
The Hoyas seemed to have upperhand once the game got going. Into the second half, though, the Tar Heels caught up and the game became very close. After Floyd scored a jumpshot with less than a minute left, Dean Smith used the Four Corners technique into full effect.
With 16 seconds left, Michael Jordan hit one of the most legendary shots in NCAA hoops history, and when the buzzer sounded, it was all over. Dean Smith had his title, James Worthy left UNC a champion, and Jordan's career as the game's greatest player began.
The integration of basketball became very significant during the mid-'50s through 1960s. Many African American stars, such as Bill Russell, Wilt Chamberlain, and Oscar Robertson, captivated the basketball world.
Three years after this championship game, the Texas Western Miners officially ushered in a new era of basketball by winning the NCAA title with a fully black starting lineup.
Before that, though, there was a team in Chicago called Loyola.
The fast-breaking Loyola Ramblers of Chicago played in a game against the two-time defending champion Cincinnati Bearcats. The Bearcats used spectacular team play to get by, but Loyola proved to be a challenge in their quest for a third straight NCAA championship.
Although Cincinnati dominated Loyola for most of the game, defense faltered their play. Jerry Harkness hit a shot to tie the game and send it into overtime.
In the extra period, the game once again remained very close. Harkness had the ball again, but instead of scoring, he passed it to teammate Les Hunter. Hunter's shot was short, but Vic Rouse rebounded the shot and tipped it in.
In one of the greatest games in NCAA history, Loyola Chicago toppled the giant that was Cincinnati.
The Michigan Wolverines weren't just an underdog for the NCAA championship game.
They were also a team with an inexperienced coach. Steve Fisher took over the team after Bill Frieder was fired for accepting the Arizona State head coaching vacancy.
Although the Wolverines were a strong basketball team, there seemed to be no way that they would make it to the Final Four. Many spectators were wrong.
Michigan won all but one game, and were suddenly facing P.J. Carlesimo's Seton Hall Pirates. Michigan had Glen Rice, Rumeal Robinson, Terry Mills and Loy Vaught. Seton Hall was loaded with talent as well.
John Morton, Ramon Ramos, and Andrew Gaze led the team as well.
The championship game was close throughout, but Michigan had an edge. John Morton starting a scoring spree in the final eight minutes. He scored a three pointer to tie the game and put it into overtime.
In overtime, the two teams kept in pace with each other. John Morton's would-be Most Oustanding player performance went cold, and Rumeal Robinson was fouled.
The Michigan guard was usually bad at the free throw line, but he hit two free throws to give the Wolverines the lead and the win. Steve Fisher's job as an interim coach became a permanent job as Head Coach...until the whole 1997 spiel about the Fab Five scandal and all, but still...
The 1987 NCAA title game had a Hollywood ending that few could dream of. Coach Bob Knight of the Indiana Hoosiers was seeking a third national championship, and Syracuse was in the way.
National Player of the year Derrick Coleman and the Orangemen made life difficult for Indiana from the start. Eventually, though, Syracuse did well after Keith Smart was benched for making a bad pass. It seemed to be a mistake on Knight's part.
Instead, it was mind tactic that the controversial coach is so famous for.
Ron Seikaly, Sherman Douglas, and Coleman all put a number on Indiana, but Smart's return to the game turned the tables. His game changing performance kept the game in reach for Indiana. Syracuse had a 61-56 lead with less than eight minutes left, but Smart kept things going for Knight's team.
After Derrick Coleman missed a critical free throw, the Hoosiers tried to get the ball to the red hot Steve Alford. He was heavily covered, and the game was left in Keith Smart's hands again. He shot a 15-foot jumpshot from the baseline.
It went through the net with only three seconds remaining. The Orangemen tried to pass the ball, but Indiana stole it to wrap up the greatest NCAA championship game in history.
Sources: The Final Four by Mike Kennedy, ESPN, Sports Illustrated