What was going on in the world the last time Duke missed the NCAA Tournament?
REED SAXON/AFP via Getty Images

What was going on in the world the last time Duke missed the NCAA Tournament?

This year’s March Madness is going to be weird for Duke haters. Are you happy that the Blue Devils have missed the men’s tournament? Or are you disappointed you can’t root for them to lose and then celebrate their upset defeat? Coach K’s crew has won a few titles over the years and have been a tourney staple. Not in 2021, however. This is the first time Duke has missed out on March Madness since the 1994-95 season. That was quite a while ago. What was going on in 1995 when the Blue Devils were sitting at home watching the NCAA Men’s Tournament with the rest of us? Let’s take a look.

 
1 of 40

UCLA wins it all

UCLA wins it all
Al Bello/Allsport/Getty Images

We might as well start with the teams that made the NCAA Tournament, right? Duke fans will probably be extra upset, because North Carolina made the Final Four this year alongside Arkansas, UCLA, and Oklahoma State. The Razorbacks, the preseason number one, made it to the championship game, but they fell short to the Bruins. Ed O’Bannon was named the outstanding player of the tourney, but these days he’s best known for fighting for college athletes to get compensated for the use of their names and likenesses.

 
2 of 40

Joe Smith is the player of the year

Joe Smith is the player of the year
Doug Pensinger/Getty Images

Sticking in college hoops, Joe Smith out of Maryland was pretty much the consensus top player of the season. He won the Wooden, the Naismith, and the AP Player of the Year awards. The only other player to make a challenge was Michigan State’s Shawn Respert. Both players, as well as O’Bannon, were All-Americans.

 
3 of 40

The beginning of UConn’s dominance

The beginning of UConn’s dominance
Bob Stowell/Getty Images

It may not be surprising to hear that Connecticut won the women’s tournament in 1995. After all, the Huskies have dominated women’s college basketball under Geno Auriemma. However, this was just the beginning of that run. While UConn went undefeated in the 1994-95 season and beat Tennessee in the championship game, this was the team’s first title. It certainly would not be their last.

 
4 of 40

San Fran easily wins the Super Bowl

San Fran easily wins the Super Bowl
Focus on Sport/Getty Images

Since the Super Bowl happens early in the year, just a couple of months before March Madness, we are going to talk about the Super Bowl that happened in 1995, but that would make it the championship game of the 1994 season. The San Francisco 49ers returned to the Super Bowl this year, facing in-state opponents the San Diego Chargers. Led by Steve Young and Jerry Rice, the 49ers made easy work of the Chargers, winning 49-26. It was the fifth Super Bowl for the franchise.

 
5 of 40

The Rams and Raiders move

The Rams and Raiders move
Otto Greule/ALLSP

Now, let’s move on to some things that happened during that 1995 NFL season. Or, in this case, before the season. When 1995 began, the city of Los Angeles had two NFL teams. By the time the year ended they had none. This year the Rams left LA for St. Louis, while the Raiders headed back up to Oakland. Of course, now the Rams are back in Los Angeles, while the Raiders have made the move to Las Vegas.

 
6 of 40

Two expansion teams join the NFL

Two expansion teams join the NFL
Focus on Sport/Getty Images

Los Angeles may have lost both its teams in 1995, but two other cities gained teams. This was the first year that the Jacksonville Jaguars and Carolina Panthers played games. While the Jaguars struggled to a 4-12 record, the Panthers were better than you might expect from an expansion team, as they went 7-9.

 
7 of 40

Brett Favre wins the MVP

Brett Favre wins the MVP
Focus on Sport/Getty Images

The gunslinging quarterback would win three MVPs in a row, though he shared one with Barry Sanders, so it had to start somewhere with Favre. That would be in 1995 when he won his first MVP thanks to leading the NFL with 38 touchdown passes. This is the only year Favre led the NFL in both passing yards and passing touchdowns, and also the only year he was also named Offensive Player of the Year.

 
8 of 40

Ki-Jana Carter is the first-overall pick

Ki-Jana Carter is the first-overall pick
Focus on Sport via Getty Images

Part of the point of doing an article like this is to illustrate how much things have changed since the last time Duke missed the tourney. Here’s something that will drive that home. In 1995, the top pick in the NFL Draft was a running back. In fact, the Bengals traded up from the fifth pick to take the back out of Penn State. It did not work out great for them. The Panthers, who had the first-overall pick originally, took Kerry Collins, which worked out better. Although, nobody’s first-round holds a candle to the Buccaneers, who added two future Hall of Famers in Warren Sapp and Derrick Brooks.

 
9 of 40

The first-ever Division I-A overtime game

The first-ever Division I-A overtime game
Carlos Herrera/Icon Sportswire/Corbis/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

A Las Vegas Bowl between Toledo and Nevada does not seem likely to be noteworthy all these years later. However, this game was the first time that a Division I-A college football game went into overtime. It was added for the 1995 bowl season before being added for regular-season games in 1996. That means the final tie game in Division I-A (now FBS) also happened in 1995.

 
10 of 40

The Southwest Conference shuts up shop

The Southwest Conference shuts up shop
Robert Seale/Allsport/Getty Images

Once upon a time, the Southwest Conference was one of the best conferences in college sports, especially in football. It played home to seven Texas schools plus Arkansas. Texas and Texas A&M were SWC schools, and so was SMU in their heyday. Of course, SMU’s heyday involved breaking the NCAA’s rules, which led to the school getting the “death penalty” in football. This started the downturn for the SWC. Arkansas was the first to leave, and eventually, four of the schools would join the Big 8 to form the Big 12. Houston beat Rice 18-17 to end the 1995 season, the final SWC game ever played.

 
11 of 40

Nebraska wins back-to-back titles

Nebraska wins back-to-back titles
Nebraska/Collegiate Images via Getty Images

Whether we wanted to talk about the team winning the 1994 title at the beginning of 1995 or the champion of the 1995 season, it would be the same team. Tom Osborne’s Nebraska Cornhuskers used their option offense to dominate in the mid-‘90s. First-ranked Nebraska and second-ranked Florida faced off in the Fiesta Bowl to serve as a de facto championship game at the end of the 1995 season. There was no contest, as the Cornhuskers dominated in a 62-24 win.

 
12 of 40

Eddie George wins the Heisman

Eddie George wins the Heisman
JERRY HOLT/Star Tribune via Getty Images

George’s breakout campaign came in the 1994 season, but in 1995 he took things to the next level. The Buckeyes running back rushed for 1,927 yards and 24 touchdowns, earning him the Heisman Trophy. George would go on to have a fine NFL career, being named the Offensive Rookie of the Year and making four Pro Bowls.

 
13 of 40

Atlanta wins the World Series

Atlanta wins the World Series
CHRIS WILKINS/AFP via Getty Images

Infamously, the 1994 MLB season ended with a strike that canceled the World Series. In 1995, baseball returned. When the season came to a close, Atlanta bested Cleveland for the World Series, making the Braves franchise the first to win a World Series in three different cities.

 
14 of 40

Big baseball award winners

Big baseball award winners
Focus on Sport/Getty Images

The Cy Young winners of the 1995 season are two names baseball fans certainly know. Randy Johnson and Greg Maddux, two of the all-time best pitchers ever, both won Cy Youngs thanks to incredible seasons. Meanwhile, Mo Vaughn was the AL MVP for the Boston Red Sox, while Barry Larkin took home the NL MVP for the Cincinnati Reds. Hideo Nomo came over from Japan and wowed to win the NL Rookie of the Year. The AL Rookie of the Year was Marty Cordova. We thought it would be unfair not to mention him.

 
15 of 40

The Devils win a lockout-shortened season

The Devils win a lockout-shortened season
B Bennett/Getty Images

We mentioned baseball’s strike in 1994, and the NHL was not without labor disputes as well. The 1994-95 season was shorted to only 48 games due to a lockout. If that wasn’t bleak enough, the New Jersey Devils used their dreaded neutral-zone trap to sweep the Detroit Red Wings to win the Stanley Cup. It set the stage for a defensive era of hockey that was pretty rough to watch at times.

 
16 of 40

Kevin Garnett is drafted out of high school

Kevin Garnett is drafted out of high school
JERRY HOLT/Star Tribune via Getty Images

The first-overall pick of the 1995 NBA Draft was the aforementioned Joe Smith, who had a solid if unremarkable NBA career. He’s best remembered for being the player at the center of a salary cap scandal that plagued the Minnesota Timberwolves. Speaking of the Timberwolves, they made history when they drafted Kevin Garnett with the fifth pick in that draft. He became the first player taken directly out of high school since Moses Malone two decades earlier.

 
17 of 40

Michael Jordan returns

Michael Jordan returns
VINCENT LAFORET/AFP via Getty Images

As you surely know, Michael Jordan retired after the Bulls won the title in 1993. He went to go play baseball and all that. However, during the 1994-95 NBA season, Jordan decided that his future was in basketball. Famously, he sent in a fax simply saying, “I’m back.” Jordan would return, wearing the number 45, but he could not get the Bulls back to the NBA Finals.

 
18 of 40

Houston makes history

Houston makes history
Allsport /Allsport

The Houston Rockets won the NBA title the first year sans Jordan, and then they repeated as champs led by Hakeem Olajuwon in 1995. So why was the Rockets winning a surprise? Because Houston didn’t have a great regular season. In fact, the 1994-95 Houston Rockets are the lowest-seeded team to ever win the NBA championship, as they went on to win it all as the sixth seed.

 
19 of 40

David Robinson wins MVP

David Robinson wins MVP
DOUG COLLIER/AFP via Getty Images

Olajuwon and the Rockets won the NBA title. Shaquille O’Neal got the Magic to the Finals and led the league in points per game at 29.3. However, neither of these players won the MVP. That award went to the Admiral himself, David Robinson. Robinson averaged 27.6 points and 10.7 rebounds per game while playing his usual stout defense. In fact, the Navy alum blocked 3.2 shots per game. Crazy? Not for Robinson, who averaged over three blocks for seven-straight seasons. Also on the awards front, Grant Hill and Jason Kidd shared the Rookie of the Year award.

 
20 of 40

Jacques Villeneuve wins the Indy 500

Jacques Villeneuve wins the Indy 500
Mike Cooper/Allsport

Villeneuve is not one of the biggest names in auto racing history, but he made a splash by winning the 1995 Indianapolis 500. It’s his only notable racing achievement in the United States, but the Canadian made a big name for himself in Europe. In 1997, he was the champion of Formula One. On the auto racing front, Sterling Marlin won his second of back-to-back Daytona 500s, while the legendary Jeff Gordon won his first NASCAR championship.

 
21 of 40

John Daly wins the British Open

John Daly wins the British Open
Peter Dazeley/Getty Images

John Daly is known as much for his personality and his partying ways as his golf career. He had a big drive, and clearly had some skill, but his extracurricular activities got in the way. Still, he did manage to win two majors in his career, including the 1995 British Open. It would be his second, and last, majors win. The other majors winners were Ben Crenshaw, Corey Pavin, and Steve Elkington.

 
22 of 40

Annika Sorenstam wins her first major

Annika Sorenstam wins her first major
J.D. Cuban/Allsport

Sorenstam is one of the all-time great golfers from the LPGA tour, but everybody has to start somewhere. While the Swede turned pro in 1992, it wasn’t until 1995 that she won her first tournament. It was a pretty nice win, as Sorenstam took home a major, the U.S. Women’s Open, for her first career LPGA win.

 
23 of 40

Pete Sampras takes home two Grand Slams

Pete Sampras takes home two Grand Slams
Mike FIAL/AFP via Getty Images

It was pretty clear that Sampras was the best player on the men’s tour in 1995, as he both began and ended the year as the top-ranked player on the ATP Tour. It helped that he won two Grand Slam tournaments, taking home both Wimbledon and the U.S. Open. Meanwhile, Andre Agassi was the second-ranked player and won the Australian Open.

 
24 of 40

Steffi Graf dominates the women’s tour

Steffi Graf dominates the women’s tour
Clive Brunskill/Allsport/Getty Images

Eventually, Agassi would marry Graf, and it was a real meeting of two dominant tennis powers. Graf had an incredible season in 1995. She won more tournaments than anybody with nine, and three of those were Grand Slams. The only Grand Slam she didn’t take home was the Australian Open, which went to Mary Pierce.

 
25 of 40

“Toy Story” is released

“Toy Story” is released
Disney

These days, we’re used to Pixar being a dominant force in film. When “Toy Story” was being released, though, we had no idea what might come. This was, after all, the first-ever completely computer-animated film. It was Pixar’s first movie. Things turned out just fine. “Toy Story” was a huge hit, finishing second in the box office. The movie spawned three sequels, and it’s considered one of the best film series of all-time.

 
26 of 40

Pierce Brosnan debuts as James Bond

Pierce Brosnan debuts as James Bond
Eon, United Artists

It had been a wild ride since Timothy Dalton’s two-movie run as James Bond when Pierce Brosnan stepped into the role. He made his debut as Bond in “Goldeneye.” It was a big success and led to Brosnan performing as Bond in three more films, each with diminishing returns.

 
27 of 40

We get a new Batman as well

We get a new Batman as well
Warner Bros.

After Michael Keaton made two Batman films with Tim Burton, he hung up the cowl after “Batman Returns.” If there is one thing we know, though, it’s that you can’t keep the Caped Crusader down. Bruce Wayne returned to screen in 1995 with “Batman Forever,” with Val Kilmer stepping into the role. It would be Kilmer’s only turn as the Dark Knight, and he was overshadowed by Jim Carrey as Riddler.

 
28 of 40

“Waterworld” becomes the brunt of jokes

“Waterworld” becomes the brunt of jokes
Universal

After winning Best Picture for “Dances with Wolves,” there was something of a target on Kevin Costner’s back. His next big film after his victory was “Waterworld,” a weird, post-apocalyptic film that became a punchline. The problem, in part, was that at the time it was the most expensive film ever made. That led to the perception that it would be a fiasco. However, believe it or not, in spite of all the jokes “Waterworld” finished ninth in the worldwide box office for 1995, and it made its money back.

 
29 of 40

“Braveheart” wins Best Picture

“Braveheart” wins Best Picture
Paramount

Time has not been kind to the 1995 Oscars. “Braveheart” won Best Picture, and Mel Gibson won Best Director. Meanwhile, Kevin Spacey won Best Supporting Actor for “The Usual Suspects.” Those are two guys we don’t like to talk about anymore and with good reason. Nicolas Cage also won Best Actor for “Leaving Las Vegas,” which might surprise people who only think of Cage for his over-the-top performances in bad movies.

 
30 of 40

The WB and UPN debut

The WB and UPN debut
The WB

For many years, there were three networks: CBS, NBC, and ABC. Then, FOX was added to the mix. Finally, in 1995, we got a couple more over-the-air channels in The WB Network and UPN. Eventually, they would join forces as The CW.

 
31 of 40

WCW’s “Monday Night Nitro” debuts

WCW’s “Monday Night Nitro” debuts
TNT

If you were a wrestling fan in the ‘90s, you likely remember the Monday Night Wars. This was when the WWF (later the WWE) and WCW fought for supremacy on Monday nights with their respective shows. This began in 1995 when WCW debuted Monday Night Nitro on TNT. It emanated from the Mall of America, where Hulk Hogan was on hand to promote his new fast-food restaurant Pastamania!. Yes, really.

 
32 of 40

Will Ferrell joins the “Saturday Night Live” cast

Will Ferrell joins the “Saturday Night Live” cast
NBC

Ferrell is one of the biggest names in comedy, and it all began in 1995 when he joined the cast of “Saturday Night Live.” He wasn’t the only one, as Cheri O’Teri joined the cast at the same time. Those two would join forces with their popular cheerleader characters. Also added to the cast was Darrell Hammond, who became the longest-running “SNL” cast member until Kenan Thompson took that spot.

 
33 of 40

“Who Shot Mr. Burns, Part 2” airs

“Who Shot Mr. Burns, Part 2” airs
FOX

“The Simpsons” was at its peak of popularity in the ‘90s, and they decided to pull off a big swing. They ended their sixth season with “Who Shot Mr. Burns, Part 1,” a cliffhanger that left the evil businessman wounded by a mysterious gunshot. They spent the time between the seasons building up the mystery, and the seventh-season premiere, “Who Shot Mr. Burns, Part 2,” was led into by a fake episode of “America’s Most Wanted.” Turns out that Maggie did it.

 
34 of 40

“Mr. Show” debuts

“Mr. Show” debuts
HBO

There’s not a lot of shows with a lasting legacy that debuted in 1995. “The Drew Carey Show” definitely had some success. “Xena: Warrior Princess” is cultishly adored. However, in terms of cults, few comedy shows get the love of “Mr. Show,” the HBO sketch comedy program starring Bob Odenkirk and David Cross. Both have gone on to big things since, especially Odenkirk, who is now a successful dramatic actor.

 
35 of 40

“Full House” ends

“Full House” ends
ABC

If we wanted to keep talking about cult sketch comedy shows of the ‘90s, we could focus on MTV’s “The State” ending here. That would be a bit self-indulgent, though. Instead, let’s turn to the family-friendly “Full House,” which concluded its run in 1995 after having debuted in 1987. The adventures of the Tanner family had run their course, but then again that didn’t stop “Fuller House” from springing to reality for Netflix.

 
36 of 40

“Frasier” and “NYPD Blue” win Emmys

“Frasier” and “NYPD Blue” win Emmys
NBC

Both “Frasier” and “NYPD Blue” were major players in the Emmys, so it’s not surprising that they won Outstanding Comedy Series and Outstanding Drama Series, respectively. Kelsey Grammer and David Hyde Pierce also won Emmys for “Frasier.” Speaking of heavy hitters, Candice Bergen also won yet-another Emmy for “Murphy Brown.” It was her fifth Emmy for the role, and she declined to submit herself for consideration after this win.

 
37 of 40

The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame opens

The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame opens
KIMBERLY BARTH/AFP via Getty Images

A lot of people think the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame is silly. We get it, but people debate it for a reason. Well, the Hall of Fame opened in Cleveland, Ohio in the year 1995. Yes, it hasn’t been around longer than that. With this and “The Drew Carey Show,” it was a big year for Cleveland.

 
38 of 40

Jerry Garcia dies

Jerry Garcia dies
Tim Mosenfelder/Getty Images

Few bands have as devoted a following as The Grateful Dead. In July of 1995, the band performed at Soldier Field in Chicago with Jerry Garcia as the frontman as always. Garcia had gone into rehab after that, but the damage done to his body had taken its toll. The beloved musician suffered a heart attack and died, passing away at 53. All across the country, and probably the world, Deadheads gathered to more the beloved musicians. Eventually, two of those Deadheads, Ben and Jerry, would name an ice cream after him.

 
39 of 40

The O.J. Simpson trial

The O.J. Simpson trial
VINCE BUCCI/AFP via Getty Images

As grim as it is, there was no bigger cultural event in 1995 than the O.J. Simpson trial. It was the television experience of the year, if not the decade. The trial began on television in January and a reported 150 million people tuned in to see the verdict released on October 3. As you surely know, Simpson was found not guilty, and that led to all sorts of reactions around the country.

 
40 of 40

The internet goes private

The internet goes private
Jonathan Elderfield/Liaison

Since you are reading this on the internet, we figured we should close with an internet-related topic. In 1995, the United States government stopped providing public funding for the internet. That made it officially entirely privatized. This same year, both Prodigy and America Online began offering people access to the World Wide Web with their browsers. It truly changed the way we interact with the world, and with each other.

Chris Morgan is a sports and pop culture writer and the author of the books The Comic Galaxy of Mystery Science Theater 3000 and The Ash Heap of History. You can follow him on Twitter @ChrisXMorgan.

More must-reads:

Customize Your Newsletter

+

Get the latest news and rumors, customized to your favorite sports and teams. Emailed daily. Always free!

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.