On March 18, 1990, in the second round of the NCAA tournament, Loyola Marymount beat Michigan 149-115. That game still holds the record for the highest-scoring final in NCAA tournament history. So, we watched the entire thing to see what we could learn from it.

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Before we get to our takeaways, a little background to two teams who had some of the most compelling stories heading into this matchup:

Coming into the game, Michigan coach Steve Fisher was in his first full season at the helm of the Wolverines. In 1989, then-Michigan coach Bill Frieder took a coaching job with Arizona State during the final week of the regular season. Michigan athletic director Bo Schembechler fired Frieder, and placed Fisher — who was an assistant coach — in charge. Fisher somehow led the Wolverines to the national championship that year. When his Michigan team faced Loyola Marymount the following year, Fisher was 7-0 in NCAA tournament play.

Loyola Marymount entered the game less than a month removed from the tragic death of star Hank Gathers, who collapsed during the West Coast Conference tournament due to a heart condition. The previous year, Gathers had become just the second player in NCAA history to lead Division I in both scoring and rebounding in the same year. The Lions wore #44 patches on their jerseys for the rest of the year to commemorate their teammate.

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This game was played at Long Beach Arena, just 30 miles down the road from LMU’s Los Angeles campus. The crowd will be decidedly Lion-friendly. But still, this was a 3 seed against an 11 seed. The state flagship versus a small private school. The defending champs taking on a Cinderella.

With the stage set, let’s get to the breakdown. 

The game gets chippy early. Mike Griffin is tasked with defending Bo Kimble, who grabbed 18 rebounds in the game right before this. Griffin fouls Kimble, and on the inbounds play, Griffin falls to the floor, struck by a phantom elbow from Kimble, who immediately offers to help him up.

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