Great NCAA Games Since Expansion
Hayward's heave rims out
In one of the most compelling national title games in tournament history, Butler star Gordon Hayward just missed a half-court shot for the national title. With Butler trailing 61-59 in the waning seconds, Hayward rebounded an intentionally missed free throw by Duke's Brian Zoubek, dribbled to half court (thanks to a bone-crushing screen from Matt Howard) and released the ball just as the buzzer sounded. The ball majestically soared toward the rim, eventually hitting off the backboard and front rim before bouncing out. Butler just missed a storybook ending, and Duke earned its fourth national title.
Kansas gets Farokhmanesh'ed
After spending most of the season as the nation's No. 1 team, Kansas entered the tournament as the prohibitive favorite to cut down the nets. But the Jayhawks had no answer for Northern Iowa's Mr. Clutch, Ali Farokhmanesh. Northern Iowa had Kansas on the ropes all game, but the Jayhawks employed an effective full-court press to get back into the game in the final minute. Then Farokhmanesh, who hit the game-winning shot in Northern Iowa's first-round win over UNLV, delivered the knockout blow. With 35 seconds left and UNI clinging to a one-point lead, Farokhmanesh got the ball on the right wing on a 2-on-1 fastbreak. Instead of attacking the hoop or running some clock, Farokhmanesh pulled up and hit a cold-blooded three-pointer that effectively finished off KU.
The first Final Four to feature all four No. 1 seeds was a dud on semifinal Saturday, but championship Monday more than made up for it. Sparked by freshman Derrick Rose, Memphis led by nine with just over two minutes left, but Kansas made a furious rally and tied the game on a fading three-pointer by Mario Chalmers with 2.1 seconds left. That shot set up the first overtime title game in 11 years and only the third since 1964. The Jayhawks controlled the extra period and salted away the game by doing the one thing the Tigers could not do in regulation -- make free throws in the final seconds. KU ended up winning 75-68.
Stephen Curry's explosion
No. 2 seed Georgetown was on cruise control for much of this second-round matchup with Davidson. The Hoyas held an 11-point lead at intermission and increased it to 17 in the second half. But Stephen Curry wouldn't die. The sweet-shooting Wildcat scored 25 second-half points (and dished out four key assists) to guide Davidson into the Sweet 16.
George Mason reaches Final Four
The Patriots could have filled this list multiple times, thanks to first- and second-round victories against powerhouse programs Michigan State (a six seed) and defending national champion North Carolina (a three seed with an inexperienced team), but the real standout among the upsets was the 86-84 overtime win over top-seeded, three-loss UConn. George Mason became only the second No. 11 seed to reach the Final Four, and the first mid-major to do in 27 years. The funny thing is, back on Selection Sunday, one of the big topics of conversation was that George Mason had received an at-large bid it didn't deserve.
The Demons convert a prayer
With Northwestern State down by two in the waning seconds, Demons guard Jermaine Wallace (inset, left) corralled a loose-ball rebound, but found himself trapped in the corner. Wallace took one dribble toward the baseline, then chucked up a fadeaway three that splashed through the net with a half second left to give the Demons a 64-63 win. This prayer capped off the 14th-seeded Demons' comeback from a 17-point deficit with 8 1/2 minutes left.
An Elite Eight to remember
Three games from this round could each occupy spots on this list, but the trio belongs together. For the first time in the Big Dance's 67-year history, three regional finals were decided in overtime. Two Final Four-bound teams staged improbable comebacks on the same day: Illinois (which erased a 15-point deficit in the final four minutes against Arizona) and Louisville (which rallied from 20 down against West Virginia). The next day, Kentucky forced overtime with Patrick Sparks' desperation three-pointer (which prompted a seven-minute review to confirm it was indeed a three) before Michigan State prevailed in double OT.
The band-less Bison shocks KU
Facing one of the game's legendary programs and a team that had been ranked No. 1 in the preseason, the Bison had only five scholarship players and had to borrow the band from Northern Iowa because theirs was on spring break. But Bucknell, a No. 14 seed, certainly made the best of the situation by edging past the Jayhawks 64-63. Chris McNaughton banked in the winning hook shot with 10.5 seconds to go, and Wayne Simien missed a jump shot at the buzzer. It was the first opening-round loss for the Jayhawks in their past 21 tries and the first tournament win ever for the Bison (or any team from the Patriot League, for that matter).
Hoosiers never say die
Down 17 midway through the first half against the top-seeded and defending national champion Blue Devils, the Hoosiers clamped down on defense and survived a wild finish to reach the Elite Eight for the first time since 1993. With Duke trailing by four, Jason Williams (inset) made a three-pointer while being fouled with 4.2 seconds left, but he missed the potential game-tying free throw and Carlos Boozer couldn't convert a putback.
Hampton lifts Merfeld to victory
Hampton became only the fourth No. 15 seed to beat a 2 seed in tourney history. Hampton trailed by as many as 11 points in the second half, but Tarvis Williams (inset) made a shot in the lane to give the underdog Pirates a 58-57 lead with just under seven seconds remaining, and Iowa State's Jamaal Tinsley missed at the other end as the horn sounded. In a moment that has been part of March Madness montages ever since, Hampton coach Steve Merfeld was lifted in the air by his players, pumping his fists and kicking his legs in jubilation.
No. 12 seed Butler held a 68-67 lead over Florida with just 8.1 seconds remaining in overtime when Billy Donovan called the play "Home Run." Teddy Dupay passed the ball to Mike Miller on the left side of the key with about three seconds left. Instead of settling for a quick jumper, Miller drove inside and barely got off the game-winning shot before the buzzer sounded. It was so close, officials went to video replay. Eventually, the basket was confirmed and Florida won 69-68. After this first-round scare, the Gators advanced all the way to the national title game before losing to Michigan State.
Stanford's furious comeback
The Cardinal came back from six down in the final minute to defeat eighth-seeded Rhode Island 79-77 in the Midwest Regional final and advance to the Final Four for the first time in five decades. Stanford capitalized on a pair of three-point plays, as well as careless ballhandling and errant free throws by Rhode Island.
Third time's a charm for UConn
Down by one point to Washington with the clock winding down, UConn PG Khalid El-Amin drove to the hoop before passing to an open Jake Voskuhl. Voskuhl tossed up a shot in the lane, but missed. Richard Hamilton corralled the rebound and got a great look from point-blank range, but he missed it. The ball was tipped around between multiple players before landing back in Hamilton's hands. Rip quickly released a fadeaway jumper from just inside the free-throw line and it splashed through the net as the buzzer sounded.
Father knows best
Facing a two-point deficit with possession of the ball 94 feet away from the basket and just 2.5 seconds remaining, Valparaiso coach Homer Drew turned to his best player -- and his son -- Bryce Drew. On the inbound, the Crusaders ran a play called "Pacer." Jamie Sykes tossed a long baseball pass to Bill Jenkins, who caught the ball in mid air and immediately advanced the ball to Drew. Drew stroked the game-winning three, then took a celebratory dive across the court before his teammates piled on top of him.
Princeton shows UCLA the backdoor
Year after year, Pete Carril's Tigers flirted with shocking tourney upsets, only to fall just short. Finally, Princeton got it done -- and against the defending national champion, no less. Carril's crew amazingly shut out UCLA over the final six minutes, setting up the perfect Princeton game-winner: a backdoor layup. The 43-41 win was the final victory in Carril's outstanding career, as the coach retired following this NCAA tournament.
Tyus Edney's mad dash
Trailing Missouri 74-73 with just 4.8 seconds left, national title favorite UCLA was on the verge of a second-round exit. Luckily, Tyus Edney was in the house. Edney took the ball out of bounds and furiously dribbled the entire length of the court -- weaving in and out of Missouri players in the process -- eventually heading right to the rack. As Edney entered the Missouri key, Tigers forward Derek Grimm slid over to contest the shot. But Edney adjusted in mid air and banked in a shot at the buzzer. UCLA went on to win the national title.
Scotty Thurman's moon shot
Duke held a 10-point second-half lead over Arkansas, but the Hogs clawed back into the game. With the score tied at 70 apiece and 40 seconds left, Arkansas' Scotty Thurman lofted a high-arching three-pointer over 6-foot-8 Blue Devil Antonio Lang with one second on the shot clock. The looping shot was good and the Hogs went on to win the game 76-72 for the school's first national title.
Chris Webber's timeout
The Fab Five is unquestionably one of the most influential units in college basketball history. Ironically, the talented Wolverines will always be remembered for an epic miscue. Chris Webber corralled a rebound with under 20 seconds left and Michigan trailing North Carolina 73-71. After appearing to travel, Webber dribbled the ball the length of the court before getting trapped right in front of the Michigan bench. The All-American instinctively called a timeout. Unfortunately, Michigan had none remaining. The Wolverines were assessed a technical foul and the Tar Heels went on to win 77-71.
One of the greatest games in basketball history ended fittingly with one of the most memorable plays in American sports history. With Duke trailing 103-102 and 2.1 seconds left in overtime, Grant Hill tossed a perfect baseball pass to Christian Laettner, who took one dribble and launched a turnaround jumper as the buzzer sounded. The shot swished through the net and pandemonium ensued. The astounding shot capped off a perfect game by Laettner, who hit all 10 of his field-goal attempts and all 10 of his free throws.
Things looked pretty bleak for Georgia Tech in its second-round matchup against No. 2 seed USC, as the Yellow Jackets trailed the Trojans 78-76 with just 0.8 seconds left. Taking the ball out of bounds at midcourt, Georgia Tech's Matt Geiger couldn't find anyone to throw the ball into. Just as he was about to get whistled for a five-second call, he tossed it into James Forest. In one motion, Forest turned around and chucked a desperation three pointer. The ball perfectly swished through the net -- Forest's first made three of the season. Al McGuire, the game's television announcer, provided one of the most memorable sound bites in tourney history, repeatedly screaming "Holy mackerel!"
Duke denies UNLV's perfection
The Runnin' Rebels absolutely embarrassed Duke in the 1990 national title game, beating the Blue Devils 103-73, and UNLV entered the 1991 national semifinal with a perfect 34-0 record (and 45-game winning streak). Duke earned sweet redemption by shocking the Rebels 79-77 in the national semifinal. In a fabulous bout that featured 17 ties and 25 lead changes, Christian Laettner scored the Blue Devils' winning points by draining two free throws with 12.7 seconds left. Duke went on to beat Kansas in the title game.
Richmond makes history
The Spiders became the first No. 15 seed to ever win an NCAA tournament game, knocking off No. 2 seed Syracuse 73-69. Richmond grabbed an early lead and never trailed in the game. Since then, three other 15 seeds have posted first-round victories.
Led by the "Duo of Doom" (Elden Campbell and Dale Davis), Clemson had No. 1 seed UConn on the ropes, holding a 70-69 edge with just one second remaining. Scott Burrell inbounded the ball from the baseline and threw a perfect strike almost the entire length of the court to Tate George. George caught the ball and tossed up a 17-foot turnaround jumper in traffic that found the bottom of the net. UConn players, cheerleaders and some fans immediately stormed the court in a magical scene.
For you, Hank
In the 1989-90 season, there was no team more exciting to watch than Loyola-Marymount, with their fast-paced offense (which averaged 122 points per game) and pressing defense. Hank Gathers, who had led the nation in scoring (32.7 ppg) and rebounding (13.7 rpg) during the '88-89 season, was a key cog for the Lions. But during a conference tournament game against Portland in early March, Gathers collapsed on the court and eventually died. Playing with heavy hearts, LMU made a magical tourney run to the Elite Eight. During the run, Lions star Bo Kimble (who is right-handed) shot his first free throw of each game left-handed -- a tribute to his fallen teammate.
Cool Hand Rumeal
With three seconds left in overtime and Michigan trailing Seton Hall by one point, Wolverines guard Rumeal Robinson stepped to the free-throw line for a one-and-one. Just a 65.6 percent free-throw shooter, Robinson calmly converted both shots, giving the Wolverines a national championship. Michigan's title run as a whole was pretty shocking. Just prior to the tourney, Michigan AD Bo Schembechler fired coach Bill Frieder, who had announced he would be leaving for Arizona State at season's end. Schembechler wanted a "Michigan man" to coach the Wolverines, and he handed the keys to top assistant Steve Fisher.
On a loaded Indiana team, Keith Smart was the team's forgotten fifth-leading scorer at 11.2 points per game. But Smart came up big in the national title game against Syracuse, posting 21 points, including a game-winning baseline jumper with five seconds left. Indiana wanted All-American Steve Alford to take the final shot, but the Orange defense had him blanketed. "I wasn't surprised I got the ball," Smart told USA Today. "I was surprised it went in."
'Nova can't miss
The NCAA tournament increased to 64 teams back in 1985. Here are the most memorable moments since the expansion. The first 64-team tournament provided one of the greatest upsets in sports history. Rollie Massimino's Villanova team entered the national title game as a heavy underdog to Patrick Ewing and the Hoyas. But the Wildcats concluded their Cinderella story with an otherworldly shooting performance, converting 78.6 percent from the field. To this day, the eighth-seeded Cats remain the lowest seed ever to win an NCAA tournament.