For all the excitement generated by the NCAA men's basketball tournament, it rarely comes through with a dream match-up in the final. Since the NCAA began seeding teams in 1979, there have only been three occasions when teams seeded No. 1, such as this year's finalists Illinois and North Carolina, have met in the championship game:
* 1982: North Carolina 63, Georgetown 62 -- In one of the greatest title games of all time, James Worthy scored 28 points for North Carolina, freshman Patrick Ewing had 23 points and 11 rebounds for Georgetown, and another freshman, Michael Jordan, made the game-winning shot in the final seconds. Close calls: North Carolina beat James Madison, 52-50, in the second round. Georgetown edged Louisville, 50-46, in the semifinals.
* 1993: North Carolina 77, Michigan 71 -- Chris Webber scored 23 points, but is better remembered for calling a timeout that Michigan didn't have in the final minute, resulting in a technical foul that allowed North Carolina to hold on. Close calls: North Carolina needed overtime to hold off Cincinnati, 75-68, in the regional final. Michigan had to go to overtime twice, in an 86-84 second-round victory over UCLA and an 81-78 decision over Kentucky in the national semifinals.
* 1999: Connecticut 77, Duke 74 -- Richard Hamilton's 27 points led the Huskies over Duke, which had future NBA players Elton Brand, Shane Battier and Corey Maggette. Close calls: Duke won its national semifinal over Michigan State, 68-62. Gonzaga pushed Connecticut in the regional final before falling, 67-62.
PITINO IN FINAL FOURS
Rick Pitino is the first coach to reach the Final Four with three different schools. How his teams have fared:
* Providence (1987) -- lost to Syracuse, 77-63, in the semifinals.
* Kentucky (1993) -- lost to Michigan, 81-78, in overtime in the semifinals.
* Kentucky (1996) -- beat Massachusetts, 81-74, in semifinals; beat Syracuse, 76-67, for the championship.
* Kentucky (1997) -- beat Minnesota, 78-69, in the semifinals; lost to Arizona, 84-79, in overtime for the championship.
* Louisville (2005) -- lost to Illinois, 72-57, in the semifinals.
Previous games between Monday's finalists (North Carolina leads series, 3-2):
* Dec. 20, 1951 at Champaign, Ill. -- Illinois 86, North Carolina 66
* Dec. 20, 1986 at Chapel Hill, N.C. -- North Carolina 90, Illinois 77
* Dec. 19, 1987 at Champaign, Ill. -- North Carolina 85, Illinois 74
* Dec. 3, 2002 at Champaign, Ill. -- Illinois 92, North Carolina 65
* Dec. 2, 2003 at Greensboro, N.C. -- North Carolina 88, Illinois 81