LOUISVILLE, Ky. — The University of Louisville will honor its 1980 NCAA Championship team on the 40th anniversary year of their national title at halftime of the Cardinals’ Feb. 8 game against Virginia in the KFC Yum! Center.
The 1979-80 Cardinals, who posted a 33-3 overall record, were guided by future Hall of Fame Coach Denny Crum and led by national player of the year Darrell Griffith, who averaged 22.9 points, 4.8 rebounds and 3.8 assists for the season. Four players who scored over 1,000 career points at UofL were members of that team, including Griffith (2,333 points), UofL’s all-time leading scorer, the late Derek Smith (1,826), Jerry Eaves (1,250) and Rodney McCray (1,247).
Louisville, which entered the NCAA Tournament in 1980 as the nation’s No. 2 ranked team in the AP poll, beat Iowa 80-72 in the national semifinals (3-22-80) in Indianapolis, Ind. at now-demolished Market Square Arena. Griffith led UofL with 34 points, six assists and three steals against the Hawkeyes. The Cardinals defeated UCLA 59-54 in the title game as Griffith scored 23 points and was named the Final Four Most Outstanding Player.
All members of the 1980 team are expected to be present for the event except Eaves and Wiley Brown, who are currently head coaches at Simmons College and IU Southeast, respectively, and their teams have games on Saturday; and Smith, who passed away on Aug. 9, 1996.
Louisville was arguably the most dominant team in college basketball during the decade of the 1980s. During the decade of the 1980s, the Cardinals won two national championships (equaled only by Indiana); sent an unmatched four teams to the Final Four (1980, 1982, 1983, 1986); reached the NCAA Sweet 16 teams seven times (bettered only by North Carolina’s nine times); and posted the highest NCAA Tournament winning percentage in the nation (.793, 23-6).
Winners of nine straight games, No. 5 Louisville (20-3, 11-1 ACC) plays its second straight at home in the KFC Yum! Center as the ACC-leading Cardinals face the Virginia Cavaliers (15-6, 7-4 ACC) on Saturday (Feb. 8, 4:02 p.m. ET, TV: ESPN, Radio: WKRD 790 AM).