The 1986 NCAA Division I Men's Basketball Tournament involved 64 schools playing in single-elimination play to determine the national champion of men's NCAA Division I college basketball. It began on March 13, 1986, and ended with the championship game on March 31 in Dallas, Texas. A total of 63 games were played.
Louisville, coached by Denny Crum, won the national title with a 72-69 victory in the final game over Duke, coached by Mike Krzyzewski. Pervis Ellison of Louisville was named the tournament's Most Outstanding Player.
The 1986 NCAA Men's Basketball Championship Tournament was the first tournament to use a shot clock limiting the amount of time for any one offensive possession by a team prior to taking a shot at the basket. Beginning with the 1986 tournament, the shot clock was set at 45 seconds, which it would remain until being shortened to 35 seconds beginning in the 1994 NCAA Men's Division I Basketball Tournament, and further shortened to 30 seconds starting with the 2016 NCAA Men's Division I Basketball Tournament. The 1986 tournament was also the last to not feature the Three-Point Shot.
LSU's 1985–86 team is tied for the lowest-seeded team (#11) to ever make the Final Four (with George Mason's 2005–2006 team and VCU's 2010–2011 team). As of 2013, they are the only team in tournament history to beat the top 3 seeds from their region. LSU began its run to the Final Four by winning two games on its home court, leading to a change two years later which prohibited teams from playing NCAA tournament games on a court which they have played four or more games in the regular season. Cleveland State University became the first #14 seed to reach the Sweet Sixteen, losing to their fellow underdog, Navy, by a single point. This was also the first year in which two #14 seeds reached the second round in the same year, as Arkansas-Little Rock beat #3-seed Notre Dame; however, they lost their second-round game in overtime. Both feats have only occurred one other time. Chattanooga reached the Sweet Sixteen as a 14-seed in 1997, and Old Dominion and Weber State both reached the second round as 14-seeds in 1995.
Every regional final featured a #1 or #2 seed playing a team seeded #6 or lower. The lone #1 seed to not reach the Elite Eight, St. John's (West), was knocked out in the second round by #8 Auburn, which lost to #2 Louisville in the regional final.
It can be argued that these upsets by the 14-seeds launched the NCAA Tournament's reputation for having unknown teams surprise well-known basketball powers, and both happened on the same day. Indiana's stunning loss would be part of the climax in the best-selling book A Season On The Brink.
Another story of the tournament was when Navy reached the Elite 8 thanks to stunning performances by David Robinson.