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1998 Men's Basketball Tournament

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Next Thursday and Friday will be what I consider the best two days of the year in sports. There is simply nothing more fun from a viewing standpoint than the 1st round of the NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament. 16 games both days with basketall all day long on CBS. You know you won't get through the day without seeing something exciting. I had originally scheduled both days off from work but someone in my department was let go last week and I do the work of two people as it is I might be going in Thursday so we don't fall behind. But for at least a day and a half I'll just be gorging myself on college basketball.

 

My favorite tournament by far was the 1998 tournament, simply because Stanford had ended a 56 year drought and reached the Final Four. After being a perennial doormat on the west coast for a number of years, Mike Montgomery had legitimized the program. After 1st round losses in 1989 and 1992, in 1995 Stanford picked up their first tournament win since the 1942 National Championship. Next year they'd nearly upset Marcus Camby and UMass in the 2nd round. In '97 they would end Tim Duncan's college career by beating Wake Forest in the 2nd round before losing in overtime to Keith Van Horn and Utah in the Sweet 16.

 

For the '97-98 season they would return with much of same team at the core but with one big loss in All-American point guard Brevin Knight. Junior Arthur Lee would take over the point with the rest of the line up being Kris Weems, Pete Sauer, Mark Madsen, and Tim Young. One of their last games of the regular season was a 32 point humiliation by Arizona. Although just their fourth loss of the season many doubted Stanford would last in the tournament. I can still remember after they were given a #3 seed, Digger Phelps whined about them getting such a high seed on ESPN's selection show and it was the only team he thought was seeded too high.

 

Some people's doubts seemed warranted after they had a surprisingly tough game from the College of Charleston in the first round. After that they though they would blow out Western Michigan in the 2nd round and then just beat the shit out of Purdue in the Sweet 16. Now the Purdue game wasn't a blow out but the Boilermakers were expected to out physical Stanford with well publicized inside duo of Brad Miller and Brian Cardinal. But led by Mark Madsen and freshman Jarron Collins they just punished the Purdue duo the entire game. Then came the regional final against upstart Rhode Island led by their backcourt of Cuttino Mobley and Tyson Wheeler. As the #8 seed they had upset #1 seed Kansas in the 2nd round and then eliminated the feel good team of the tournament Valparaiso. I fully expected Stanford to beat them but by the end of the game was just a wreck as URI controlled most of the game. Then came one of the great individual performances in the final minute of a game.

 

Mobely hit two free throws with 59.3 seconds left to put URI up 71-65. Arthur Lee then took over the game.

 

-Lee hits an off balance three pointer with 52 seconds left, 71-68 URI

 

-Stanford fouls with 49.8 seconds left, Mobely hits one out of two free throws, 72-68 URI

 

-Lee feeds Mark Madsen inside for two with 40.7 seconds left, 72-70 URI

 

-Stanford fouls with 38.8 seconds left, Preston Murphy hits two free throws, 74-70 URI

 

-Lee drives the length of court, scores and is fouled with 32 seconds left, hits the free throw (didn't miss the entire tournament), 74-73 URI

 

-Lee strips Mobely after the inbound, the ball gets knocked to Madsen, he dunks and is fouled with 26.2 seconds left, hits the free throw, 76-74 Stanford. I've watched that play on tape probably a few hundred times and I'll never get tired of it.

 

URI would unrravel after that, turning the ball over the next posession, then Tyson Wheeler would miss three free throws, Lee would hit two more free throws, a URI half court shot at the buzzer would end the score at 79-77 Stanford. Lee scored 10 points and had the key steal of the game in the final minute. Stanford advanced to play Kentucky in the Final Four. Everyone, and I mean everyone, pretty much was preparing for a Kentucky/North Carolina final as Stanford and Utah were after thoughts. The Cardinal would lose to Kentucky in a forgotten classic 86-85 in overtime. I think it gets forgotten as one of the great tournament games because it didn't have that dramatic finish or an upset that other great games get remembered for. It was just a incredibly well played game by both teams and Dean Smith after the game on CBS said it was the best game he'd ever seen. I remember not even being upset after they lost as they weren't expected to give Kentucky any sort of a challenge and they played so well that I couldn't be mad that they came up short. It's the one game where a favorite team of mine lost that I would still watch on tape years later.

 

1998 Tournament Results

 

March 12, 1998

 

East Region

#1 North Carolina 88, #16 Navy 52

#8 Charlotte 77, #9 Illinois-Chicago 59

#4 Michigan State 83, #13 Eastern Michigan 71

#5 Princeton 69, #12 UNLV 57

#14 Richmond 62, #3 South Carolina 61

#11 Washington 69, #6 Xavier 68

#2 Connecticut93, #15 Farleigh Dickenson 85

#7 Indiana 94, #10 Oklahoma 87 OT

 

West Region

#1 Arizona 99, #16 Nicholls State 60

#9 Illinois State 82, #8 Tennessee 81 OT

#4 Maryland 82, #13 Utah State 68

#5 Illinois 64, #12 South Alabama 51

#3 Utah 85, #14 San Francisco 68

#6 Arkansas 74, #11 Nebraska 65

#2 Cincinnati 65, #15 Northern Arizona 62

#10 West Virginia 82, #7 Temple 52

 

March 13, 1998

 

Midwest Region

#1 Kansas 110, #16 Prairie View 52

#8 Rhode Island 97, #9 Murray State 74

#13 Valparaiso 70, #4 Mississippi 69

#12 Florida State 96, #5 TCU 87

#3 Stanford 67, #14 Charleston 57

#11 Western Michigan 75, #6 Clemson 72

#2 Purdue 95, #15 Delaware 56

#10 Detroit 66, #7 St. John's 64

 

South Region

#1 Duke 99, #16 Radford 63

#8 Oklahoma State 74, #9 George Washington 59

#4 New Mexico 79, #13 Butler 62

#5 Syracuse 63, #12 Iona 61

#3 Michigan 80, #14 Davidson 61

#6 UCLA 65, #11 Miami 62

#2 Kentucky 82, #15 South Carolina State 67

#10 Saint Louis 51, #7 UMass 46

 

March 14, 1998

 

East Region

#1 North Carolina 93, #8 Charlotte 83 OT

#4 Michigan State 63, #5 Princeton 56

#11 Washington 87, #14 Richmond 66

#2 Connecticut 78, #7 Indiana 68

 

Midwest Region

#1 Arizona 82, #9 Illinois State 49

#4 Maryland 67, #5 Illinois 61

#3 Utah 75, #6 Arkansas 69

#10 West Virginia 75, #2 Cincinnati 74

 

March 15, 1998

 

Midwest Region

#8 Rhode Island 80, #1 Kansas 75

#13 Valparaiso 83, #12 Florida State 77 OT

#3 Stanford 83, #11 Western Michigan 65

#2 Purdue 80, #10 Detroit 65

 

South Region

#1 Duke 79, #8 Oklahoma State 73

#5 Syracuse 56, #4 New Mexico 46

#6 UCLA 85, #3 Michigan 82

#2 Kentucky 88, #10 Saint Louis 61

 

March 19, 1998

 

East Region

#1 North Carolina 73, #4 Michigan State 58

#2 Connecticut 75, #11 Washington 74

 

West Region

#1 Arizona 87, #4 Maryland 79

#3 Utah 65, #10 West Virginia 62

 

March 20, 1998

 

Midwest Region

#8 Rhode Island 74, #13 Valparaiso 68

#3 Stanford 67, #2 Purdue 59

 

South Region

#1 Duke 80, #5 Syracuse 67

#2 Kentucky 94, #6 UCLA 68

 

March 21, 1998

 

East Region

#1 North Carolina 75, #2 Connecticut 64

 

West Region

#3 Utah 76, #1 Arizona 51

 

March 22, 1998

 

Midwest Region

#3 Stanford 79, #8 Rhode Island 77

 

South Region

#2 Kentucky 86, #1 Duke 84

 

March 28, 1998

 

Final Four

Kentucky 86, Stanford 85 OT

Utah 65, North Carolina 59

 

National Championship

Kentucky 78, Utah 69

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