Michigan State vs. Indiana State (1979)
Michigan State:75 Indiana State: 64
This game was the beginning of the rivalry between Magic Johnson and Larry Bird. It was a match-up that captivated the audience, bringing college basketball into the mainstream. It's still the most-watched college basketball game in history with over 35.11 million viewers.
Indiana State entered the game undefeated, but Michigan State proved to be too much for the Sycamores. Johnson had 24 points and seven rebounds. He was on his way to being named the tournament's Most Outstanding Player. Bird had 19 points and 13 rebounds, but he made just seven of 21 from the field.
Kansas vs. Memphis (2008)
Kansas:75 Memphis: 68
Memphis led by nine points with just over two minutes to go in regulation, and it looked like John Calipari would win his first national title. However, the Tigers struggled from the free throw line, missing four of their last five attempts in regulation. Kansas took full advantage, scoring 12 points in the final two minutes to overcome the deficit.
With 10.8 seconds left, Memphis freshman point guard Derrick Rose made one of two free throws to push the lead to three. Kansas then raced the ball down the court, and Sherron Collins handed the ball off to Mario Chalmers. He drained a three with 2.1 seconds left to send the game into overtime. The Kansas Jayhawks proceeded to score the first six points in overtime and won their first national title since 1988.
Texas Western vs. Kentucky (1966)
Texas Western: 72 Kentucky: 65
Texas Western made history, becoming the first team to win a national title while starting five African-American players. The Miners defeated Adolph Rupp and top-ranked Kentucky, led by Louie Dampier and Pat Riley. The win was hard fought.
Texas Western entered the NCAA tournament ranked number three in the country, and with the win, the Miners finished the season 28-1. While the game itself was not as riveting as some, it was yet another example of sports playing a role in breaking down racial barriers and stereotypes.
North Carolina vs. Michigan (1993)
North Carolina: 77 Michigan: 71
Michigan and the "Fab Five," which consisted of Detroit natives Chris Webber (#1) and Jalen Rose (#5), Chicago native Juwan Howard (#3), Jimmy King (#9) and Ray Jackson (#8). They were in their second straight national title game and faced a 73-71 deficit. The ball with just over 20 seconds to go after Chris Webber rebounded a throw missed by Pat Sullivan. From that point, nothing went right for Webber.
First, he dragged his pivot foot as he was about to pass to the guards. That "traveling violation" wasn't called, and he proceeded to dribble the ball up the floor. Webber took the ball all the way down to the right wing where he was trapped. He called a timeout, but unfortunately, the Wolverines had already used their allotment of timeouts. The result was a technical foul, and the Tar Heels went on to win 77-71. It was Coach Dean Smith's second and final national title.
Michigan vs. Seton Hall (1989)
Michigan: 80 Seton Hall: 79
Prior to the NCAA tournament, Michigan Coach Bill Frieder announced he was heading to Arizona State after the season. That didn't sit well with Michigan athletic director Bo Schembechler, so he fired Frieder. Steve Fisher, Frieder's top assistant with no collegiate head coaching experience, was then appointed interim head coach.
From there, Glen Rice put Michigan on his back, scoring 184 points over six games to earn Most Outstanding Player. In the title game against Seton Hall, Rice had 31 points. However, it was Rumeal Robinson who hit two free throws with three seconds left in overtime to push Michigan past the Seton Hall Pirates.
Indiana vs. Syracuse (1987)
Indiana: 74 Syracuse: 73
Indiana's Keith Smart, a junior college transfer, will forever be remembered in the college basketball world for his performance against Syracuse in the national title game.
Smart, the team's fifth-leading scorer of the season, scored 17 points in the second half and hit a jumper from the left baseline with under five seconds left; this put the Hoosiers ahead by a point. Smart's performance earned him Most Outstanding Player. It also gave Indiana Coach Bob Knight his third and final national title.
North Carolina vs. Kansas (1957)
North Carolina: 54 Kansas: 53
North Carolina entered the national title game undefeated, but Kansas and Wilt Chamberlain were standing in the way of the college's first-ever NCAA tournament title. Tar Heels Coach Frank McGuire famously sent 5'11" Tommy Kearns to face Chamberlain in the opening jump ball, putting his four other players in a zone defense underneath the basket.
There were three (count 'em, THREE) overtimes, and they featured plenty of stalling as each team scored just two points in the first two extra periods. Then, North Carolina outscored Kansas 6-5 in the third overtime, eventually pulling ahead thanks to a pair of late free throws by Joe Quigg.
North Carolina vs. Georgetown (1982)
North Carolina: 63 Georgetown: 62
The 1982 title game featured plenty of star power. Patrick Ewing led Georgetown, while North Carolina had Sam Perkins and James Worthy. However, it was a freshman who stole the spotlight late in the game when young Michael Jordan hit a shot from the left wing with 17 seconds left to put the Tar Heels ahead 63-62.
What happened next was one of the strangest plays in Final Four history. Georgetown rushed the ball up the court, but Hoyas guard Fred Brown mistakenly threw the ball to Worthy. Worthy missed both free throws, but Georgetown was only able to get off a desperation shot that fell short, giving Coach Dean Smith his first national title.
North Carolina State vs. Houston (1983)
North Carolina State: 54 Houston: 52
The Wolfpack were heavy underdogs against Houston's high-flying attack known as "Phi Slama Jama." Akeem Olajuwon and Clyde Drexler led the Cougars, and they had just beaten second-ranked Louisville in the national semifinals. North Carolina State had several close calls on its way to the Final Four. The Wolfpack beat Pepperdine by two in double-overtime in the first round, UNLV by one point in the second round, and Virginia by one point in the Elite Eight.
With the score tied against Houston, Derek Whittenburg put up a desperation shot from about 30 feet with seconds left on the clock. The shot was way off, but Lorenzo Charles grabbed the ball out of the air and dunked it home right before the buzzer sounded for the win. The result was one of the most iconic moments in NCAA tournament history, as Wolfpack Coach Jim Valvano ran around the floor desperately looking for someone to hug.
Villanova vs. Georgetown (1985)
Villanova: 66 Georgetown: 64
The 1985 national title game capped off the most improbable run in NCAA tournament history. Villanova won the national title as a number eight seed in the first year the tournament was expanded to 64 teams. The Wildcats are still the lowest seed ever to cut down the nets.
As for the game, Villanova played as close to perfect as a team can play to upset the Hoyas, who were looking for their second consecutive national title. The Wildcats shot 78.6 percent for the game and missed one shot the entire second half. Villanova's Ed Pinckney was named the tournament's Most Outstanding Player. He had 16 points and six rebounds in the championship game.