Monday, March 24, 2014

Magic Johnson and Larry Bird Go Toe-To-Toe

On March 24, 1979,  Magic Johnson and Larry Bird lead their respective teams to the 1979 NCAA finals.  Magic’s Michigan State team would destroy Penn State by a score of 101-67, while Bird’s Indiana State would beat out DePaul 76-74.

Larry Bird (back left) watches Magic Johnson (right) take free throws in their 1979 NCAA tournament game.

Both Magic and Larry would have outstanding games in their respective semi-final games.  Magic registered a triple-double, with 29 points to go along with his 10 rebounds and 10 assists, as he was nearly perfect that day going 9-for-10 from the field and 11-for-12 from the free throw line.  As for Bird, he would narrowly miss a triple-double of his own with 35 points, 16 rebounds and nine assists.
Michigan State and Indiana State would go on to face each other in the NCAA championship game, as this would mark the beginning of one of sports’ biggest rivalries.
Magic Johnson (left) and Larry Bird (right) wait for a free throw shot in their 1979 NCAA tournament game.
Michigan State has a chance to add onto their NCAA Tournament resume this year, while Indiana State missed the cut.
Michigan State has compiled two NCAA Tournament championships in 1979 and 2000. They were the Tournament runner-up in 2009. The Spartans have reached the Final Four eight times including back-to-back-back appearances in 1999, 2000 and 2001. Their last appearance in the Final Four came in 2010. The Spartans have also reached the Elite Eight 11 times, the Sweet Sixteen 17 times, including four straight years from 1998-2001. Overall the Spartans have reached the NCAA Tournament 28 times, and is on their 17 consecutive appearance this year dating back to 1998.
While Michigan State won the NCAA Tournament in 1979, and again in 2000, Indiana State had never won the NCAA Tournament. Their highest finish ever was in 1979 when Bird’s team lost to Michigan State. The Sycamores have only reached the Final Four, Elite Eight and Sweet Sixteen once, in 1979.
They Sycamores have reached the NCAA Tournament four times though in 1979, 2001, 2001 and 2011.