The tournament's top four teams were Kentucky, Duke, Stanford, and Saint Joseph's. If all of those teams had proceeded to the Final Four, Kentucky would have faced Saint Joseph's in the semifinals, and Duke would have faced Stanford...
In fact, all four semifinal matchups were already determined before any games were played. The Elite Eight consisted of: Kentucky vs. Duke, Stanford vs. Missouri, Indiana vs. North Carolina, and Memphis vs. Illinois.
In the end, Louisville defeated Kentucky to become the first No. 5 seed to defeat a No. 1 seed since 1993, when Arizona beat Michigan State for that honor. Duke also advanced with a win over Stanford. Missouri lost to Duke but made it into the National Championship game anyway because Kansas lost to Arkansas during the second round. Illinois was eliminated after losing to Memphis.
This year's field was considered the strongest ever. A record number of teams made the tournament, while all but one of this season's winners received bids. That one exception was Wisconsin, which came into the event as a No. 2 seed but lost in its first game of the weekend to Colorado. Still, nobody could have predicted that Wisconsin would have been so ineffective on offense, scoring only 69 points against Colorado's defense, which allowed just 56 points per game going into the tournament.
It was also the first year where the national semifinal matches were selected in part by the overall seeding of the best team in each regional. First-time participants were Arizona State, Auburn, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Maryland, Memphis, North Carolina, Ohio State, Oklahoma, Pittsburgh, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia, and Washington.
The championship game was won by Duke, who beat Stanford 93-89. It was the second title for Coach Mike Krzyzewski, and it gave him an NBA-record 33rd win in a single season.
Duke played without center Arvydas Sabonis, who had surgery to repair a torn ligament in his right thumb. Without their star player, Coach K was forced to use up all of his remaining available players during the last few minutes of the game. This included freshman center Zydrunas Ilgauskas, who scored 11 points off the bench for the Blue Devils.
Ilgauskas would go on to have a very successful career in the NBA, playing 12 seasons and winning two championships with Cleveland/LA Lakers. He averaged 14.8 points per game in his final season.
11 and defeating USC in the First Four in Dayton to reach the Final Four in Houston. UCLA advanced from the first four to the final four in 2020-21 after defeating No. 1 Michigan in the Elite Eight... How the first four at-large teams fare in the NCAA tournament
|2015-16 Michigan (22-12)||11||L, No. 6 Notre Dame, 70-63|
Total number of appearances in the Final Four
Houston and Louisville also advanced to the Final Four in New Orleans that year. With 17 seconds remaining, freshman Michael Jordan of UNC scored the game-winning shot. For a deeper look at the 1982 March Madness bracket, click or touch here.
Michael Jordan was the only player from that year's team still on campus when Houston played Louisville in the semifinals of the 1983 National Championship Game. Houston lost that game too, but it was clear by then that Jordan was going to be very difficult to stop with a full court press. He went on to become one of the greatest players in NBA history.
After his short career at UNCHouston ended in 1990, he immediately turned out for the Chicago Bulls, where he helped bring an end to the Milwaukee Bucks' long run of winning seasons. By the time he retired after the 1997-98 season, he had already won six NBA championships.
During his eight years in Chapel Hill, North Carolina, Michael Jordan made the NCAA Tournament every year and won three national titles. His presence alone could have given Houston a chance in any game they played against him. But even without him, Houston would have been able to advance further than it did in '82 because of all the other talent on its roster at any given time. In fact, no one on that team finished below third place in the ACC during those years.
Starting with LSU in 1986, five 11-seeds have made the Final Four, including UCLA in 2021. The second such squad did not arise until 2006, 20 years later, when George Mason repeated the feat. It took far less time for the next 11 seeds to reach the Final Four: VCU in 2011.
That's 12 seasons in a row where an 11th seed has been able to make the NCAA Tournament. There have been only four other instances since 1986 where eight different teams have reached the Final Four. The last such group was Texas in 2014. Before that, no eight-team field had ever made it to the final weekend of the tournament.
Here are the other 11-seed champions since 1986: Michigan State (2016), North Carolina (2017), Auburn (2018), and Virginia (2019).
The 11th seed is an old one. It came into existence in 1979 when Arizona State played Indiana in the First Round. The Sun Devils were given a No. 11 seed because they were a non-conference team who failed to win any of their conference tournaments.
Since then, an 11th seed has come from outside of the Top 100 every year except 2001 when South Florida missed the cut. An 11th seed has always made it to the Sweet 16 or further. No 10 seeds have ever reached the same stage.