SI's Final Four Coverage

From Bill Russell's 1955 San Francisco Dons to Tyler Hansbrough's '09 Tar Heels, Sports Illustrated has covered the NCAA basketball championship for more than 50 years. Here are the SI game stories for one of sports' biggest events:

Heavenly Heels (North Carolina, 2009)By Tim Layden, April 13, 2009Ascension accomplished: In routing the home-state favorite, North Carolina netted its fifth national title and fulfilled its prodigious preseason promise

• Rock Chalk, Champions (Kansas, 2008)By Grant Wahl, April 14, 2008After a fantastic two-minute flurry at the end of regulation, Kansas KO'd Memphis 75-68 in overtime to claim the Jayhawks' first title since Danny and the Miracles prevailed 20 years ago.

• The Gators Again (Florida, 2007)By Grant Wahl, April 9, 2007Florida's NBA-ready stars postponed pro riches and returned to repeat as champions, securing a lofty place in college hoops history by outgunning a familiar foe -- Ohio State -- in the title game.

• Go-Go Gators (Florida, 2006)By Grant Wahl, April 10, 2006Behind center Joakim Noah's snarling, suffocating defense and a balanced, up-tempo attack, Florida cruised past UCLA to win its first basketball title.

• North Carolina's Man In The Middle (North Carolina, 2005)By Alexander Wolff, April 11, 2005Led by the indomitable Sean May, the Tar Heels held off Illinois to give Roy Williams his first NCAA title

• The Conn Game (Connecticut, 2004)By Alexander Wolff, April 12, 2004Behind a full-throttle performance from Emeka Okafor, Connecticut cruised past Georgia Tech to win the NCAA title.

•Orange Crushed (Syracuse, 2003)By Alexander Wolff, April 14, 2003The hot-shooting Orangemen of Syracuse held off a late charge by Kansas to win the national title.

• A Staggering Achievement (Maryland, 2002)By Grant Wahl and Seth Davis, April 8, 2002Steadied down the stretch by the unflappable Juan Dixon, Maryland overcame a multitude of errors to win its first national championship.

• Three's The Charm (Duke, 2001)By Alexander Wolff, April 09, 2001Clutch three-point shooting was key as coach Mike Krzyzewski completed his own trifecta, leading Duke to its third NCAA title in 11 years.

• State Of Siege (Michigan State, 2000)By Alexander Wolff, April 10, 2000Michigan State overcame a nearly devastating injury to its leader to conquer Florida's vaunted pressure defense and win the national title.

• Conn Artists (Connecticut, 1999)By Jack McCallum, April 5, 1999In a tour de force of defense and grit, UConn created a hardwood masterpiece, shocking Duke to win the national championship.

• Comeback Cats (Kentucky, 1998)By Alexander Wolff, April 6, 1998Digging itself out of one last hole, Kentucky brought a resounding end to the first year of the Tubby Smith era with its seventh NCAA title.

• Scratchin' And Clawin' (Arizona, 1997)By Alexander Wolff, April 7, 1997In a Cat fight that went into overtime, youthful Arizona upset Kentucky to win the NCAA title.

• The Untouchables (Kentucky, 1996)By Alexander Wolff, April 8, 1996It wasn't always pretty, but Kentucky rubbed out scrappy Syracuse to win its sixth national championship.

• The New Wizards (UCLA, 1995)By Jack McCallum, April 10, 1995There was joy again in Westwood after UCLA defeated Arkansas to win its first national championship in 20 years.

• Razor Sharp (Arkansas, 1994)By Alexander Wolff, April 11, 1994A clutch three-pointer gave Arkansas the NCAA title and, at last, the respect it deserved.

• Technical Knockout (North Carolina, 1993)By Alexander Wolff, April 12, 1993When Chris Webber called a timeout his team didn't have, Michigan was hit with a technical foul that clinched the national title for North Carolina.

• Hurley Burly (Duke, 1992)By Curry Kirkpatrick, April 13, 1992Bobby Hurley roused his Duke teammates and propelled the Blue Devils to a 71-51 victory over Michigan in the NCAA championship game.

• Yes! (Duke, 1991)By Alexander Wolff, April 8, 1991Duke did it. The Blue Devils slammed Kansas, after shocking UNLV, to win the NCAA title.

• Runaway! (UNLV, 1990)By Curry Kirkpatrick , April 9, 1990UNLV beat Duke 103-73 in the most lopsided NCAA title game ever.

• Mister Clutch (Michigan, 1989)By Curry Kirkpatrick, April 10, 1989With the NCAA championship on the line, Rumeal Robinson converted this free throw with three seconds remaining to play in overtime to give Michigan an 80-79 victory over relentless Seton Hall.

• A One Man Show (Kansas, 1988)By Curry Kirkpatrick, April 11, 1988Danny Manning rose far above Oklahoma to lift upstart Kansas to the NCAA championship.

• Smart And Super (Indiana, 1987)By Curry Kirkpatrick, April 6, 1987Keith Smart's last-gasp basket propelled Indiana to a 74-73 victory over Syracuse in a brilliantly played NCAA title game.

• An Ace In The Hole (Louisville, 1986)By Alexander Wolff, April 7, 1986Center Pervis Ellison lifted Louisville to the NCAA championship.

• Shooting The Lights Out (Villanova, 1985)By Curry Kirkpatrick, April 8, 1985Villanova played an almost perfect game to dethrone supposedly invincible Georgetown for the NCAA title.

• A Team For All Time (Georgetown, 1984)By Curry Kirkpatrick, April 9, 1984Deep and talented Georgetown used fierce defense and unselfish offense to defeat Houston and take the NCAA title.

• State Had The Stuff (N.C. State, 1983)By Curry Kirkpatrick, April 11, 1983North Carolina State completed its astonishing run to the NCAA title by knocking off Houston 54-52.

• Nothing Could Be Finer (North Carolina, 1982)By Curry Kirkpatrick, April 5, 1982Than to be with Carolina after it had at last won the big one for Dean Smith, beating Georgetown 63-62.

• And A Little Child Led Them (Indiana, 1981)By Curry Kirkpatrick, April 6, 1981As though drawing inspiration from the Book of Isaiah, baby-faced Isiah Thomas spurred Indiana to a fourth NCAA championship.

• A Big Hand For The Cards (Louisville, 1980)By Curry Kirkpatrick, March 31, 1980Capping a whacky NCAA tournament, the Cardinals of Louisville came from behind to defeat UCLA and win their first national championship.

• They Caged The Bird (Michigan State, 1979)By Larry Keith, April 2, 1979While Earvin Johnson directed a balanced offense, and the defense deterred Larry Bird, Michigan State won the NCAAs

• The Cats Go Wild (Kentucky, 1978)By Larry Keith, April 3, 1978With Goose Givens cookin' for 41 points and Rick Robey for 20, Kentucky won its fifth national championship 94-88 over gutty young Duke.

• Al, You Went Out In Style (Marquette, 1977)By Barry McDermott, April 4, 1977Coaching his final game after 13 years at Marquette, Al McGuire was given a royal sendoff -- a victory over North Carolina and with it the NCAA championship.

• Indiana Makes Its Point (Indiana, 1976)By Barry McDermott, April 5, 1976In fact the Hoosiers made 86 of them, enough to whip Michigan for the NCAA title and place a period to a perfect season.

• What A Wiz Of A Win It Was (UCLA, 1975)By Curry Kirkpatrick, April 7, 1975Led by Richard Washington's 28 points, UCLA defeated Kentucky 92-85 to give John Wooden a wonderful retirement gift -- his 10th NCAA title.

• Nothing Could Be Finer (N.C. State, 1974) By Curry Kirkpatrick, April 1, 1974And nothing could be sweeter for North Carolina State. Marquette was a breeze in the final game, but the Wolfpack really won the NCAA championship when it beat UCLA.

• A Slight Case Of Being Superhuman (UCLA, 1973)By Curry Kirkpatrick, April 2, 1973 Wondrous Bill Walton brought UCLA a seventh straight championship, flattened Memphis State and left the anxious pros to wait till next year.

• Oh, Johnny, Oh, Johnny Oh! (UCLA, 1972)By Curry Kirkpatrick, April 3, 1972Will he ever stop winning? John Wooden and his UCLA Bruins did it again, and almost everybody was happy except the rest of the country, which might like to swing to another tune, Just once.

• A Close One At Last (UCLA, 1971)By Joe Jares, April 5, 1971The Bruins of UCLA won their fifth straight NCAA national title, but for once there was an element of doubt. Howard Porter and Villanova almost set the East on fire before their flame finally was doused.

• Victory By Mystique (UCLA, 1970)By Joe Jares, March 30, 1970That special aura of success surrounding UCLA basketball -- the achievement of John Wooden -- surely did not hinder the Bruins at College Park, but the champions earned their glory and their title.

• Reprieve -- and An Electroluminescent Finale (UCLA, 1969)By Joe Jares, March 31, 1969For four years at UCLA, where the New Yorker toiled on a grant-in-aid under Coach Johnny Wooden, one way or another Lew Alcindor was always straightening out nets.

• Two Routs To A Title (UCLA, 1968)By Joe Jares, April 1, 1968Brushing aside the last pretenders, Houston and North Carolina, UCLA continues its reign as the national basketball champion, and nothing emerged in Los Angeles to indicate that next year will be any different.

• Terror In The Air (UCLA, 1967)By Frank Deford, April 3, 1967Apprehension pervaded the camps of UCLA's rivals at the NCAA basketball championships, inspiring fruitless stratagems and ineffectual performances. The fear was of Lew Alcindor, and it was justified.

• Go-Go With Bobby Joe (Texas Western, 1966)By Frank Deford, March 28, 1966A brilliant show of basketball hijacking and broken-field driving by little Bobby Joe Hill eased his coach's aching head and took the Texas Western Miners to the national collegiate championship.

• The Power Of The Press (UCLA, 1965)By Frank Deford, March 29, 1965A weapon of immense potency in the proper hands, the UCLA zone press brought the Bruins victories over Wichita State and Michigan and another national title.

• The Two-minute Explosion (UCLA, 1964)By John Underwood, March 30, 1964With quick bursts of scoring, UCLA startled Kansas State and Duke, stayed unbeaten and won the national basketball title.

• The Ramblers Wreck Cincy (Loyola, 1963)By John Underwood, April 1, 1963Conservative Cincinnati had its third straight national championship all but won. Then brash Loyola broke through the Bearcat stall for an almost unbelievable last-second victory.

• Cincinnati Is No. 1, No. 1, No. 1! (Cincinnati, 1962)By Ray Cave, April 2, 1962Furious for two years because they were ranked second to Ohio State, the Bearcats again beat State in the NCAA basketball finals. And this victory was no fluke.

• A Real Barn-Burner In Kansas City (Cincinnati, 1961)By Ray Cave, April 3, 1961That's how Ohio State Coach Fred Taylor would describe the basketball game in which OSU lost the national title to Cincinnati's Bearcats.

• Deadeye Buckeyes (Ohio State, 1960)By Jeremiah Tax, March 28, 1960Ohio State's brilliant basketball offense won the national title at San Francisco's Cow Palace.

• Basketball's Week (Cal, 1959)By Mervin Hyman, March 30, 1959Many a coach has mouthed the saw that a good defense is the best offense, but California's Pete Newell triumphed with it at Louisville and the Bears won the national championship.

• The Old Master Outfoxed Them (Kentucky, 1958)By Jeremiah Tax, March 31, 1958Even as he brilliantly captured the national basketball title, Coach Rupp spurned a popularity which should be his.

• Cool 32 In Kansas City (North Carolina, 1957)By Jeremiah Tax, April 1, 1957Basketball's seasonal winning streak reached an alltime high as North Carolina refused to panic in the NCAA finals.

• Victory No. 55: End Of An Era (San Francisco, 1956)By Roy Terrell, April 2, 1956San Francisco's accomplishments outshone even Louisville's decisive victory in the NIT.

SI Apps
We've Got Apps Too
Get expert analysis, unrivaled access, and the award-winning storytelling only SI can provide — from Peter King, Tom Verducci, Lee Jenkins, Grant Wahl, Andy Staples and more — delivered straight to you, along with up-to-the-minute news and live scores.