NCAA Tournament of All-Time Rosters: Championship Game Report

Marc DaleyAnalyst IApril 15, 2009

Final Game: (1) North Carolina v (2) UCLA

Together they’ve combined for sixteen national championships, 201 NCAA tournament wins, 146 NBA players, and twelve Hall of Famers (as player, coach or both). It’s only right that these two programs did battle for the top spot in the NCAA tournament of all-time rosters.

Madison Square Garden was packed to the rafters. The stars looked relaxed, even engaging in some playful trash-talking. But once the ball was thrown aloft for the opening tip and Lew Alcindor gained control for the Bruins it was all business.

Jamaal Wilkes struck the first blow with a 15-footer but Carolina came right back with a Sam Perkins bank shot.

No team was able to muster more than a four-point lead until the eight-minute mark when John Wooden decided to gamble and go with a smaller lineup that featured three guards (Tyus Edney, Walt Hazzard and Gail Goodrich) plus two forwards (Marques Johnson and Wilkes).

The gamble worked. The Bruins pushed the ball up the court as Wilkes was able to move past Brad Daugherty with ease, which freed up Goodrich and Hazzard on the outside.

With UCLA pushing the lead to ten points with three minutes left Dean Smith used the TV timeout to make his own adjustments, benching Daugherty and Perkins (who also had two fouls apiece) and bringing in younger guns Vince Carter and Antawn Jamison.

Carter hadn’t played much this tournament but he brought an immediate spark off the bench as he and Michael Jordan launched a high-flying assault that the Bruins weren’t prepared for. When the half ended the Heels had cut the lead to two.

When the second stanza began both team put their starters on the floor. It didn’t last long for Carolina as Perkins picked up his third foul. Jamison came back in and set about hassling Wilkes. Wooden tried Johnson. That didn’t work much better.

Carolina’s lead increased to eight with 14 minutes left. Finally, Wooden went to Reggie Miller, who he would have rather played as a big guard but would draw Jamison away from the interior. Miller hit two quick threes and Alcindor began to own the paint again. The score was tied at the 11:30 mark at 50 points apiece.

At this stage Smith decided to go with the patented “four corners” offense, hoping that the Bruins would get frustrated. Jordan and Worthy executed it to perfection and Goodrich would go to the bench with four fouls with nine minutes left, indeed frustrated by Jordan’s athleticism and skill.

Wooden bought Edney back in to run the offense so Hazzard could stick on Jordan. He couldn’t do much against Worthy, though, as the forward outplayed Wilkes and Johnson.

Despite the seven-point advantage Carolina enjoyed with seven minutes left, Wooden looked poised as he calmly held his rolled-up program. Edney used patience and worked the ball inside to Alcindor.

The center would finish with 28 points to lead all scorers by the time all was said and done and brought the Bruins within a point with three minutes left. But Carolina increased their 70-69 advantage with a Jordan three, then a Worthy steal off of Edney and a dunk.

The teams traded points the rest of the way but as the horn sounded Tar Heel point guard Phil Ford threw the ball toward the rafters to thunderous applause. Smith and Wooden shook hands and patted each other’s arms warmly. Jordan whispered something to Alcindor, who seemed to thank him before he walked off in resignation.

Final Score: North Carolina 81, UCLA 75