The stars sometimes align in college basketball’s favor.
The men’s basketball teams of Texas Tech and the University of Virginia will revive history Monday night in Minneapolis, Minn., when they play for the 2019 NCAA Tournament championship. For the first time in 40 years, the national title game will feature two teams that have never won college basketball’s biggest prize.
While plenty of basketball fans in Boston and Los Angeles need no extra motivation to tune in, others might want to do so for one reason above all others.
The last time first-time finalists met in the title game was in 1979 when Michigan State took on Indiana State in the most iconic college basketball game in generations. After all, the game marked the first time rivals Magic Johnson and Larry Bird would meet on the court.
The NCAA on Saturday released a video feature, which relives the dawn of the “Magic vs. Larry” rivalry.
Johnson’s Michigan State team beat Bird’s Indiana State team in the 1979 title game. They soon transferred their rivalry to the NBA, where Bird’s Boston Celtics and Johnson’s Los Angeles Lakers would match wits repeatedly in the following decade and help lift the league out of its previous doldrums.
Although the current stars on Texas Tech and UVA probably won’t have the same effect on college basketball, the NBA or the nation at-large, Monday night’s game is the perfect time to reflect on the shining moment when budding legends changed the game forever.
Thumbnail photo via Shanna Lockwood/USA TODAY Sports Images