Thursday, April 3, 2008

NO. 1 VS. NO 1

The folks at SI have pointed out that since the NCAA started seeding tournaments, five national title games have ended with a No. 1 facing a No. 1. This year will be No. 6 given that all four No. 1s advanced to the final weekend for the first time in tournament history. The ACC has been involved in five of the six No. 1 vs. No. 1 showdowns.

Let’s start with His Airness.

With a cast chock full of future NBA legends, the Tar Heels won their second NCAA title (Dean Smith's first) and handed Patrick Ewing and the Hoyas a heart-wrenching loss. Michael Jordan hit the game-winning jumper with just 17 seconds remaining.

Georgetown tried to get a shot off in the final second, but a botched play (the infamous Fred Brown errant pass) ultimately put James Worthy on the foul line with no timeouts remaining for the Hoyas. Worthy missed his shots, but the game was over.
(Check out the short shorts…)

Unfortunately for Chris Webber, this game would make him famous for all the wrong reasons. After an 8-0 run by the Tar Heels, Michigan climbed back within two with 20 seconds left.

Webber snagged a rebound, but was forced to take the ball upcourt as his ball handlers were already on the go. With UNC traps awaiting him, the confused Webber made the mistake he'll never forget: he called a timeout with zero remaining for the Wolverines. Technical foul. UNC wins.

What is frequently overlooked is the simple fact that the Heels were WINNING when this happened. It has been played up historically as if the Michigan were tied or winning when Webber’s gaff cost them the game. Not so.

Duke head coach Mike Krzybnm4ski considered his '99 squad one of the best ever. But they couldn't handle the theatrics of Richard "Rip" Hamilton, the Huskies' wiry forward who scored a game-high 27 points in UConn’s victory.

Finally, in just his second year as Tar Heels coach, Roy Williams (then touted as the best coach not to have won a National Championship) turned a losing team two years prior into national champions. The Illini rallied back from a 10-point deficit with nine minutes remaining, but they couldn't withstand the Heels persistence, or Sean May.

The UNC star scored 26 points and recorded 10 rebounds for Most Outstanding Player honors. Shortly thereafter, May and teammates Raymond Felton, Marvin Williams and Rashad McCants were scooped up in the NBA draft.

(Photos by David E. Klutho/Sports Illustrated, Heinz Kluetmeier/Sports Illustrated, AP, John W. McDounough/Sports Illustrated)

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