In 1979, Michigan State won their first national championship, keeping Indiana State from a perfect season. The Sycamores had Larry Bird, the tournament’s leading scorer and rebounder, while the Spartans countered with Magic Johnson. Michigan State won the title game 75-64 as Johnson was named Most Outstanding Player.

Both Michigan State and Indiana State made their first appearances in the national final in 1979. It would be the last tournament featuring a pair of first-time finalists until 2019.

This was also the first tournament where the entirety of the field was seeded and the only postseason with a 40-team bracket. Indiana State was the lone No. 1 seed at the Final Four while Michigan State was a No. 2 seed. DePaul made it to Salt Lake City as a 2 seed, winning the third-place game. Ivy League member Pennsylvania pulled off multiple upsets to reach the national semifinals as a 9-seed.

1979 NCAA tournament: Bracket

Click or tap here for a closer look at the bracket.

Here is a printable version of the 1979 NCAA tournament bracket.

1979 NCAA tournament: Scores

  • First Round
    • East Regional
      • No. 9 Pennsylvania 73, No. 8 Iona 69
      • No. 10 St. John’s 75, No. 7 Temple 70
    • West Regional
      • No. 7 Southern California 86, No. 10 Utah State 67
      • No. 9 Pepperdine 92, No. 8 Utah 88 (OT)
    • Mideast Regional
      • No. 10 Lamar 95, No. 7 Detroit 87
      • No. 8 Tennessee 97, No. 9 Eastern Kentucky 81
    • Midwest Regional
      • No. 7 Weber State 81, No. 10 New Mexico State 78 (OT)
      • No. 8 Virginia Tech 70, No. 9 Jacksonville 53
  • Second Round
    • East Regional
      • No. 9 Pennsylvania 72, No. 1 North Carolina 71
      • No. 10 St. John’s 80, No. 2 Duke 78
      • No. 6 Rutgers 64, No. 3 Georgetown 58
      • No. 4 Syracuse 89, No. 5 Connecticut 81
    • West Regional
      • No. 1 UCLA 76, No. 9 Pepperdine 71
      • No. 2 DePaul 89, No. 7 Southern California 78
      • No. 3 Marquette 73, No. 6 Pacific 48
      • No. 4 San Francisco 86, No. 5 BYU 63
    • Mideast Regional
      • No. 1 Notre Dame 73, No. 8 Tennessee 67
      • No. 2 Michigan State 95, No. 10 Lamar 64
      • No. 3 LSU 71, No. 6 Appalachian State 57
      • No. 5 Toledo 74, No. 4 Iowa 72
    • Midwest Regional
      • No. 1 Indiana State 86, No. 8 Virginia Tech 69
      • No. 2 Arkansas 74, No. 7 Weber State 63
      • No. 3 Louisville 69, No. 6 South Alabama 66
      • No. 5 Oklahoma 90, No. 4 Texas 76
  • Regional Semifinals
    • East Regional
      • No. 10 St. John’s 67, No. 6 Rutgers 65
      • No. 9 Pennsylvania 84, No. 4 Syracuse 76
    • West Regional
      • No. 1 UCLA 99, No. 4 San Francisco 81
      • No. 2 DePaul 62, No. 3 Marquette 56
    • Mideast Regional
      • No. 1 Notre Dame 79, No. 5 Toledo 71
      • No. 2 Michigan State 87, No. 3 LSU 71
    • Midwest Regional
      • No. 1 Indiana State 93, No. 5 Oklahoma 72
      • No. 2 Arkansas 73, No. 3 Louisville 62
  • Elite Eight
    • East Regional
      • No. 9 Pennsylvania 64, No. 10 St. John’s 62
    • West Regional
      • No. 2 DePaul 95, No. 1 UCLA 91
    • Mideast Regional
      • No. 2 Michigan State 80, No. 1 Notre Dame 68
    • Midwest Regional
      • No. 1 Indiana State 73, No. 2 Arkansas 71
  • Final Four (Salt Lake City, Utah)
    • National semifinals
      • No. 1 Indiana State 76, No. 2 DePaul 74
      • No. 2 Michigan State 101, No. 9 Pennsylvania 67
    • National championship
    • Third-place game
      • No. 2 DePaul 96, No. 9 Penn 93 (OT)

1979 NCAA tournament: Upsets

The following double-digit seeds won games:

TEAM SCORE OPPONENT
FIRST ROUND
No. 10 Lamar 95-87 No. 7 Detroit
No. 10 St. John’s 75-70 No. 7 Temple
SECOND ROUND
No. 10 St. John’s 80-78 No. 2 Duke
REGIONAL SEMIFINALS
No. 10 St. John’s 67-65 No. 6 Rutgers

1979 NCAA tournament: Stats, records

Here are the tournament leaders, with games in parentheses (minimum three games):

Individual scoring

  1. Larry Bird, Indiana State (5) — 27.2

Individual rebounding

  1. Larry Bird, Indiana State (5) — 13.4

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