The 2001 NCAA Men's Division I Basketball Tournament involved 65 schools playing in single-elimination play to determine the national champion of men's NCAADivision Icollege basketball. It began on March 13, 2001 with the play-in game, and ended with the championship game on April 2 in Minneapolis, Minnesota. A total of 64 games were played.
This tournament is the first to feature 65 teams, due to the Mountain West Conference receiving an automatic bid for the first time. This meant that 31 conferences would have automatic bids to the tournament. The NCAA decided to maintain 34 at-large bids, which necessitated a play-in game between the #64 and #65 ranked teams, with the winner playing against a #1 seed in the first round. (Another option would have been to reduce the number of at-large bids to 33, which was the option chosen for the women's tournament.) This is also the first tournament to have been broadcast in high-definition, being broadcast on CBS.
Duke, coached by Mike Krzyzewski, won the national title with a 82-72 victory in the final game over Arizona, coached by Lute Olson. Shane Battier of Duke was named the tournament's Most Outstanding Player.
The fourth meeting of the year between ACC teams Duke and Maryland turned into a classic. Maryland jumped out of the gate to an early 39-17 lead. It appeared the Terps would eliminate Duke, led by senior Shane Battier. However, Duke was able to cut the lead at halftime to 49-38. Duke would take its first lead when Jason Williams drained a three to give Duke the lead 73-72 with 6:48 to play. Duke closed the game with a 23–12 run to stun Gary Williams' Maryland squad.
Arizona (M2) 80, Michigan State (S1) 61
In an emotional season in which coach Lute Olson suffered the loss of his wife, he would be just 40 minutes away from a second National Championship after his Wildcats destroyed the defending national champion Michigan State Spartans. The game was close at halftime with Arizona leading by just 2. However, Arizona outscored Michigan State 48–31 in the second half en route to the 19-point victory.
The second-ranked team coming into the NCAA Tournament would leave giving coach Mike Krzyzewski his third National Championship at Duke University. Arizona cut Duke's lead to 39-37 early in the second half, but Mike Dunleavy Jr. connected on three three-pointers during an 11–2 Duke run. Dunleavy Jr. led the Duke Blue Devils with 21 points, including 18 points in the 2nd half. The Arizona Wildcats did not quit as they would get within 3 four times, including twice inside the four-minute TV timeout. However, Shane Battier proved to be too much as he hit two critical buckets to keep the Blue Devils comfortably ahead. Then, Jason Williams, despite a poor shooting night, iced the game with a three-pointer from the top of the key with about 2 minutes left to give Duke an eight-point lead. Battier scored 18 points and added 11 rebounds and was named the tournament's Most Outstanding Player (MOP).
This tournament featured many upsets in the first two rounds, with two #13 seeds and two #12 seeds winning in the first. The best remembered and most unexpected occurred when Hampton beat Iowa State 58-57 in the first round. They were down by as much as 11 in the game. Tarvis Williams made the winning shot with 6.9 seconds left. The video of Hampton coach Steve Merfield being lifted in the air by player David Johnson during the celebration has become a classic clip, often played by CBS and ESPN to showcase the excitement of the underdog in the NCAA Tournament.
They became only the fourth #15 seed to win a game since the tournament expanded to 64 teams in 1985 and the first since 1997. The went on to lose to Georgetown in the second round, failing to become the first seed that low to make the Round of 16.