Michigan State Beats Indiana State in Final Four
The 1979 NCAA Men's Division I Basketball Tournament involved 40 schools playing in single-elimination play to determine the national champion of men's NCAA Division I college basketball.
It began on March 9, 1979, and ended with the championship game on March 26 in Salt Lake City, Utah. A total of 40 games were played, including a national third place game.
Michigan State, coached by Jud Heathcote, won the national title with a 75-64 victory in the final game over Indiana State, coached by Bill Hodges. Indiana State came into the game without a loss all season, but couldn't win their final game. Magic Johnson of Michigan State was named the tournament's Most Outstanding Player. Michigan State's victory over Indiana State was its first over a number one ranked team, and remained its only victory over a number one ranked team until 2007 (Wisconsin).
The final game marked the beginning of the rivalry between future Hall of Famers Johnson and Larry Bird. To this day, it remains the highest-rated game in the history of televised college basketball. Both Magic and Bird would enter the NBA in the fall of 1979, and the rivalry between them and their teams (respectively, the Los Angeles Lakers and Boston Celtics) was a major factor in the league's renaissance in the 1980s and 1990s. The game also led to the "modern era" of college basketball, as it introduced a nationwide audience to a sport that was once relegated to second-class status in the sports world.
With the loss in the championship game, Indiana State has finished as the National Runner-up in the NAIA (1946 and 1948), the NCAA Division I (1979) and the NCAA Division II (1968) making them the only school to do so. This was the first tournament in which all teams were seeded by the NCAA Division I Men's Basketball Committee. The top six seeds in each regional received byes to the second round, while seeds 7-10 played in the first round. It is also notable as the last Final Four played in an on-campus arena, at the University of Utah. It has, however, been played in a team's regular off-campus home arena three times since then: 1983 at University Arena, New Mexico's home court; 1985 at Rupp Arena, Kentucky's home court; and 1996 at Continental Airlines Arena, Seton Hall's home court. Given the use of domed stadiums for modern Final Fours, it is highly likely this will be the last Final Four on a college campus.
The rivalry between future Hall of Famers Magic Johnson and Larry Bird had its beginning in the 1979 NCAA Championship Game as Johnson's Michigan State collected its first national title by beating Bird's previously undefeated and number one ranked Indiana State.