Michigan State, coached by Jud Heathcote, won the national title with a 75-64 victory in the final game over Indiana State, coached by Bill Hodges. Magic Johnson of Michigan State was named the tournament's Most Outstanding Player.
The final game marked the beginning of the rivalry between future Hall of Famers Johnson and Larry Bird. To this day, it remains the highest-rated game in the history of televised college basketball. Both Magic and Bird would enter the NBA in the fall of 1979, and the rivalry between them and their teams (respectively, the Los Angeles Lakers and Boston Celtics) was a major factor in the league's renaissance in the 1980s and 1990s. The game also led to the "modern era" of college basketball, as it introduced a nationwide audience to a sport that was once relegated to second-class status in the sports world.
This was the first tournament in which all teams were seeded by the NCAA Division I Men's Basketball Committee. The top six seeds in each regional received byes to the second round, while seeds 7-10 played in the first round.
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