1980-81 NCAA Division I Men's Basketball Season
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1980%E2%80%9381 NCAA Division I Men's Basketball Season

The 1980-81 NCAA Division I men's basketball season began on November 28, 1980, progressed through the regular season and conference tournaments, and concluded with the 1981 NCAA Men's Division I Basketball Tournament Championship Game on March 30, 1981, at The Spectrum in Philadelphia. The Indiana Hoosiers won their fourth NCAA national championship with a 63-50 victory over the North Carolina Tar Heels.

Rule Changes

  • On free throw attempts, players can now enter the free-throw lane after the foul shooter releases the ball. Previously, players had to wait until the ball touched either the rim or backboard before entering the lane.
  • The time allotted to replace a disqualified (fouled out) player was reduced from 60 to 30 seconds.
  • Starting in the 1981-82 season, the national third-place game was abolished.
  • Conferences were allowed to experiment with the three-point shot in conference games only. The Southern Conference was the first to use the shot in their conference games, adopting a distance of 22 feet.

Season headlines

Season outlook

Pre-season polls

The top 20 from the AP and UPI polls during the pre-season.[5]

Regular season

Conference winners and tournaments

Conference Regular
Season Winner[6]
Player of the Year
Venue (City)
Atlantic Coast Conference Virginia Ralph Sampson, Virginia[7] 1981 ACC Men's Basketball Tournament Capital Centre
(Landover, Maryland)
North Carolina
Big East Conference Boston College John Bagley, Boston College[8] 1981 Big East Men's Basketball Tournament Carrier Dome
(Syracuse, New York)
Big Eight Conference Missouri Andre Smith, Nebraska[9] 1981 Big Eight Conference Men's Basketball Tournament Kemper Arena
(Kansas City, Missouri)
(Semifinals and Finals)
Big Sky Conference Idaho Brian Kellerman, Idaho[10] 1981 Big Sky Conference Men's Basketball Tournament Kibbie Dome
(Moscow, Idaho)
Big Ten Conference Indiana None Selected No Tournament
East Coast Conference American (East)
Lafayette & Rider (West)
Len Hatzenbeller, Drexel 1981 East Coast Conference Men's Basketball Tournament The Palestra
St. Joseph's
Eastern Athletic Association (Eastern 8) Duquesne & Rhode Island Earl Belcher, St. Bonaventure[11] 1981 Eastern 8 Men's Basketball Tournament Civic Arena
Eastern College Athletic
Conference (ECAC)
Division I ECAC members
played as independents
during the regular season
(see note)
1981 ECAC Metro Region Tournament Nassau Coliseum
(Uniondale, New York)
1981 ECAC South Region Tournament Hampton Coliseum
(Hampton, Virginia)
James Madison
ECAC North Northeastern Mike Ferrara, Colgate[12] 1981 ECAC North Men's Basketball Tournament Cabot Center
Ivy League Princeton Larry Lawrence, Dartmouth[13] No Tournament
Metro Conference Louisville David Burns, Saint Louis & Derek Smith, Louisville 1981 Metro Conference Men's Basketball Tournament Freedom Hall
(Louisville, Kentucky)
Mid-American Conference Ball State, Northern Illinois, Toledo, W. Michigan & Bowling Green Harvey Knuckles, Toledo[14] 1981 MAC Men's Basketball Tournament Crisler Arena
(Ann Arbor, Michigan)
Ball State
Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference North Carolina A&T James Ratiff, Howard 1981 Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference Men's Basketball Tournament Winston-Salem Memorial Coliseum
(Winston-Salem, North Carolina)
Midwestern City Conference Xavier Darius Clemons, Loyola (IL) & Rubin Jackson, Oklahoma City[16] 1981 Midwestern City Conference Men's Basketball Tournament Final at Riverfront Coliseum
Oklahoma City
Missouri Valley Conference Wichita State Lewis Lloyd, Drake[17] 1981 Missouri Valley Conference Men's Basketball Tournament Levitt Arena
(Wichita, Kansas)
Ohio Valley Conference Western Kentucky Jerry Beck, Middle Tennessee St.[18] 1981 Ohio Valley Conference Men's Basketball Tournament E. A. Diddle Arena
(Bowling Green, Kentucky)
Western Kentucky
Pacific-10 Conference Oregon State Steve Johnson, Oregon State[19] No Tournament
Pacific Coast Athletic Association Fresno State Kevin Magee, UC Irvine[20] 1981 Pacific Coast Athletic Association Men's Basketball Tournament Anaheim Convention Center
(Anaheim, California)
Fresno State
Southeastern Conference LSU Dominique Wilkins, Georgia[21] 1981 SEC Men's Basketball Tournament Birmingham Jefferson Convention Complex
(Birmingham, Alabama)
Southern Conference Appalachian State, Davidson & UT-Chattanooga Charles Payton, Appalachian State[22] 1981 Southern Conference Men's Basketball Tournament Roanoke Civic Center
(Roanoke, Virginia)
Southland Conference Lamar Mike Olliver, Lamar[23] 1981 Southland Conference Men's Basketball Tournament McDonald Gym
(Beaumont, Texas) (Semifinals and finals)
Southwest Conference Arkansas Rob Williams, Houston 1981 Southwest Conference Men's Basketball Tournament HemisFair Arena
(San Antonio, Texas)
Southwestern Athletic Conference Alcorn State & Southern-BR Harry Kelly, Texas Southern & Robert Williams, Grambling State[24][25] 1981 SWAC Men's Basketball Tournament LSU Assembly Center
(Baton Rouge, Louisiana)
Sun Belt Conference VCU, South Alabama & UAB Ed Rains, South Alabama[26] 1981 Sun Belt Conference Men's Basketball Tournament Jacksonville Memorial Coliseum
(Jacksonville, Florida)
Trans America Athletic Conference Houston Baptist Benton Wade, Mercer[27] 1981 TAAC Men's Basketball Tournament Hirsch Coliseum
(Shreveport, Louisiana)
West Coast Athletic Conference Pepperdine &
San Francisco
Quintin Dailey, San Francisco[28] No Tournament
Western Athletic Conference Utah & Wyoming Danny Ainge, BYU[29] No Tournament

Note: From 1975 to 1982, the Eastern College Athletic Conference (ECAC), a loosely organized sports federation of Northeastern colleges and universities, organized Division I ECAC regional tournaments for those of its members that were independents in basketball. Each 1981 tournament winner received an automatic bid to the 1981 NCAA Men's Division I Basketball Tournament in the same way that the tournament champions of conventional athletic conferences did. The ECAC North was a separate, conventional conference.[30]

Statistical leaders

Post-Season Tournaments

NCAA Tournament

Indiana won its fourth NCAA title with a 63-50 win over North Carolina and coach Dean Smith. Precocious sophomore Isiah Thomas was named Final Four Most Outstanding Player in a title game delayed due to the shooting of President Ronald Reagan.

Final Four

Played at The Spectrum in Philadelphia

National Semifinals National Finals
E1 Virginia 65
W2 North Carolina 78
W2 North Carolina 50
ME3 Indiana 63
ME3 Indiana 67
MW1 LSU 49
  • Third Place - Virginia 78, LSU 74

National Invitation Tournament

Coach Nolan Richardson led Tulsa to the NIT Championship in his first year as a division I head coach - an 86-84 win over Syracuse. The Golden Hurricane's Greg Stewart was named the tournament's Most Valuable Player.

NIT Semifinals and Final

Played at Madison Square Garden in New York City

Semifinals Finals
  Syracuse 70
  Purdue 63
  Syracuse 84
  Tulsa 86
  West Virginia 87
  Tulsa 89
  • Third Place - Purdue 75, West Virginia 72


Consensus All-American teams

Consensus First Team
Player Position Class Team
Mark Aguirre F Junior DePaul
Danny Ainge G Senior Brigham Young
Steve Johnson C Senior Oregon State
Ralph Sampson C Sophomore Virginia
Isiah Thomas G Sophomore Indiana

Consensus Second Team
Player Position Class Team
Sam Bowie C Sophomore Kentucky
Jeff Lamp F Senior Virginia
Durand Macklin F Senior LSU
Kelly Tripucka F Senior Notre Dame
Danny Vranes F Senior Utah
Al Wood F Senior North Carolina

Major player of the year awards

Major coach of the year awards

Other major awards


  1. ^ "And A Little Child Led Them". Sports Illustrated. 1981-04-06. Retrieved .
  2. ^ What a night to be in Bloomington
  3. ^ "2008 NCAA Men's Basketball Record Book" (PDF). (p. 22). NCAA. Retrieved 2010.
  4. ^ "This Court Transplant Took". Sports Illustrated. 1982-03-01. Retrieved .
  5. ^ *ESPN College Basketball Encyclopedia: The Complete History of the Men's Game. Random House. 2009. ISBN 0-345-51392-4.
  6. ^ "2009 NCAA Men's Basketball Record Book - Conferences Section" (PDF). NCAA. 2009. Retrieved .
  7. ^ 2008-09 ACC Men's Basketball Media Guide - Year by Year section, retrieved 2010-08-06
  8. ^ 2008-09 Big East Men's Basketball Media Guide - Awards section Archived 2009-02-04 at the Wayback Machine, Big East Conference, retrieved 2010-08-06
  9. ^ 2008-09 Big 12 Men's Basketball Media Guide - Awards section, Big 12 Conference, retrieved 2010-08-06
  10. ^ Men's Basketball Award Winners, Big Sky Conference, retrieved 2010-08-06
  11. ^ 2008-09 A-10 men's basketball media guide - Awards section, Atlantic 10 Conference, retrieved 2010-08-06
  12. ^ America East Men's Basketball Players of the Year, America East Conference, retrieved 2010-08-06
  13. ^ Men's Ivy League Outstanding performers Archived 2008-04-29 at the Wayback Machine, Ivy League, retrieved 2010-08-06
  14. ^ 2008-09 MAC Men's BAsketball Media Guide - Records Section, Mid-American Conference, retrieved 2010-08-06
  15. ^ 2008-09 MEAC men's basketball media guide Archived 2012-09-22 at the Wayback Machine, MEAC, retrieved 2010-08-06
  16. ^ 2008-09 Horizon League Men's Basketball Record Book, Horizon League, retrieved 2010-08-06
  17. ^ 2008-09 MVC Men's Basketball Media Guide - Honors Section[permanent dead link], Missouri Valley Conference, retrieved 2010-08-06
  18. ^ 2008-09 OVC men's basketball media guide, Ohio Valley Conference, retrieved 2010-08-06
  19. ^ 2008-09 Pacific-10 Men's Basketball Media Guide- Honors Section, Pacific-10 Conference, retrieved 2010-08-06
  20. ^ 2008-09 Big West Men's Basketball Media Guide Archived 2011-07-16 at the Wayback Machine, Big West Conference, retrieved 2010-08-06
  21. ^ 2008-09 SEC Men's Basketball Record Book, Southeastern Conference, retrieved 2010-08-06
  22. ^ 2008-09 SoCon Men's Basketball Media Guide - Honors Section, Southern Conference, retrieved 2010-08-06
  23. ^ 2008-09 Southland Conference Men's Basketball Media Guide, Southland Conference, retrieved 2010-08-06
  24. ^ "GSU cagers land on all-SWAC team". The Shreveport Times. March 5, 1981. p. 31. Retrieved 2019 – via Newspapers.com.
  25. ^ "GSU honors Williams, Jackson". The Shreveport Times. April 23, 1981. p. 33. Retrieved 2019 – via Newspapers.com.
  26. ^ 2007-08 Sun Belt Men's Basketball Media Guide, Sun Belt Conference, retrieved 2010-08-06
  27. ^ Atlantic Sun men's basketball record book, Atlantic Sun Conference, retrieved 2010-08-06
  28. ^ 2008-09 WCC Men's Basketball Media Guide, West Coast Conference, retrieved 2010-08-06
  29. ^ 2009-10 WAC Men's Basketball Media Guide Archived 2016-03-03 at the Wayback Machine, Western Athletic Conference, retrieved 2010-08-06
  30. ^ Varsity Pride: ECAC Men's Basketball Tournaments

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