UConn Beats Duke in Final Four
The 1999 NCAA Men's Division I Basketball Tournament involved 64 schools playing in single-elimination play to determine the national champion of men's NCAA Division I college basketball.
It began on March 11, 1999, and ended with the championship game on March 29 at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, Florida. A total of 63 games were played. This year's Final Four was the first—and so far, only—to be held in a baseball-specific facility, as Tropicana Field is home to the Tampa Bay Rays.
Connecticut, coached by Jim Calhoun, won the national title with a 77-74 victory in the final game over Duke, coached by Mike Krzyzewski. The 1998-1999 Duke team nonetheless tied the record for most games won during a single season, with 37, which they co-held until Memphis' 38-win season in 2007-2008. Richard "Rip" Hamilton of Connecticut was named the tournament's Most Outstanding Player. This was a significant victory for the program, as it cemented Connecticut's reputation as a true basketball power after decades of barely missing the Final Four.
This tournament is also historically notable as the coming-out party for Gonzaga as a rising mid-major power. The Bulldogs became the nation's basketball darlings during a run to the West Regional final in which they defeated three major-conference powers, including 1998 Final Four participant Stanford, and took UConn literally to the last minute before losing. Gonzaga has made every NCAA tournament since then, and is now generally considered to be a high-major program despite its mid-major conference affiliation.
Due to violations committed by Ohio State head coach Jim O'Brien, the Buckeyes were forced to vacate their appearance in the 1999 Final Four.
In a championship game that saw the lead and teams going back and forth at a fevered pace, third-ranked UConn won its first-ever NCAA title with a 77-74 triumph Monday night over the No. 1 Blue Devils, who suffered only their second loss of the season.