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2000 NCAA Men's Division I Basketball Tournament
United States top collegiate-level basketball tournament for 2000
Due to a string of upsets throughout the tournament, only one top-four seed advanced to the Final Four. That was Michigan State, who finished the season as the #2 team in the nation and was given the top seed in the Midwest Region. The highest seeded of the other three Final Four teams was Florida, who won the East Region as the fifth seed. Two eight-seeds made the Final Four, with Wisconsin and North Carolina rounding the bracket out. Wisconsin won the West Region while North Carolina won the South Region, with both regions seeing their top three seeds eliminated during the first weekend of play.
Despite the string of upsets, no seed lower than 11 won a game in the tournament. The only 11 seed to win was Pepperdine, which defeated Indiana in the East Region's first round in what turned out to be Bob Knight's last game coaching the Hoosiers before his firing that offseason. Also, two teams that qualified as 10 seeds advanced to the Sweet Sixteen as Seton Hall in the East and Gonzaga in the West both advanced.
Because of the upsets, the Elite Eight consisted of one top seed (Michigan State), one second seed (Iowa State), one third seed (Oklahoma State), one fifth seed (Florida), one sixth seed (Purdue), one seventh seed (Tulsa), and two eighth seeds (Wisconsin and North Carolina). This is the most recent title won by the Big Ten Conference.
For the third time in a decade, and fourth time overall, Indianapolis was the host city of the Final Four. The tournament saw one new host city and three new host venues included for the first time. The tournament came to Cleveland for the first time ever, hosted on the campus of Cleveland State University. This marked the first new host venue on a college campus since the first appearance of Thompson-Boling Arena in 1990, and the first host city to debut on a college campus since Boise in 1983. The tournament returned to Nashville at the then-four-year-old Gaylord Entertainment Center downtown, with previous tournaments having been hosted in Memorial Gym on the campus of Vanderbilt University. And for the first time since 1954, the tournament returned to Buffalo, at the HSBC Arena (now KeyBank Center). The first round tournament games coincided with the date of the arena's name change; previously it had been known as Marine Midland Arena. For the fifth, and as of 2018[update] most recent, time, both the Huntsman Center and McKale Center were chosen as the two first and second round hosts of the West regionals. All 13 venues have gone on to host more tournament games since this season. Any future tournament games to be held in Cleveland would be played at Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse; if in Salt Lake City, Vivint Smart Home Arena.
In the first half it appeared that the Cinderella run of the Wisconsin Badgers had a great chance of continuing. Wisconsin's slow down offense, smothering defense tempo held the game to a Michigan State Spartans 19-17 lead. However, the only number one seed left in the tournament opened the second half with a 13-2 run, including 10 points from senior Morris Peterson. After the run, Michigan State coasted home against Wisconsin's limited offense.
Despite being behind 18-3 to start the game and trailing at halftime, the North Carolina Tar Heels took control of the early minutes of the second half, and managed to sneak ahead 48-42 on standout freshman guard Joseph Forte's second consecutive three-pointer with 15:44 to play. However, the Florida Gators answered back with a 9-0 run to give them the lead for good. The Gators held the Tar Heels to just six points over a 9 minute span to put them in great shape. Foul trouble ultimately doomed the Tar Heels, and the Gators advanced to their first ever National Championship game.
April 3, 2000
Michigan State (M1) 89, Florida (E5) 76
Michigan State senior Mateen Cleaves limped his way to the Most Outstanding Player (MOP) of the 2000 NCAA Tournament. Cleaves sprained his ankle with 16:18 to play in the 2nd half, and this was after Florida had trimmed Michigan State's double digit halftime lead to 50-44. Cleaves returned about four minutes later, and immediately helped lead the Spartans on a 16-6 run to put the game out of reach. The lone top-seed remaining would bring order to a tournament filled with upsets as they salted away the victory for the school's second National Championship (1979). Michigan State coach Tom Izzo earned his first title, from his second straight final four appearance. Morris Peterson led the Spartans with 21 points.