The 1999 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 Icollege basketball. It began on March 11, 1999, and ended with the championship game on March 29 at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, Florida. A total of 63 games were played. This year’s Final Four was the first—and so far, only—to be held in a baseball-specific facility, as Tropicana Field is home to the Tampa Bay Rays (then known as the Devil Rays).
The Final Four consisted of Connecticut, making their first ever Final Four appearance; Ohio State, making their ninth Final Four appearance and first since 1968; Michigan State, making their third Final Four appearance and first since their 1979 national championship; and Duke, the overall number one seed and making their first Final Four appearance since losing the national championship game in 1994.
In the national championship game, Connecticut defeated Duke 77–74 to win their first ever national championship, snapping Duke’s 32-game winning streak, and scoring the biggest point-spread upset in Championship Game history. Duke nonetheless tied the record for most games won during a single season, with 37, which they co-held until Kentucky’s 38-win seasons in 2011–12 and 2014–15. The 2007–08 Memphis team actually broke this record first, but the team was later forced to forfeit their entire season due to eligibility issues surrounding the team.
Richard “Rip” Hamilton of Connecticut was named the tournament’s Most Outstanding Player. This was a significant victory for the program, as it cemented Connecticut’s reputation as a true basketball power after a decade of barely missing the Final Four.
This tournament is also historically notable as the coming-out party for Gonzaga as a rising mid-major power. Gonzaga has made every NCAA tournament since then, and is now generally considered to be a high-major program despite its mid-major conference affiliation.
Due to violations committed by Ohio State head coach Jim O’Brien, the Buckeyes were forced to vacate their appearance in the 1999 Final Four.
The following are the sites that were selected to host each round of the 1999 tournament:
First and Second Rounds
- March 11 and 13
- South Region
- West Region
- March 12 and 14
- East Region
- Midwest Region
Regional Semifinals and Finals (Sweet Sixteen and Elite Eight)
- March 18 and 20
- March 19 and 21
National Semifinals and Championship (Final Four and Championship)
St. Petersburg became the 27th host city, and Tropicana Field the 32nd host venue, for the Final Four. Tropicana Field, the home of baseball’s Tampa Bay Rays, was the sixth different domed stadium to host a Final Four, and the only one designed specifically for baseball; given its inability to be converted to a center court arena, it is unlikely to host one again. There were four new venues in the 1999 tournament, two in completely new host cities for the tournament. For the first time, the tournament came to Boston at the FleetCenter, which had replaced the Boston Garden in 1995. Despite the original Garden’s rich college and NBA history, it never had hosted any NCAA tournament games. The tournament also came to downtown Phoenix for the first time, at the NBA home of the Phoenix Suns. Previous games in the metropolitan area were played in suburban Tempe at Arizona State University. For the second straight year, the Midwest Regional games were held in a new venue in St. Louis, this time at the Trans World Dome, then home to the NFL’s St. Louis Rams. The tournament also returned to Seattle, this time at KeyArena, the downtown home to the Seattle SuperSonics. This tournament would be the last held at McNichols Sports Arena, which was scheduled to close later in the year and is now the site of parking for Empower Field at Mile High; subsequent games in Denver have moved to the Ball Arena. It is also the last tournament to date to include Tropicana Field and Thompson–Boling Arena, as neither has hosted since. Any future tournament games to be held in Tampa would be played at the Amalie Arena.