The 1981 NCAA Men's Division I Basketball Tournament involved 48 schools playing in single-elimination play to determine the national champion of men's NCAA Division I college basketball. It began on March 12, 1981, and ended with the championship game on March 30 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. A total of 48 games were played, including a national third place game (the last in the NCAA tournament).
Indiana, coached by Bob Knight, won the national title with a 63-50 victory in the final game over North Carolina, coached by Dean Smith. Isiah Thomas of Indiana was named the tournament's Most Outstanding Player.