Magic Moments A countdown of the 20 most historic events in college basketball* *And the bottom line on some moments that weren't so glorious

Nov. 15, 1999
Nov. 15, 1999

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Nov. 15, 1999

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College Basketball 1999

Magic Moments A countdown of the 20 most historic events in college basketball* *And the bottom line on some moments that weren't so glorious


This is an article from the Nov. 15, 1999 issue Original Layout

20 Friar Makes Pass at College Student

In the 1973 NCAA semis the crowd of 19,000 in St. Louis falls
eerily silent, awestruck when Providence guard Ernie DiGregorio
whips an 80-foot behind-the-back pass, splitting two defenders
and connecting perfectly with streaking teammate Kevin Stacom
for a layup. It's the most breathtaking assist in college
basketball history.

19 Kimble Eulogizes Gathers With Lefthanded Compliment

In the 1990 NCAAs, Loyola Marymount's Bo Kimble (right) shoots
his first free throw of each game with his left hand to honor
teammate and friend Hank Gathers, who had collapsed and died of
heart failure during a game two weeks before the tournament
began. Riveting the nation, the 11th-seeded Lions scorch
defending champ Michigan 149-115 on their way to the West
Regional final. Appropriately, Kimble sinks each one of his
lefthanded tributes. "It may sound corny," he says, "but it
makes me believe I've got a little bit of Hank inside me. I feel
his strength."

18 Deadhead Redhead Takes Tigers to Woodshed

How best to describe Bill Walton's 1973 NCAA final as he makes 21
of 22 shots and almost single-handedly secures UCLA's ninth title
in 10 years with 44 points? Try, perhaps, something like this:
Dear Memphis State,
Peace and love,

17 Stormin' Mormon Goes Coastal

With BYU trailing by one with 10 seconds left in the 1981 NCAA
East Regional semis, guard Danny Ainge (22) takes the inbounds
pass, knifes through three Notre Dame defenders at midcourt with
a behind-the-back dribble, zips past a fourth at the free throw
line and lays the ball in over the fifth at the buzzer for a
51-50 win.

16 Sampson Agonistes

On Dec. 23, 1982, Chaminade, a tiny NAIA school (enrollment 900)
in Honolulu, knocks off No. 1-ranked Virginia, with 7'4" Ralph
Sampson, 77-72 in the most stunning upset in college history.
While the mainland sleeps, the Cavaliers' fate is sealed soon
after 6'2" Chaminade guard Tim Dunham skies over Sampson and
flushes a perfect alley-oop. "I must be dreaming," says
Silverswords coach Merv Lopes, who works full time as a high
school guidance counselor. "It's amazing what human beings can

15 Fundamental Christian Crucifies Kentucky

Five times the ball changes hands, and each possession results
not only in a score but also a lead change--and that's only in the
last 31.5 seconds of overtime. With :02.2 left in the 1992 East
Regional final between Duke and Kentucky, the Blue Devils' Grant
Hill arcs a three-quarter court pass to Christian Laettner, who
wheels, fires and--just as he has done with every shot that night,
10 free throws and 10 field goals--scores. Duke 104, Kentucky 103.

14 Birth of the Jump Shot

Using a revolutionary running one-handed thingamajig that the
man from The New York Times has no name for, college
basketball's first superstar, Hank Luisetti, scores 15 points
and exits to a prolonged standing ovation at Madison Square
Garden on Dec. 30, 1936, as Stanford ends LIU's 43-game winning
streak, 45-31.

13 Laying a Big Hurt on the Big Dipper

On March 23, 1957, the longest championship game in NCAA history
finally ends after three ulcer-inducing overtimes when North
Carolina's Joe Quigg sinks two free throws to beat Wilt
Chamberlain and Kansas 54-53. Quigg bats away the Jayhawks'
last-ditch pass to Chamberlain, and the victorious Tar Heels
(featuring five starters from New York) carry coach Frank
McGuire off on their shoulders. Chamberlain plays heroically--23
points, 14 rebounds--but the loss will haunt him as he develops
a reputation for not winning the Big One.

12 Young Jedi Knight Harnesses the Force

Coach Bobby Knight, 35, guides Indiana to the 1976 NCAA title
and a spotless 32-0 record that only improves with age. Over the
next 23 years there will be pretenders--both Indiana State ('79)
and UNLV ('91) will go into the Final Four undefeated--but no
team has gone perfect since.

11 The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down

It isn't the first time black players make an impact on the
national championship game: San Francisco won the '56 title with
six African-Americans, and Cincinnati ('62) and Loyola ('63) won
crowns with four black starters. Yet there's no greater symbol
of the racial evolution of the game than when Texas Western uses
five black starters to defeat all-white Kentucky 72-65 in the
'66 NCAA final. At the Miners' 25th reunion in 1991, coach Don
(the Bear) Haskins tells his team, "You guys got a lot of black
kids scholarships around this country. You helped change the
world a little bit."

10 No. 23 Gives Smith Title No. 1

Coaching in his seventh Final Four, in 1982, North Carolina's
Dean Smith wins his first NCAA crown when Michael Jordan, an
18-year-old freshman, swishes the game-winner from the left
baseline. "I didn't see it go in," says Jordan. "I didn't look
at the ball at all. I just prayed."

9 Tonight We're Gonna Party Like It's 1899

Five years after Dr. James Naismith organized the first game of
what would become known as basketball--with nine players on a
side--at the YMCA Training School in Springfield, Mass., the
University of Chicago beats Iowa 15-12 in the first five-per-side
intercollegiate game, on March 20, 1896.

8 Hoya Destroyas

Of all the small miracles in eighth-seeded Villanova's 66-64
upset of top-ranked Georgetown in the 1985 NCAA final, none
stands out more than this: If the Wildcats had shot 71.4% from
the field for the game, they would have lost. Instead, they shot

7 The Slam Duffer Dunk

In 1944-45 Oklahoma A&M's 7-foot Bob Kurland becomes the first
player to regularly use the dunk, and the "duffer shot," as The
Denver Post calls it, helps carry the Aggies, coached by Hank
Iba, to their first national title. Banned in '67, the dunk
regains its funk (and legality) in '76.

6 After Nine Encores, the Wizard Leaves the Stage

UCLA edges Louisville in the 1975 NCAA semifinals, whereupon
Bruins coach John Wooden, 64, springs a retirement announcement
that's a surprise even to him. "I had no intention of retiring,"
he would say years later, "but when I left the court that day,
for the first time I could remember, I didn't want to go to the
pressroom. I said to myself, If I feel like this, it's time to
get out." In the final against Kentucky, Wooden blows a gasket
at the referees--it's the angriest he has ever been in a game,
he says--after UCLA forward Dave Meyers gets hit with a
technical, but the Bruins hold on for a 92-85 win and their 10th
title in 12 years. After the UCLA dynasty ends, only Duke in '91
and '92 will repeat as champion in the next 24 years.

5 Dick's Ducks Nix Bucks

Oregon, led by its Tall Firs front line of 6' 4" John Dick, 6'
4" Laddie Gale and 6' 8" Slim Wintermute, beats Ohio State 46-33
in the first NCAA championship game, on March 27, 1939, in
Evanston, Ill., as Dick goes for a game-high 13. At one point,
guard Bobby Anet, who has vexed the Buckeyes with his
hand-waving on defense, charges into the scorer's table,
knocking off the inaugural trophy and breaking it. The
eight-team tournament is sponsored by the National Association
of Basketball Coaches, which loses $2,531--and turns the whole
thing over to the NCAA--after its five sessions are witnessed by
a total of 15,025 fans.

4 Elvin Has Left the Building

On Jan. 20, 1968, a historic crowd of 52,693 watches (through
binoculars) as No. 2 Houston beats No. 1 UCLA 71-69 at the
Astrodome to end a 47-game Bruins winning streak. Elvin Hayes
drops in 39 points to outplay Lew Alcindor (bothered by an eye
injury), but the real winner is the sport: The game is beamed
live to 49 states and helps make college hoops more of a national
spectacle than ever.

3 The Magic of TV

If there's a ground zero for the modern game, it's the year 1979
as ESPN debuts (in the next 20 years it will broadcast
innumerable college hoops games), the Big East conference is
formed and the NCAA final pits Indiana State's Larry Bird
against Michigan State's Magic Johnson in a game that still
holds the record for the highest TV rating in the tournament's

2 U.S. Watches U.S. Reed

In 1981, in a single day of delirium that gives credence to the
term March Madness, Arkansas guard U.S. Reed (dunking, left)
heaves a 49-foot buzzer-beater to give the Hogs a one-point,
second-round upset of Louisville; Rolando Blackman of
eighth-seeded Kansas State hits a 16-foot turnaround as the
Wildcats nip No. 1 seed Oregon State; and St. Joe's appalls
DePaul, then ranked No. 1 in the nation, winning by a point on a
layup at the horn.

1 The Pit and the Pendulum Swing for N.C. State

Trailing mighty Houston by a point in the 1983 NCAA final, North
Carolina State's Dereck Whittenburg launches a last-second,
off-balance, 35-foot prayer that appears sure to seal the
Wolfpack's doom...until Lorenzo Charles snatches the ball out of
the ether and (with the ground-bound Akeem Olajuwon watching)
dunks at the buzzer. Pandemonium ensues at the Pit in
Albuquerque as coach Jim Valvano skitters about, eyes wide,
"just looking for someone to hug," as he would so famously put it.