Kentucky’s Anthony Davis and Kansas’ Thomas Robinson have graced college basketball throughout this season, and tonight is their parting gift: a rare collision of consensus first-team All-Americans in the national championship game.
This marks the NCAA’s 74th title contest, but only the 12th to pit consensus All-Americans. Downright common in the 1960s, ‘70s and ‘80s, such matchups have gone into hibernation.
- Teel Time: Picking Final Four of Kentucky, Florida State, Marquette, Kansas
- Teel Time: Envisioning Troy Williams at Kentucky instead of North Carolina or Georgetown
- Teel Time: Blue-blooded Final Four lacks ACC team for second straight season
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Conversely, we once had three such final in six years: Michigan State’s Magic Johnson and Indiana State’s Larry Bird in 1979, North Carolina’s James Worthy and Georgetown’s Sleepy Floyd in ’82, and Georgetown’s Patrick Ewing vs. Houston’s Akeem Olajuwon in ’84.
Compiling the list is fairly easy, thanks to Page 19 of the Final Four record book, which lists all the consensus All-Americans to play in the event.
Here’s a chronological litany of the 11 previous matchups, including some stats:
* 1955: Bill Russell leads San Francisco to the first of its two consecutive titles with 23 points as the Dons defeat Tom Gola (16 points) and LaSalle 77-63.
* 1957: Kansas’ Wilt Chamberlain has game-highs of 23 points and 14 rebounds, but Lennie Rosenbluth’s 20 points carry North Carolina to a 54-53, triple-overtime victory.
* 1963: Loyola of Chicago’s Jerry Harkness outscores Cincinnati’s Tom Thacker 14-13 to lead his team to a 60-58 overtime upset of the two-time defending champions.
* 1965: Arguably the greatest show staged by two All-Americans in the final. Gail Goodrich scores a then-championship-game record 42 points to lead UCLA over Cazzie Russell (28 points) and Michigan, 91-80. Goodrich and Russell combine to shoot 22-of-38 from the floor, 26-for-29 from the foul line.
* 1968: North Carolina and Larry Miller (14 points) are no match for UCLA and Lew Alcindor, whose 34 points and 16 rebounds key the Bruins’ 78-55 rout.
* 1969: Purdue and sharpshooter Rick Mount (28 points) suffer the same fate, falling to Alcindor (37 points, 20 boards) and UCLA, 92-72.
* 1979: Magic (24 points, seven rebounds) wins the first of many duels with Bird (19 and 13) as Michigan State bests Indiana State 75-64.
* 1982: Worthy’s 28 points on 13-of-17 shooting give Dean Smith his first national championship as North Carolina edges Floyd (18 points) and Georgetown 63-62 on a late, left-wing jumper by some kid named Jordan.
* 1984: Ewing has modest numbers (10 points, nine rebounds), but the Hoyas defeat Olajuwon (15 and nine) and Houston, 84-75.
* 1999: Hamilton’s 27 points carry UConn to its first championship as the Huskies best Brand (15 points, 13 rebounds) and Duke, 77-74.
Don’t know about you, but it’s fun to revisit history. There’s no truth to the rumor that I was courtside for the 1939 final, but sources tell me the wireless Internet connection on press row that day in Evanston, Ill., was spotty.
Enjoy tonight’s game y’all.
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