Puneet Varma (Editor)

1996 NCAA Division I Men's Basketball Tournament

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MOP  Tony Delk Kentucky
Teams  64
Finals site  Izod Center
Dates  14 Mar 1996 – 1 Apr 1996
Attendance  631,834
1996 NCAA Division I Men's Basketball Tournament httpsiytimgcomvirv8AzsIWbaghqdefaultjpg
Champions  Kentucky (6th title, 8th title game, 11th Final Four)
Runner-up  Syracuse (2nd title game, 3rd Final Four)
Semifinalists  Mississippi State (1st Final Four) Massachusetts (Vacated) (1st Final Four)
Winning coach  Rick Pitino (1st title)
Top scorer  John Wallace Syracuse (131 points)
Champion  Kentucky Wildcats men's basketball
Similar  1997 NCAA Division I, 1995 NCAA Division I, 1998 NCAA Division I, 1999 NCAA Division I, 2001 NCAA Division I

The 1996 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, 1996, and ended with the championship game on April 1 at Continental Airlines Arena (now known as Izod Center) in the Meadowlands Sports Complex in East Rutherford, New Jersey. A total of 63 games were played.


The Final Four venue was notable for several reasons:

  • This marked the first time that the NCAA finals had been held in Greater New York since 1950.
  • This was also the last (men's) Final Four to be held in a basketball/hockey-specific facility. Every Final Four since has been held in a domed stadium (usually built for football) because of NCAA venue capacity requirements. Therefore, this was also the last time the NCAA finals have been held in the Greater New York area and the Northeastern United States (for the time being).
  • The Final Four consisted of Kentucky, making their first appearance in the Final Four since 1993 and eleventh overall, Massachusetts, making their first ever appearance in the Final Four, Syracuse, making their third appearance in the Final Four and first since 1987, and Mississippi State, also making their first appearance.

    Kentucky won their sixth national championship by defeating Syracuse in the final game 76-67.

    Tony Delk of Kentucky was named the tournament's Most Outstanding Player. Kentucky's run to the championship was one of the most dominant in NCAA tournament history, as the Wildcats won each of their first four games by at least 20 points and won every game by at least 7 points.

    The committee that put together the bracket in 1996 was criticized for placing what seemed to be the best two teams in college basketball – Massachusetts and Kentucky – on the same side of the bracket so that they faced each other in the national semifinal – not the final game itself. Note that there are guidelines that the selection committee follows. In 2004 the procedure would be changed so that the regional sites would first be assigned their #1 seeds, then would be placed in the bracket so that the #1 overall seed would face the fourth #1 seed while the second #1 seed would face the third #1 seed, barring any upsets. However, it must also be noted that Connecticut was the presumed #1 overall seed that season, after compiling a 30-2 record during the season in a strong Big East Conference, including a conference tournament victory. Meanwhile, Kentucky was apparently dropped to the #3 overall seed following their defeat to Mississippi State in the SEC conference tournament final. Kentucky also could not be placed in the Southeast region since the Sweet 16 and Elite 8 games were being played in Kentucky's home arena, Rupp Arena.

    Connecticut, coached by Jim Calhoun and Massachusetts, coached by John Calipari, were later stripped of their wins, including the UMass Minutemen's Final Four appearance, by the NCAA because players (including UMass star Marcus Camby) had accepted illegal gifts from agents.

    First and second rounds

    March 14 and 16
    Providence Civic Center, Providence, Rhode Island RCA Dome, Indianapolis Reunion Arena, Dallas University Arena, Albuquerque, New Mexico
    March 15 and 17
    Arizona State University Activity Center, Tempe, Arizona Bradley Center, Milwaukee Orlando Arena, Orlando, Florida Richmond Coliseum, Richmond, Virginia


    March 21 and 23
    East Regional, Georgia Dome, Atlanta Midwest Regional, Hubert H. Humphrey Metrodome, Minneapolis
    March 22 and 24
    Southeast Regional, Rupp Arena, Lexington, Kentucky West Regional, McNichols Sports Arena, Denver, Colorado

    Final Four

    March 30 and April 1
    Continental Airlines Arena, East Rutherford, New Jersey


    (* – Denotes overtime)


  • Jim Nantz/Bob Rathburn and Billy Packer – First & Second Round at Milwaukee, Wisconsin; Southeast Regional at Lexington, Kentucky; Final Four at East Rutherford, New Jersey
  • Sean McDonough and Bill Raftery – First & Second Round at Orlando, Florida; Midwest Regional at Minneapolis
  • Tim Ryan and Al McGuire – First & Second Round at Providence, RD; West Regional at Denver, Colorado
  • Gus Johnson and Quinn Buckner – First & Second Round at Indianapolis; East Regional at Atlanta, Georgia
  • Mike Gorman and George Raveling – First & Second Round at Dallas, Texas
  • Ted Robinson and Larry Farmer – First & Second Round at Richmond, Virginia
  • Tim Brando and Derrek Dickey – First & Second Round at Albuquerque, New Mexico
  • Bill Macatee and Dan Bonner – First & Second Round at Tempe, Arizona
  • References

    1996 NCAA Division I Men's Basketball Tournament Wikipedia