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March Madness Flashback: The Top Five Michigan/Michigan State NCAA Basketball Moments [Video]

Michigan and Michigan State are both set to begin their 2017 NCAA Tournament journeys this Friday. Both the Wolverines and the Spartans have a storied history in the NCAA tournament.

From Chris Webber’s phantom time out in the 1993 championship game to the Flintstones leading Michigan State to the title in 2000, our state has had some memorable March Madness moments. Here are some of the highest (and lowest) moments.

1979 — Magic Johnson and Larry Bird duel at the 1979 Championships in Salt Lake City

Wanna talk about the moment the NCAA’s final became shining? Prior to Michigan State’s Magic Johnson and Indiana State’s Larry Bird duel, the NCAA tournament was a run of the mill sporting attraction, afterwards, it was MARCH MADNESS! The enigmatic Johnson had paced MSU to its best season in years, while Bird and his Sycamores came in to SLC undefeated. Johnson dominated the title game with 24 points and won the MVP Award. Bird finished with 19. Johnson and Bird later took their act to the NBA and it became the stuff of legends.

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1989 — Michigan’s coach forced to resign, team responds by winning the NCAA title

Shortly before the NCAA tournament got underway in 1989, Michigan coach Bill Frieder announced he would be leaving Ann Arbor to take the head coaching job at Arizona State. Enraged, Michigan Athletic Director Bo Schembechler told Frieder to hit the road now because he wasn’t wanted any more. This left assistant coach Steve Fisher to guide the team in the tournament. Despite finishing third in the Big Ten, the Wolverines rolled off six straight NCAA tourney wins, securing the title on two free throws in overtime by Rumeal Robinson to defeat Seton Hall 80-79 and reign as National Champs. Fisher went on to take two more teams to the NCAA FInals, but never won another title. Frieder, meanwhile, failed to win anything while at ASU, finishing no better than third in the Pac 10.

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2000 — The Flintstones lead Tom Izzo to his only National Title

The Flintstones were a group of three athletes from Flint (Morris Peterson, Mateen Cleaves and Charlie Bell) who led the Spartans to the Big ten title and a number one seed in the NCAA Tournament. Once there, the Spartans dominated, with no team getting within 11 points of them, as they won the title over Florida 89-76, giving Izzo his first (and only so far) National Championship. To be fair, he has been back to the Final Four six more times, and has 20 staright NCAA appearances.

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1992 — The Fab Five unexpectably roll into the title game

Michigan fans knew the 1991-92 basketball team was going to be special. Coach Steve Fisher had gone out and signed five of the best high school players in the country: Juwan Howard, Chris Webber, Jalen Rose, Jimmy King and Ray Jackson. They called themselves the Fab Five, and after some early tinkering with the lineup, Fisher eventually started all five. Although they failed to win the Big Ten title, they went on a run in the NCAA tournament, which included an upset win over arch rival Ohio State, and wound up in the NCAA Championship game against Duke, where they were gunned down by the senior laden Blue Devils 71-51. But their legacy had been made.

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1993 — The Fab Five return, only to fall victim to the ‘phantom time out’

Although they sold more merchandise than any other college athletes, and they garnered a record number of viewers for thie ESPN documentary, the sad truth is the Fab Five never won any title, Big Ten or otherwise during their short stint in Ann Arbor. In 1993, Fisher and the Five returned the national title game against North Carolina and had a chance to win, until Chris Webber inexplicably called a time out that the team didn’t have, and the resulting technical foul resulted in a heartbreaking 77-71 loss. To his credit, Webber owned up to this mistake, but the Fab Five split up after the season, with three players going pro.

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