Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “When March Went Mad: The Game That Transformed Basketball” as Want to Read:
When March Went Mad: The Game That Transformed Basketball
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

When March Went Mad: The Game That Transformed Basketball

3.96  ·  Rating Details ·  777 Ratings  ·  81 Reviews

âœA must-read for anybody who considers themselves a basketball fan.ââ”Michael Wilbon, The Washington Post

On March 26, 1979, basketball as we know it was born. The NCAA championship game played that day launched an epic rivalry between two exceptional players: Earvin âœMagicâ Johnson and Larry Bird. Though they played each other only once as college athletes, that game t

...more
Paperback, 352 pages
Published February 2nd 2010 by St. Martin's Griffin (first published February 17th 2009)
More Details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about When March Went Mad, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about When March Went Mad

This book is not yet featured on Listopia. Add this book to your favorite list »

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30)
filter  |  sort: default (?)  |  Rating Details
Nicolo Yu
Feb 22, 2016 Nicolo Yu rated it really liked it
Shelves: sports
I started following professional basketball when Michael Jordan was transcending the game with his dominating talent. But he only inherited an NBA already defined by the rivalry of two personalities, Magic and Bird. The games of these two superstars where they go head to head, especially in the NBA Finals are legendary. This started when they both were college basketball stars, in the 1979 NCAA Men’s Basketball Championship game.

The book details the events that lead to the 1979 Final Four and th
...more
Mike Van Campen
This book succeeds and fails at the same time. First, Davis does an exceptional job of recreating the 1979 NCAA Championship game and the build up to that game. The reader really gets a feel for the players and coaches of the two seemingly unlikely teams: the Michigan State University Spartans and the Indiana State University Sycamores. Further, he does an excellent job of highlighting the superstars from that season and that game: Larry Bird and Earvin "Magic" Johnson. As someone whose familiar ...more
Mahlon
Apr 09, 2010 Mahlon rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Basketball Fans
Recommended to Mahlon by: ESPN
Shelves: read-2010

In When March Went Mad, Seth Davis offers a narrative account of the 1979 College Basketball season through the eyes of it's two greatest players, Larry Bird of the Indiana State Sycamores, and Magic Johnson of the Michigan State Spartans, whose teams eventually met in the finals of the NCAA Tournament, with Michigan State winning 75-64. Davis argues that this is the greatest basketball game ever played, both for it's effect on televised college Basketball, and later on the NBA, since both Magic
...more
Jamie
Jul 11, 2009 Jamie rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction, sports
The 1979 NCAA Basketball Championship was arguably the most important event in college basketball history. Its success spurred the growth of ESPN and excited sports fans all over the country (1/4 of the nation's televisions were tuned to the final game). But more than anything, this is a story of two men who captured the nation with their incredible play and became the new face of basketball. Before they were millionaires in the NBA, Magic and Bird were college rivals, with completely different ...more
Rob Warner
Feb 20, 2012 Rob Warner rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I tell people that this game was the first game I ever watched on TV, and as far as I can remember, I'm not lying. I lived in Bloomington, Indiana when this game was played, and was a staunch Larry Bird fan (and continue to root for the Celtics to this day). The rivalry that this game birthed gave hoops fans a decade of basketball bliss.

I didn't learn much more about Bird or Magic from this book, but what little I learned was worth the read. The bigger win was learning more about Heathcote, Hodg
...more
Jake
Oct 27, 2011 Jake rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
One of the best basketball books out there. A small Indiana school led by the Hick from French Lick goes up against a Big Ten powerhouse in the NCAA Finals. Compulsively readable. Or readably compulsive.
Eli
Since this 1978-79 season took place before the advent of extensive TV coverage of NCAA basketball, it was fun reading the "backstory" for the championship matchup everyone remembers. The championship game itself was sort of anticlimactic. Definitely worth a read for college BB fans.
Stacey
Mar 23, 2013 Stacey rated it really liked it
I enjoyed this book and definitely thought it was appropriate to read at this time of year. Since I grew up in Terre Haute and was born right before the 78-79 season, so I had heard some of what was in the book, but still thought it was interesting.
Lexi
Apr 14, 2012 Lexi rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: sports, non-fiction
Really interesting read. It's rare to find a sports book that deals with such a familiar topic and yet provides so much new information. (Or at least new for me.)
Todd Stockslager
Jun 08, 2015 Todd Stockslager rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: history
For folks of a certain age, 1979 wasn't that long ago, but it is hard to fathom how much the entertainment and sports world has changed since March went Mad. Seth Davis's new book covers the 1979 NCAA championship basketball game between Michigan State and Indiana State that introduced the world to Magic Johnson and Larry Bird, and the madness that became March.

Part of the magic of that year was that, before the days 24-hour coverage of nearly every college basketball game on some regional or na
...more
Rama
Feb 20, 2014 Rama rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: sports
Principles of Marketing NCAA Basketball

This book is not so much about the two legends of NCAA Basketball, Larry Bird and Magic Johnson, but it is about the way NCAA basketball turned into big time sports. March Madness, Bracket games, Sweet Sixteen, Final Four, and NCAA championship games may be competitive sports for many schools and its fans across the nation, but it is also a lucrative money making machine for television and media. Bracket-games betting during March have become a major tradit
...more
Timmy Rattanaphone
Seth Davis' purpose in writing his book, "When March Went Mad", is to inform the audience about how this very basketball game in 1979 transformed all of basketball forever. He wants to make sure that the reader understands that college basketball is the multibillion-dollar sport it is today because of this game. Before this game, there were not many college basketball games that were televised like they are today. This championship game transformed the once glanced over NCAA tournament into a mu ...more
Justin Kerekes
Jan 23, 2013 Justin Kerekes rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: All Basketball Fans
Recommended to Justin by: Goodreads
Seth Davis' purpose in writing his book, "When March Went Mad", is to inform the audience about how this very basketball game in 1979 transformed all of basketball forever. He wants to make sure that the reader understands that college basketball is the multibillion-dollar sport it is today because of this game. Before this game, there were not many college basketball games that were televised like they are today. This championship game transformed the once glanced over NCAA tournament into a m ...more
Bruce
Feb 15, 2010 Bruce rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: basketball fans, sports journalism readers
This is a short 4-star book that drops to 3 stars if you bother to read much past about page 250 or so. Davis treats novelistically the 1979 NCAA championship game between Magic Johnson's/Greg Kelser's Michigan State Spartans and Larry Bird's Indiana State Sycamores taking readers through each team's entire season, playing up major and minor competition, characters, and side-stories. It's sort of a book version of "Hoosiers," really terrific stuff, heavy on back-and-forth action in make-or-break ...more
Mark
Oct 04, 2012 Mark rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
When March Went Mad:
The game that transformed basketball
By Seth Davis

Publisher: Times Books
Published In: New York , New York
Date: 2009
Pgs: 323

Summary:
The story of the rise of Earvin “Magic” Johnson and Larry Bird, their early basketball experiences and the people who influenced them, and the dream season when they reinvigorated college basketball and gave all of us a vision of what the NBA might someday look like. This follows the Michigan State Spartans through their 25-6 season and juxtapose
...more
Tom Gase
This was an interesting read about the 1979 NCAA basketball championship game between Michigan State and Indiana State. More importantly, it was the first time Earvin "Magic" Johnson of the Spartans went up against Larry Bird of the Sycamores. The two great players would go head-to-head many times in the NBA, and in a way, they also saved that league. But if that's what you want to read about, I suggest you pick up the new Jackie McMullen book, When the Game was Ours. This book focuses primarily ...more
Kerri
Sep 12, 2016 Kerri rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Impeccably reported and accessibly written account of the 1978-79 college basketball season that culminated in the Magic Johnson vs. Larry Bird, Michigan State vs. Indiana State championship game. The book follows both teams throughout the year and documents the game's effect on the players, coaches, schools and communities, as well as the game of basketball at the collegiate and professional level. It can be credited with starting the NCAA March Madness tournament, while the Magic/Larry rivalry ...more
Andrew
May 31, 2009 Andrew rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Davis is not much of a writer. I'm not sure what qualifies him to be an in-studio analyst, other than he wears a suit well. There's some interesting stuff to be told about the games Magic and Bird played in before their historic (and sadly underwhelming) run-in in the NCAA tournament, as well as a sociological/technological analysis of TV Sports culture, but Davis misses out because he's too busy constructing an extremely simple narrative.

It's very clear his influence is John Feinstein, whose TH
...more
Bap
Feb 28, 2011 Bap rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
In 1979 Indiana State with Larry Bird met Michigan State and magic Johnson in a game that caught the imagination of the country and started what has become March Madness. Bird was shy and unsophisticaed. Magic was outgoing and ready for prime time. Both were great players and the rivalry of 1979 would be carried into the pros. The 1979 tournament included Penn which beat UNC to get into the final four coached by Bob Weinhauer who was my high school coach. I remember him slamming me into the blea ...more
J.C.
Jan 09, 2009 J.C. rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2009-reads, sports, arc
Bird and Magic... You Can't Go Wrong

It might just be impossible to have a book with two better characters: Larry Bird and Magic Johnson. Two of the greatest, if not the two greatest basketball players of all time. This book does a truly remarkable job of chronicling the 1979 season of the Indiana State Sycamores and the Michigan State Spartans. A lot of attention is paid to the teams, the coaches, the teammates, and the communities that were directly (and sometimes indirectly) affected by their
...more
Jacob
May 24, 2010 Jacob rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
When March Went Mad by Seth Davis is a compelling story of two basketball players Erving "Magic" Johnson and Larry Bird who transformed the game of college basketball. College basketball wasn't nearly the same sport back in the late 70's as it is today. Bird a huge talent out of French Lick, Indiana became the leader of the Indiana State Sycamores from day one. On the other side was Erving "Magic" Johnson who had a winners mentality and his play for the Michigan State Spartans showed that he was ...more
John
Apr 02, 2009 John rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
If you enjoy college basketball and wonder why March Madness is such a huge event, then this book will provide a bit of context. It is the story of the famous match-up between Magic Johnson's (and the high-flying Greg Kelser's) Michigan State Spartans and Larry Bird's Indiana State Sycamores in the 1979 NCAA basketball championship. The game still has the highest television rating in NCAA basketball history. There are some good reasons for this and Seth Davis explains them well.

As a long-time fa
...more
Tim
Jul 10, 2010 Tim rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Davis argues the 1979 NCAA championship game ushered in a new era in college and professional basketball in the United States. Before the era of 24/7 cable sports coverage, before wall-to-wall internet coverage the final game was watched by more people who had ever watched a basketball game before and since.

The author employs a pretty typical journalistic style to tell this story. Chapters or sections of chapters alternate back and forth between the lives of Magic Johnson and Larry Bird, the su
...more
Ang
Nov 12, 2010 Ang added it
Shelves: arc
So good! I was eagerly anticipating this book, and so to get an ARC of it was really fantastic. I don't know that much about NCAA basketball, but I do enjoy reading about basketball, and I love when basketball books are accessible enough that someone who only knows the basics can understand them. I'd say this fits the bill. [return][return]I watched a lot of basketball as a youngster (growing up in Chicago in the Jordan era mandated that), so I watched Bird and Johnson, and knew about their NBA ...more
David
Jul 14, 2009 David rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is one of the very best sports books that I've read. Davis does a masterful job of weaving the story of the 1979 NCAA championship in men's basketball with the changes that it prompted in television sports coverage, college basketball, and the NBA. Along the way, the reader gets the requisite inside stories on Magic and Bird and their respective backgrounds. To his credit, though, Davis goes beyond that to connect the personalities, backgrounds, and stories of nearly everyone associated wit ...more
Preston Kutney
Mar 27, 2015 Preston Kutney rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A fun read to kick off March Madness. This is a mini-bio of both Larry and Magic, revealing their upbringings and development as basketball stars, and the watershed moment for college hoops when their teams met in the 1979 NCAA tournament championship. To this day, that game has the highest tv ratings of any basketball game, college or professional, which speaks to the level of excitement and attention that was paid to this game, and is a testament to how influential this game was in vaulting co ...more
Kevin
Apr 08, 2009 Kevin rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
a very good sports book that chronicled the 1979 NCAA season for the Michigan State Spartans and the Indiana State Sycamores as they eventually met in the final game that was the most watched basketball game ever. Seth Davis did a great job of paralleling the stories of Larry Bird and Magic Johnson as they played toward the collision point of this final game. With great research and cooperation from former players, coaches and other people associated with this time Davis really gets you on the i ...more
Mike
Apr 25, 2011 Mike added it
March 1979 - College Basketball was turned on its ear and it's never been the same since. That was the year Magic Johnson and Larry Bird faced on in the NCAA College Basketball Championship. Both Magic and Bird were both once in a generation players. Davis takes the reader through the 1978 - 79 season as Michigan State (Magic) and Indiana St (Bird) collide towards a post season showdown. [return][return]Davis captures the magic of college basketball well. He takes the reader back 30 yrs like it ...more
Sherrie
Sep 21, 2009 Sherrie rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: sports fans, especially NCAA or NBA
Recommended to Sherrie by: a review
For me personally, this book is a 5 star, and anyone who knows me will understand. I read it in one day. Davis did a great job of re-creating the season itself, especially the two main protagonists. Where he fell short was in his analysis of exactly why this game was what changed college basketball forever--you got the feeling he'd reached his maximum number of pages and just wanted to wrap things up quickly. I could live with that, but other people, not so familiar with that era, will be left p ...more
Nick Montgomery
Oct 19, 2012 Nick Montgomery rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition


Not a bad read for a Duke grad! If you ever wanted to know more about the '79 championship run this is for you. Fans of Bird and Johnson will find the insights in this book especially compelling. Great characterizations of the two icons of hoops. I also liked the side stories of the two coaches, Heathcote and Hodges, each seemingly coming out of nowhere but only one emerging with the chalice in hand, the other a forgotten but essential figure in this story. Great sports read for any college hoo
...more
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »
  • Red and Me: My Coach, My Lifelong Friend
  • The Long Snapper: A Second Chance, a Super Bowl, a Lesson for Life
  • The Assist: Hoops, Hope, and the Game of Their Lives
  • A March to Madness: A View from the Floor in the Atlantic Coast Conference
  • They Call Me Coach
  • Seven Seconds or Less: My Season on the Bench with the Runnin' and Gunnin' Phoenix Suns
  • Knight: My Story
  • Fall River Dreams: A Team's Quest for Glory, A Town's Search for Its Soul
  • Eagle Blue: A Team, A Tribe, and a High School Basketball Team in Arctic Alaska
  • The Last Great Game: Duke vs. Kentucky and the 2.1 Seconds That Changed Basketball
  • The Miracle of St. Anthony: A Season with Coach Bob Hurley and Basketball's Most Improbable Dynasty
  • Outside Shot: Big Dreams, Hard Times, and One County's Quest for Basketball Greatness
  • Let Me Tell You a Story: A Lifetime in the Game
  • Heaven Is a Playground
  • Bird Watching: On Playing and Coaching the Game I Love
  • Pistol: The Life of Pete Maravich
  • Loose Balls: The Short, Wild Life of the American Basketball Association
  • When the Garden Was Eden: Clyde, the Captain, Dollar Bill, and the Glory Days of the New York Knicks

Share This Book