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1979 Men's NCAA Basketball Tournament

75 Years of March Madness (NCAA)

1979 NCAA Tournament | Bracket

Champion: Michigan State

Most Outstanding Player: Magic Johnson, Michigan State

Final Four: Michigan State, Indiana State, DePaul, Penn

Shining Moments

  • Magic Johnson vs. Larry Bird. It changed the modern era of college basketball. It was the highest-rated college basketball game in the history of the sport, with two players who wound up also changing the NBA. Magic and the Spartans wound up beating Bird's Sycamores, who came into the game undefeated, 75-64.
  • Bird went for 35 points in a win over DePaul and its star, Mark Aguirre, in the national semifinals. Bird was 16-of-19 from the field, grabbed 16 rebounds and dished out nine assists in one of the most dominating Final Four performances of all-time.
  • This was the first time all the teams were seeded by the NCAA Division I Men's Basketball Committee.
- Jeff Goodman

Championship Game

Location: Salt Lake City

Michigan State (75)
Player Min. FG-A FT-A Reb. A PF Pts.
Mike Brkovich 39 1-2 3-7 4 1 1 5
Greg Kelser 32 7-13 5-6 8 9 4 19
Ron Charles 31 3-3 1-2 7 0 5 7
Terry Donnelly 39 5-5 5-6 4 0 2 15
Magic Johnson 35 8-15 8-10 7 5 3 24
Jay Vincent 19 2-5 1-2 2 0 4 5
Rob Gonzalez 3 0-0 0-0 0 0 0 0
Mike Longaker 2 0-0 0-0 0 0 0 0
Totals 200 26-43 23-33 34 15 19 75
 
Indiana State (64)
Player Min. FG-A FT-A Reb. A PF Pts.
Brad Miley 29 0-0 0-1 3 0 1 0
Alex Gilbert 20 2-3 0-4 4 0 4 4
Larry Bird 40 7-21 5-8 13 2 3 19
Carl Nicks 36 7-14 3-6 2 4 5 17
Steve Reed 36 4-9 0-0 0 9 4 8
Bob Heaton 22 4-14 2-2 6 2 2 10
Leroy Staley 17 2-2 0-1 3 0 2 4
Rich Nemcek 2 1-1 0-0 0 1 3 2
Totals 200 27-64 10-22 34 18 24 64

National semifinals

Michigan State 101, Pennsylvania 67

MICHIGAN STATE (101): M. Brkovich 6-10 0-0 12, Kelser 12-19 4-6 28, Charles 2-2 0-0 4, Donnelly 3-5 0-0 6, Johnson 9-10 11-12 29, Vincent 0-1 3-4 3, Gonzalez 1-5 0-0 2, Longaker 2-2 0-0 4, Lloyd 0-2 6-7 6, Kaye 2-2 1-3 5, Huffman 0-0 0-1 0, Gilkie 0-1 0-0 0, D. Brkovich 1-1 0-1 2. Team 38-60 (.633) 25-34 (.735) 101.

PENNSYLVANIA (67): Price 7-18 4-4 18, Smith 0-6 0-0 0, White 5-12 3-4 13, Salters 1-5 0-0 2, Willis 4-13 1-3 9, Ross 2-6 0-0 4, Hall 3-8 0-1 6, Reynolds 1-3 0-0 2, Leifsen 0-1 1-2 1, Flick 0-6 6-6 6, Jackson 1-2 4-4 6, Kuhl 0-2 0-0 0, Condon 0-0 0-0 0. Team 24-82 (.293) 19-24 (.792) 67.

Halftime: Michigan State 50-17.

Indiana State 76, DePaul 74

INDIANA STATE (76): Miley 2-2 0-0 4, Gilbert 6-7 0-1 12, Bird 16-19 3-4 35, Nicks 4-13 2-2 10, Reed 3-5 0-0 6, Heaton 3-6 0-0 6, Staley 1-4 1-2 3. Team 35-56 (.625) 6-9 (.667) 76.

DEPAUL (74): Watkins 8-11 0-0 16, Aguirre 9-18 1-2 19, Mitchem 6-11 0-0 12, Bradshaw 4-8 0-0 8, Garland 9-18 1-3 19. Team 36-66 (.545) 2-5 (.400) 74.

Halftime: Indiana State 45-42.

All-Tournament Team

Player Pos. Yr. School Statistics
Mark Aguirre F Fr. DePaul (53 pts, 19 rebs)
Larry Bird F-C Sr. Indiana State (54 pts, 29 rebs, 11 assists, 6 steals)
Gary Garland G Sr. DePaul (41 pts, 16 rebs, 13 assists, 7 steals)
Magic Johnson G Soph. Michigan State* (53 pts, 17 rebs, 15 assists)
Greg Kelser F Sr. Michigan State (47 pts, 17 rebs, 12 assists, 6 blks)
*Named Most Outstanding Player.
  • Scoring Leader: Tony Price, Pennsylvania (142 points, 23.7 ppg).
  • Highest Scoring Average: Bill Cartwright, San Francisco (58 points, 29 ppg).
  • Rebounding Leader: Larry Bird, Indiana State (67 rebounds, 13.4 rpg).
  • Highest Rebounding Average: Lionel Green, LSU (31 rebounds, 15.5 rpg).
  • 1979 Tournament Scores

    FIRST ROUND
    East
    No. 10 St. John's 75, No. 7 Temple 70
    No. 9 Penn 73, No. 8 Iona 69

    Mideast
    No. 10 Lamar 95, No. 7 Detroit 87
    No. 8 Tennessee 97, No. 9 Eastern Kentucky 81

    West
    No. 7 Southern Cal 86, No. 10 Utah St. 67
    No. 9 Pepperdine 92, No. 8 Utah 88 (OT)

    Midwest
    No. 7 Weber St. 81, No. 10 New Mexico St. 78 (OT)
    No. 8 Virginia Tech 70, No. 9 Jacksonville 53


    SECOND ROUND
    East
    No. 10 St. John's 80, No. 2 Duke 78
    No. 6 Rutgers 64, No. 3 Georgetown 58
    No. 9 Penn 72, No. 1 North Carolina 71
    No. 4 Syracuse 89, No. 5 Connecticut 81

    Mideast
    No. 2 Michigan St. 95, No. 10 Lamar 64
    No. 3 Louisiana St. 71, No. 6 Appalachian St. 57
    No. 1 Notre Dame 73, No. 8 Tennessee 67
    No. 5 Toledo 74, No. 4 Iowa 72

    West
    No. 2 DePaul 89, No. 7 Southern Cal 78
    No. 3 Marquette 73, No. 6 Pacific 48
    No. 1 UCLA 76, No. 9 Pepperdine 71
    No. 4 San Francisco 86, No. 5 BYU 63

    Midwest
    No. 2 Arkansas 74, No. 7 Weber St. 63
    No. 3 Louisville 69, No. 6 South Alabama 66
    No. 1 Indiana St. 86, No. 8 Virginia Tech 69
    No. 5 Oklahoma 90, No. 4 Texas 76


    REGIONAL SEMIFINALS
    East
    St. John's 67, Rutgers 65
    Penn 84, Syracuse 76

    Mideast
    Michigan St. 87, Louisiana St. 71
    Notre Dame 79, Toledo 71

    West
    DePaul 62, Marquette 56
    UCLA 99, San Francisco 81

    Midwest
    Arkansas 73, Louisville 62
    Indiana St. 93, Oklahoma 72


    REGIONAL FINALS
    East
    Penn 64, St. John's 62

    Mideast
    Michigan St. 80, Notre Dame 68

    West
    DePaul 95, UCLA 91

    Midwest
    Indiana St. 73, Arkansas 71


    NATIONAL SEMIFINALS
    Michigan St. 101, Penn 67
    Indiana St. 76, DePaul 74

    NATIONAL THIRD PLACE
    DePaul 96, Penn 93

    NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIP
    Michigan St. 75, Indiana St. 64

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