Samiksha Jaiswal (Editor)

1991 NCAA Division I Men's Basketball Tournament

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Dates  14 Mar 1991 – 1 Apr 1991
Attendance  665,707
Teams  64
Finals site  RCA Dome
1991 NCAA Division I Men's Basketball Tournament
Champions  Duke (1st title, 5th title game, 9th Final Four)
Runner-up  Kansas (6th title game, 9th Final Four)
Semifinalists  North Carolina (10th Final Four) UNLV (4th Final Four)
Winning coach  Mike Krzyzewski (1st title)
MOP  Christian Laettner Duke
Top scorer  Christian Laettner Duke (125 points)
Champion  Duke Blue Devils men's basketball
Similar  1992 NCAA Division I, 1990 NCAA Division I, 1995 NCAA Division I, 1997 NCAA Division I, 1985 NCAA Division I

The 1991 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 14, 1991, and ended with the championship game on April 1 in Indianapolis, Indiana. A total of 63 games were played.


Duke, coached by Mike Krzyzewski, won a rematch of the previous year's national final matchup against undefeated UNLV 79–77 in the semifinal, then won the national title with a 72–65 victory in the final game over Kansas, coached by Roy Williams. This was the first National Championship game for Williams as a head coach. Kansas defeated Williams' mentor Dean Smith and North Carolina (where Williams now coaches) in the semifinal. Kansas made its second trip to the National Championship game in four season, the prior appearance being 1988 when they defeated Oklahoma. Christian Laettner of Duke was named the tournament's Most Outstanding Player.

This tournament adopted the NBA's 10ths-second timer during the final minute of each period in all arenas.

First and Second Rounds

  • Atlanta (Omni Coliseum)
  • College Park, Maryland (Cole Field House)
  • Dayton, Ohio (University of Dayton Arena)
  • Louisville, Kentucky (Freedom Hall)
  • Minneapolis, Minnesota (Hubert H. Humphrey Metrodome)
  • Salt Lake City, Utah (Jon M. Huntsman Center)
  • Syracuse, New York (Carrier Dome)
  • Tucson, Arizona (McKale Center)
  • Broadcast information

    For the first time, CBS Sports showed all 63 tournament games. In the first three rounds, games were shown on a regional basis, except for one game each on Saturday and Sunday in the second round. Usual start times were noon and 7:30 or 8 p.m. Eastern time on each of the Thursdays and Fridays. During the weekend of the second round, the national telecast began at noon, with the regional windows (three on Saturday, two on Sunday) following. Although the times would be adjusted, the same basic format was in place until 2010. As of 2011, the regional broadcasts have been replaced by simulcast feeds on non-broadcast networks owned by Turner Sports.


  • Jim Nantz and Billy Packer – Midwest Regional at Pontiac, Michigan; Final Four at Indianapolis
  • Dick Stockton and Billy Cunningham – First and Second Rounds at Minneapolis, Minnesota; West Regional at Seattle
  • James Brown and Bill Raftery – First and Second Rounds at Dayton, Ohio; East Regional at East Rutherford, New Jersey
  • Verne Lundquist and Len Elmore – First and Second Rounds at College Park, Maryland; Southeast Regional at Charlotte, North Carolina
  • Greg Gumbel and Quinn Buckner – First and Second Rounds at Tucson, Arizona
  • Brad Nessler and Mimi Griffin – First and Second Rounds at Atlanta
  • Tim Ryan and Dan Bonner – First and Second Rounds at Syracuse, New York
  • Sean McDonough and Bill Walton – First and Second Rounds at Louisville, Kentucky
  • Mel Proctor and Jack Givens – First and Second Rounds at Salt Lake City
  • Miscellaneous

  • Duke's 79-77 win over UNLV in the Final Four became one of the biggest upsets in tournament history. Duke was an 8-point underdog in the game. UNLV's juggernaut 1990–91 squad ranked #2 on ESPN Classic's Who's #1? for Best Teams Not To Win a Title. UNLV was undefeated entering the 1991 tournament, which was unmatched until Wichita State in 2014 and Kentucky in 2015. (St. Joseph's went unbeaten in the 2004 regular season, finishing 27-0, but lost in their conference tournament before the NCAAs. Alcorn State went unbeaten in the 1979 regular season, but got invited to the NIT and lost to eventual winner Indiana in the 2nd round. Indiana is the last team to win the championship undefeated in 1976).
  • This was Duke's fourth consecutive Final Four trip, the first team to achieve such a feat since UCLA. Since freshmen were not eligible at the time of UCLA's run, Duke's Greg Koubek became the first player to play in four Final Fours, a record matched by Duke teammates Christian Laettner and Brian Davis the next year when the team repeated as national champions.
  • For the first time in tournament history a 15-seed defeated a 2-seed. Richmond defeated Syracuse 73-69. Since then this has happened seven additional times: in 1993, Santa Clara defeated Arizona 64-61; in 1997, Coppin State defeated South Carolina 78-65; in 2001, Hampton defeated Iowa State 58-57, on the same day in 2012 Norfolk State defeated Missouri 86-84 and Lehigh defeated Duke 75-70, in 2013 Florida Gulf Coast defeated Georgetown 78-68, and in 2016, Middle Tennessee defeated Michigan State 90-81.
  • In the Final Four against Kansas, legendary North Carolina coach Dean Smith was ejected from the game for leaving the coach's box.
  • For bracketologists, this tournament is notable for several reasons. The first is the upset-heavy opening round, which led to every seed number except 16 being represented by at least one team in the second round. The East region, in particular, featured first round victories by seeds 9, 10, 12, 13, and 15. Two 11's and a 14-seed advanced in the other regions. The second round is equally remarkable because there were no upsets in this round whatsoever. The combination of these two anomalies led to an unprecedented occurrence in which a 10 (Temple), an 11 (Connecticut), and a 12-seed (Eastern Michigan) advanced to the Sweet Sixteen without any of the teams pulling off consecutive upsets. The reason for this was that the first round successes of 15-seed Richmond, 14-seed Xavier, and 13-seed Penn State led to Temple, Connecticut, and Eastern Michigan (respectively) being considered favorites for their second round matchups.
  • This was the first NCAA Tournament to feature all four North Carolina-based Atlantic Coast Conference teams: North Carolina, North Carolina State, Duke, and Wake Forest.
  • The Final Four was the first to include both halves of the North Carolina-Duke rivalry. Had both teams won, they would have faced each other for the national championship, but to this day, the teams have only faced each other once in the NCAA Tournament or NIT – the 1971 NIT semifinals at Madison Square Garden, which North Carolina won 73-67.
  • This tournament featured three play-in games before the tournament field was announced, featuring the champions of the six conferences with the lowest computer ratings the previous season. The results were: Saint Francis, Pennsylvania (NEC) defeated Fordham (Patriot) 70-64, Coastal Carolina (Big South) over Jackson State (SWAC) 78-59, and NE Louisiana (Southland) over Florida A&M (MEAC) 87-63. These are not opening round games and the losers are not credited with a NCAA tournament appearance.
  • References

    1991 NCAA Division I Men's Basketball Tournament Wikipedia