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Sports Then and Now



30 Years Ago: The Birth of March Madness 5

Posted on March 13, 2011 by A.J. Foss
Lonnie McFarlan passes to John Smith for layup that would shock top seeded DePaul.

Lonnie McFarlan passes to John Smith for layup that shocks top-seeded DePaul.

The NCAA Basketball tournament began with the 1979 national championship game between the Michigan State Spartans and the Indiana State Sycamores, featuring Magic Johnson for the Spartans and Larry Bird for the Sycamores.

But the madness really began on March 14, 1981, when the top two ranked teams in the country and the defending national champions were all knocked off in buzzer beater losses.

All in the same afternoon.

The action began in Austin, Texas when the defending national champion Louisville Cardinals faced off with the Arkansas Razorbacks.

The game was close throughout but it appeared the Cardinals would advance to the Sweet 16 after guard Derek Smith hit the go-ahead basket to give Louisville a 73-72 lead with five seconds left. Read the rest of this entry →

  • Vintage Athlete of the Month

    • Hall of Famer Tony Oliva
      July 17, 2022 | 2:15 pm
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      After waiting for 45 years after his retirement, the Sports Then and Now Vintage Athlete of the Month is finally taking his rightful place as a member of the Baseball Hall of Fame.

      Before injuries cut short his Hall of Fame worthy career, Tony Oliva was one of the best hitters in baseball and combined with Hall of Famers Rod Carew and Harmen Killebrew to make the Minnesota Twins a perennial American League contender during the late 1960s.

      Discovered on the baseball fields of Cuba by a Minnesota Twin scout, Oliva came to the United States in 1961 and within three years the American League Rookie of the Year. There have been many great MLB players from Cuba, including a new generation of stars today, but it is hard to argue that there has been a better player from the island in MLB than Oliva.

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