I miss March Madness, so I figured that I would close my eyes and imagine the 16 greatest teams of all-time in one climatic tournament! The ultimate Madness! Let’s take a look at the brackets:
West Region Semi-Finals
#1 1968 UCLA Bruins vs. #4 1980 Louisville Cardinals
The Cardinals started out the game guns a blazing as “Dr. Dunkeinstein” Darrell Griffith dominated the first five minutes, scoring 8 points as the Cardinals raced out to a surprising 12-2 early lead. From the 15 minute mark of the first half all the way to halftime the Bruins slowly chipped away as they started to control the tempo and get the ball inside to Lew Alcindor. By halftime the Bruins held a 44-42 lead over the Cardinals.
Lucius Allen and Michael Warren played well defensively in the second half and Alcindor wore the Cardinals out underneath as the Bruins slowly but surely pulled away from the Cardinals for a 87-76 victory. Alcindor scored 38 points and had 18 rebounds for the game. The Bruins now advance to the regional finals. UCLA 87, Louisville 76
#2 1979 Michigan State Spartans vs. #3 1996 Kentucky Wildcats
Magic Johnson and Greg Kelser led the Spartans over Bird and the Sycamores in 1979 but can they deal with a very talented 1996 Wildcats squad? Nine Kentucky Wildcats from this team would go on to play in the NBA. Derek Anderson, Tony Delk, Walter McCarty, Ron Mercer, Nazr Mohammed, Mark Pope, Jeff Sheppard, Wayne Turner, and Antoine Walker. Would the talent be enough to snuff out the Magic Man?
This was a close, hard-fought matchup in the first half as the passing of Magic kept the Spartans in the game, but as they often did the Wildcats depth slowly broke the Spartans down. A 35-30 Wildcat lead turned into a 77-65 Wildcats win by games’ end. The Spartans never relented but Kentucky was just too good. Kentucky 77, Michigan State 65
Regional Finals Matchup on Friday 1968 UCLA vs. 1996 Kentucky
East Regional Semi-Finals
#1 1956 San Francisco Dons vs. #4 1974 N.C. State Wolfpack
7’4″ Tom Burleson from N.C. State will try to battle the great Bill Russell, along with David Thompson vs. K.C. Jones. Both teams have great complimentary casts which makes this game interesting. The key to this will be Burleson against Russell. Unfortunately, the Wolfpack would come up way short there.
Thompson’s high-flying aerial assault keep them competitive, but Russell will get Burleson in foul trouble and from there it will be Russell, controlling the game the rest of the way until the Dons to pull away. San Francisco 82, N.C. State 68
#2 1992 Duke Blue Devils vs. #3 1964 UCLA Bruins
This is a matchup between maybe Coach K’s greatest team and Coach Wooden’s first great team. UCLA’s back-court of Walt Hazzard and Gail Goodrich is as good as any you have ever seen. The Blue Devils countered with Bobby Hurley, Christian Laettner, and Grant Hill. This game would come down to if UCLA can defend Laettner and Hill, and they do for a while. At halftime they only trail 34-33.
In the second half though the depth and talent of the Blue Devils takes over as Grant Hill and Laettner combine for 28 points to secure a win. Duke 77, UCLA 68
Regional Finals Matchup on Friday 1992 Duke vs. 1956 San Francisco
Midwest Regional Semi-Finals
#1 1976 Indiana Hoosiers vs. #4 1981 Indiana Hoosiers
Bob Knight vs. Bob Knight! The 1981 Indiana Hoosiers are an underrated champion as they lost 9 games during the regular season. Come tournament time the Hoosiers were rolling behind Isaiah Thomas. The 76 Hoosiers, on the other hand, rolled all season long behind Scott May and Kent Benson on the inside, with guard Quinn Buckner controlling the tempo. The 81 Hoosiers are the more athletic team, while the 76 team were powerful on the inside.
This game would start off in favor of the 81 Hoosiers as the athletic ability would be apparent during the first half. The Hoosiers of 81 would race out to a 35-29 halftime lead. The second half would see Scott May take over the game and get Landon Turner and Ray Tolbert both in Foul trouble. May would lead the Hoosiers with 31 points and Benson would add 24. Isaiah Thomas would lead the 81 Hoosiers with 26 points but he wouldn’t get enough help from his teammates, meaning the 76 Hoosiers would squeak it out at the end. 1976 Hoosiers 80, 1981 Hoosiers 77
#2 2004 UCONN Huskies vs. #3 2001 Duke Blue Devils
This looked like an even matchup going in and the game was played pretty much even the whole way. The difference would be on the inside as UCONN’s Emeka Okafor would dominate late and three Ben Gordon three-point shots in the last 5 minutes would help the Huskies prevail 87-81.
Regional Finals on Saturday 1976 Indiana Hoosiers vs. 2004 UCONN Huskies
South Regional Semi-Finals
#1 1990 UNLV Running Rebels vs. #4 1960 Ohio State Buckeyes
Jerry Lucas and John Havlicek led the Buckeyes with a high scoring attack. The Rebels were tall, athletic and strong defenders and they were led by Larry Johnson and Stacey Augmon. Both teams won with strong defense and great transition offense. The difference would be the depth of UNLV, meaning the game would be competitive for a half, the Running Rebels would be way too strong in the second. Lucas and Havlicek would get there points but so would Johnson, Augmon, and Anderson Hunt. The Rebels were just too deep. UNLV 93, Ohio State 75
#2 1982 North Carolina Tar Heels vs. #3 1984 Georgetown Hoyas
In 1982 Ewing vs. Jordan was a great game, so just imagine the 84 Hoyas against Jordan and Worthy? This would be tight all throughout. The Hoyas defense was as good as any team in history. The question is could they wear out the Tar Heels? The question for the Hoyas would be could they score enough points.
The 84 Hoyas were similar to the 82 version that lost a one-point game to the Tar Heels. Even though I think the 84 Hoyas were better I think that Eric “Sleepy” Floyd’s absence on this team hurts in the back-court. Reggie Williams coming off the bench will cause the Tar Heels problem’s also, but in the end, I see another one-point win for the Tar Heels. UNC 67, Hoyas 66
Regional Final on Saturday 1982 North Carolina Tar Heels vs. 1990 UNLV Running Rebels
Look for the Regional Final articles on Friday and Saturday!