Kentucky vs. Wichita State leads the 10 best games of the NCAA tournament
The NCAA tournament culminated in a championship game featuring a No. 7 seed (Connecticut) facing a No. 8 seed (Kentucky), the first time in history the title match did not feature a No. 1, No. 2 or No. 3 seed. It took some nuttiness just to get to Monday night.
As it happened, Final Four entrants Kentucky, Connecticut and Wisconsin were involved in a good deal of the craziness. Here's a look back at the 10 best games of the 2014 NCAA tournament:
1. Kentucky 78, Wichita State 76
It was maybe the most momentous round of 32 game ever, pitting Kentucky's arguably under-seeded but dangerous freshmen against a No. 1 seed with a 35-0 record. The teams traded punches and counterpunches until the Shockers' Fred VanVleet missed a three-pointer at the buzzer.
2. Wisconsin 64, Arizona 63 (overtime)
On what would have been the 90th birthday of Bo Ryan's late father, the Badgers grinded through the seventh overtime game of the tournament behind Frank Kaminsky's 28 points. Wisconsin's Traevon Jackson missed a possible game-winner late in regulation, but the Badgers' Josh Gasser drew a charge on Arizona's Nick Johnson with four seconds left in overtime. After an ensuing Badgers turnover, the Wildcats couldn't get a shot off at the buzzer.
3. Kentucky 74, Wisconsin 73
Another Wildcats comeback capped by another cold-blooded Aaron Harrison game-winner. The Badgers amassed as much as an eight-point first-half lead before the game became a thrilling back-and-forth affair. Jackson was fouled on a three-point attempt with 16 seconds left and the game tied 71-71, but made only 2-of-3 free throws. That left it to Andrew Harrison to find his twin brother after a breakdown on the last play, with Aaron Harrison nailing a go-ahead three-point shot with 5.7 seconds left.
4. Kentucky 75, Michigan 72
Kentucky faced a 10-point first-half deficit before climbing back, and then Michigan tied it on a Jordan Morgan layup with 31 seconds left. That set up the first of Aaron Harrison's two bring-down-the-house three-pointers to win games. The Wildcats set up their freshman sniper on the wing, well into NBA three-point range, and he drained a shot over Michigan's Caris LeVert with 2.3 seconds left to send the Wildcats to the Final Four.
It was a No. 5 seed vs. No. 12 seed showdown many penciled in as an upset to begin with, but the teams took an exciting path to get there. Stephen F. Austin's Desmond Haymon connected on a four-point play with 3.6 seconds left in regulation to force overtime, and then a shot clock-beating jumper by Jacob Parker in the extra period helped the Lumberjacks hold on.
This was another No. 5 versus No. 12 seed matchup that plenty of people eyed as an upset waiting to happen. And it was another dramatic route to the end. The Bison's Lawrence Alexander hit a three-pointer with 11 seconds left in regulation to force overtime, and then reserve Carlin Dupree scored four straight points in the extra session to help North Dakota State to victory.
A Big Brother vs. Little Brother matchup with a stirring ending. The Buckeyes' Aaron Craft hit a you're-kidding-me reverse with 15.5 seconds left to put the Buckeyes ahead by one, but Vee Sanford got the lead back for the Flyers by making a layup with 3.8 seconds left. Craft rushed up the floor but missed a shot at the buzzer.
A charged-up offensive game – the teams combined for 20 three-pointers – was most notable for a wild finish. DeAndre Kane drove for a go-ahead layup for Iowa State with 1.6 seconds left. North Carolina's Nate Britt received the inbounds pass and didn't call timeout immediately. But the clock hadn't started again after the inbounds, so when Britt did signal for a timeout, officials checked the clock and ruled the timeout came too late, ending the Tar Heels' season.
The No. 3 seed Blue Devils never quite shook the No. 14 seed Bears -- their largest advantage was seven points in the first half. A three-point play by Mercer's Daniel Coursey provided a five-point lead with 68 seconds left, and the Bears made 7-of-8 free throws in the last 33 seconds to ice it. It was Duke's second mammoth upset loss in the round of 64 in three years, after losing to No. 15 seed Lehigh in 2012.
10. Texas 87, Arizona State 85 Neither side made much of a meaningful run in March, but this was at least among the round of 64's most entertaining games. Texas had a 14-point lead with 12 minutes remaining before the Sun Devils chipped away, going in front with 47 seconds left on a Jordan Bachynski dunk and then tying it with 17 seconds to go. Then Texas' Cameron Ridley battled for a loose ball off a Jonathan Holmes miss and flipped in a putback at the buzzer for the win.