By almost eliminating top seed Georgetown in a first-round tournament game, Princeton made sure Cinderella would always get invited to the ball. Down 50-49, Princeton's Kit Mueller took the inbounds pass with one tick remained on the clock, but a game-saving block by Alonzo Mourning, who had seven blocks in the game, sealed a victory for the Hoyas.
2 of 16Al Tielemans/SI
Florida Gulf Coast
It's not just that the Eagles beat No. 2 seed Georgetown and No. 7 San Diego State. It's how they did it. Sophomore point guard Brett Comer (right) dished 31 assists in FGCU's three-game run, many of which ended with monstrous crowd-pleasing slams by Chase Fieler (left). The magical run would end against Florida in the regional semis, but not before Dunk City had become a national name.
3 of 16Jerry Wachter/SI
The Vikings' Run 'n' Stun style made quite an impression on the No. 3-seed Indiana, who lost 83-79 in the first round. Led by freshman point guard Ken (Mouse) McFadden, the Vikings defeated Saint Joseph's and then came within a point of beating David Robinson and Navy.
4 of 16David E. Klutho/SI
The moment has a permanent place in every Big Dance highlight reel: With 2.5 seconds to play an opening-round game against No. 4 Ole Miss, Jamie Sykes threw a 55-foot inbounds pass to Bill Jenkins, who tapped it to Bryce Drew (left) for the leaning three-pointer that upset the Rebels 70-69.
5 of 16Richard Mackson/SI
Fennis Dembo dropped 41 on Reggie Miller and fourth-seeded UCLA in the second round, stunning the Bruins 78-68. This win came just days after Dembo led the Cowboys to an upset over No. 5 seed Virginia. Wyoming's run would end in the Sweet 16, but Dembo's legend, for both his name and his game, lives on in Laramie.
6 of 16Greg Nelson/SI
Wins over Michigan State and North Carolina proved the Patriots belonged in the field, and the 86-84 regional final win over the Huskies was one for the ages. Sophomore Folarin Campbell and senior Lamar Butler combined for five three-pointers in a 6:02 span to force overtime.
7 of 16Michael Conroy/AP
The Zags beat No. 7 seed Minnesota in the first round for their first-ever NCAA tournament win. They then took out No. 2 Stanford to reach the Sweet 16. But it was a victory against Florida that vaulted the tiny Jesuit school into the Elite Eight and national prominence.
8 of 16John W. McDonough/SI
After winning their first three games by a combined 38 points, the Shockers entered the West Regional finals against No. 2 seed Ohio State as an underdog on paper only. Led by seniors Malcolm Armstead and Carl Hall, WSU played with swagger, emerging with a 70-66 victory and the school's first Final Four berth since 1965.
9 of 16Carl Skalak/SI
The 19-10 Wildcats just barely made the newly expanded field, and senior forward Ed Pinckney and Villanova were given virtually no chance against defending champion Georgetown. But thanks to lights-out shooting (78.6%, still a title-game record) and a matchup zone that confounded Hoyas center Patrick Ewing, the Wildcats became the lowest seed to win a title.
10 of 16AP
The Cavaliers clawed through the Eastern region, winning three of their four games by two points or less. Against No. 2 seed Arkansas, co-captain Rick Carlisle hit a 10-foot baseline jumper with four seconds remaining in OT to seal a 53-51 win. Olden Polynice (24) and Virginia took Hakeem Olajuwon and Houston to OT in the national semifinal before falling 49-47.
11 of 16Rich Clarkson/SI
North Carolina State
Lorenzo Charles began the season in coach Jim Valvano's doghouse for stealing two pizzas, but the sophomore forward finished on top of the world, after his buzzer-beating dunk defeated Houston 54-52. In upsetting the top-seeded Cougars, the Wolfpack became the first 10-loss team to win a title.
12 of 16John W. McDonough/SI
While the real-life Hoosiers narrative was just too easy, the comparison sold the Bulldogs short. The leading men behind one of the tournament's most memorable runs included a future NBA coach (Brad Stevens) and a lottery pick (6' 9" swingman Gordon Hayward) who more than belonged in the championship game -- even if Hayward's last-second half-court heave didn't drop for a true Hollywood ending.
13 of 16David E. Klutho/SI
No fourth seed had ever won it all. Neither had any team from Arizona, or any squad coached by Lute Olson, whose Wildcats had a habit of first-round exits. But what did precedent matter to a team with four new starters, including freshman floor general Mike Bibby, who averaged 20.0 points, 6.0 rebounds and 4.3 assists in 'Zona's three wins over No. 1 seeds.
14 of 16Rich Clarkson/SI
Sophomore starters Joakim Noah, Al Horford, Corey Brewer and Taurean Green and the Gators entered the season unranked. But by April, sparked by the charismatic Noah's tenacity (and his tournament-record six blocks in the the NCAA final against UCLA), the quartet of roommates had won the first of two NCAA titles.
15 of 16Rich Clarkson/SI
Sophomore point guard Magic Johnson made the Spartans fly, and his two triple doubles capped an otherworldly NCAA run that would earn Michigan State its first national title and Johnson a statue on campus. "Every member of the team is a hero," one Spartans fan gushed to SI that April, "but Magic is a legend."
16 of 16David E. Klutho/SI
Its talent was so abundant (11 Wildcats would play in the NBA) that coach Rick Pitino dubbed his team the Professionals. Winning a title seemed preordained. After outscoring their first five tournament opponents by an average of 24.0 points, senior guard Tony Delk tied a championship-game record with seven threes against Syracuse, and sophomore forward Antoine Walker added 11 points and nine rebounds to help inspire the team's enduring moniker: the Untouchables.
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