1978–79 Michigan State Spartans men's basketball team

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1978–79 Michigan State Spartans men's basketball
Michigan State Spartans logo.svg
Big Ten Regular Season Champions
Conference Big Ten Conference
Ranking
Coaches #4
AP #3
1978–79 record 26-6 (13-5 Big Ten)
Head coach Jud Heathcote
Assistant coach Bill Berry
Assistant coach Fred Paulsen
Assistant coach Dave Harshman
Home arena Jenison Fieldhouse
Seasons
« 1977–78 1979–80 »
1978–79 Big Ten Conference men's basketball standings
Conf     Overall
Team W   L   PCT     W   L   PCT
#3 Michigan State 13 5   .722     26 6   .813
#15 Purdue 13 5   .722     27 8   .771
#20 Iowa 13 5   .722     20 8   .714
Ohio State 12 6   .667     19 12   .613
Indiana 10 8   .556     22 12   .647
Michigan 8 10   .444     15 12   .556
Illinois 7 11   .389     19 11   .633
Wisconsin 6 12   .333     12 15   .444
Minnesota 6 12   .333     11 16   .407
Northwestern 2 16   .111     6 21   .222
Rankings from AP Poll)

The 1978–1979 Michigan State Spartans men's basketball team represented Michigan State University in the 1978–79 NCAA Division I men's basketball season.

Season Summary[edit]

In mid-January, the Spartans were 4–4 in the Big Ten Conference and trailed first place Ohio State (8–0) by four games in the standings. However, Michigan State then won 10 games in a row and tied for the Big Ten championship with Iowa and Purdue. Michigan State won the NCAA Tournament berth because of a better head-to-head performance against Big Ten rivals and a superior overall record (21–6).[1]

As great as Indiana State’s Larry Bird was, he met his match in Magic Johnson, the Michigan State sophomore point guard who led the Spartans to the national championship. Johnson was a unique player who made his teammates better, and along with Bird, he helped revolutionize the game. Their rivalry started in college and continued into the NBA, helping basketball reach new levels of popularity all along the way.

Regular season[edit]

During the 1978–79 season, Michigan State again qualified for the NCAA Tournament.

NCAA basketball tournament[edit]

Michigan State advanced to the championship game and faced the Indiana State Sycamores, which was led by senior Larry Bird. In what was the most-watched college basketball game ever,[2] Michigan State defeated Indiana State 75–64, and Johnson was voted Most Outstanding Player of the Final Four. After two years in college, in which he averaged 17.1 points, 7.6 rebounds, and 7.9 assists per game, Johnson declared himself eligible for the 1979 NBA Draft.[3]

  • Mideast
    • Michigan State (#2 seed) 95, Lamar 64
    • Michigan State 87, Louisiana State (#3 seed) 71
    • Michigan State 80, Notre Dame (#1 seed) 68

[4]

  • Final Four
    • Michigan State 101, Pennsylvania 67
    • Michigan State 75, Indiana State 64

[4]

Awards and honors[edit]

Team players drafted into the NBA[edit]

Year Round Pick Player NBA Team
1979 1 1 Magic Johnson Los Angeles Lakers
1979 1 4 Greg Kelser Detroit Pistons
1980 4 74 Ron Charles Chicago Bulls
1981 2 24 Jay Vincent Dallas Mavericks
1981 8 181 Mike Brkovich Milwaukee Bucks

[5] [6] [7]

After college[edit]

A list of each player's occupation a decade after the championship follows:[1]

Player Position Occupation
Jud Heathcote Head coach Head coach at Michigan State
Don Brkovich F Security systems salesman
Mike Brkovich F Car salesman
Ron Charles C–F Pro basketball – France
Terry Donnelly G Stockbroker
Gerald Gilkie F Guidance counselor
Rob Gonzales F Could not be determined
Jaimie Huffman G Computerized collection service
Magic Johnson G NBA – Los Angeles Lakers
Rick Kaye F Could not be determined
Greg Kelser F Broadcaster – former NBA player
Greg Lloyd G Could not be determined
Mike Longaker G Surgeon – cardiology research
Darwin Payton Mgr. Manager – athletic shoe store
Jay Vincent C NBA – San Antonio Spurs

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b Halls, Bill (March 21, 1989). "Magic Moment: Ten years later, Johnson vs. Bird still special". The Detroit News. p. 1E, 7E. 
  2. ^ Katz, Andy. "From coast to coast, a magical pair". ESPN. Retrieved 2008-05-06. 
  3. ^ "Magic Johnson Statistics". Sports Reference LLC. Archived from the original on 12 September 2007. Retrieved 2007-09-13. 
  4. ^ a b http://www.databasesports.com/ncaab/tourney.htm?yr=1979
  5. ^ http://www.databasebasketball.com/draft/draftyear.htm?yr=1979&lg=N
  6. ^ http://www.basketball-reference.com/draft/NBA_1980.html
  7. ^ http://www.basketball-reference.com/draft/NBA_1981.html