clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

YouTube Gold: Indiana State vs. DePaul, 1979

As Larry Bird goes national for the first time

Indiana State Larry Bird, 1979 NCAA Midwest Regional Playoffs
UNITED STATES - MARCH 15: College Basketball: NCAA Playoffs, Indiana State Larry Bird (33) in action, taking foul shot vs Oklahoma, Cincinnati, OH 3/15/1979
SetNumber: X23242

In 1979, the Final Four was pretty remarkable: Penn made it, which we’re pretty sure is the last time an Ivy got there. DePaul got Ray Meyer there and of course Larry Bird and Magic Johnson played in the iconic finale that marked the official beginning of their rivalry.

Penn and Michigan State played in one semi while Bird and Indiana State took on DePaul in the other (this was back when the Midwest and the Final Four were still said in the same sentence).

Amazingly, Ray Meyer got to the Final Four in 1942-43, his first season, but didn't get back for 36 years. Imagine what that must have been like for him, to get there so quickly and wait for so long to get back. How could it possibly take you until the age of 66 to do that twice?

And then the Basketball Gods curse you by sending not one but two of the greatest, most transformative players in the history of the game between you and the title.

Meyers coached against only one.

The ISU-DePaul game was really good and, not surprisingly, so was Bird.

He scored 35 points on 16-19, had 16 boards and barely missed a triple-double with nine assists (actually it would have been a quadruple-double since he had 11 turnovers too).

He burst on the scene out of nowhere and this was the first time most of the country had seen him play. ESPN debuted in 1979 and soon you could watch hoops until your eyes bled. But in 1979, that was still a dream.

Indiana State won 76-74 and went on to play the Spartans and Magic Johnson in the legendary 1979 championship game. That rivalry would define the game for years to come.

One small note: check out DePaul’s jerseys. Styles have changed of course, and for DePaul, that’s a really good thing.