Hawaii, Yale win first tournament games in program history
This year, both the 13th-seeded Rainbow Warriors and the 12th-seeded Bulldogs won their first ever tournament games. Yale defeated the fifth-seeded Baylor Bears 79–75, and Hawaii upset the fourth-seeded California Golden Bears 77–66. These were just two of the 10 double-digit seeds to win their first-round games. While Hawaii’s Quincy Smith said he had the Warriors winning in his bracket, these teams broke brackets and barriers with their victories.
2 of 10Tom Pennington/Getty Images
Northern Iowa sends Texas home with half-court heave at the buzzer
Most of us have dreamed of sinking a game-winning buzzer-beater, but only a select few have achieved that goal. Paul Jesperson of 11th-seeded Northern Iowa turned the dream into a reality as he banked in a half-court shot at the buzzer to beat sixth-seeded Texas and advance to the Round of 32. Some called Jesperson’s heave, his fourth three-pointer of the night, the best game-winning shot of all time.
3 of 10Justin Edmonds/Getty Images
Josh Hagins leads Arkansas-Little Rock late comeback over Purdue
With five minutes to go in regulation, the No. 12 seed Arkansas-Little Rock Trojans trailed the No. 5 seed Purdue Boilermakers by 14. This was before Little Rock guard Josh Hagins scored 16 of his 31 points in the final 90 seconds of regulation and two overtimes. In that time he also had two of his six assists while scoring 10 of the Trojans’ 15 overtime points. He scored a game-tying three-pointer for Arkansas-Little Rock as the clock showed five seconds to go in regulation, and he hit a game-tying layup with 18 seconds to go in OT. He also hit the go-ahead jumper in the second overtime.
4 of 10Jamie Squire/Getty Images
Koenig drains winning three from the corner as the buzzer sounds
Wisconsin’s Bronson Koenig sank two threes in the final 14 seconds of his team’s win over Xavier, including the game-winner with less than one tick left on the clock! After struggling to score in the Big Ten tournament and putting up only two points in the first round, Koenig hit six threes and had 20 points in the Badgers’ win over Xavier. Koenig hit the game-winner while falling out-of-bounds due to the tough-all-night defense of Xavier guard Remy Abell, who could only quietly explain this one second of madness by saying, “Great defense. Better offense.”
Freshman Rex Pflueger had averaged 2.3 points per game this season and played only 14 minutes in Notre Dame’s Round of 32 win against No. 14 seed Stephen F. Austin. Yet he tipped in the game-winner to help the Fighting Irish hold off the underdog Lumberjacks. Until that moment, Pflueger hadn’t scored a bucket since March 5. Coaches across the country will surely use Pflueger's play to illustrate the importance of crashing the boards.
6 of 10Ronald Martinez/Getty Images
Aggies make historic comeback that leads to double-overtime victory
It was called the greatest comeback ever! It was the largest last-minute comeback in March Madness history! With 44 seconds to go in regulation, No. 3 seed Texas A&M was trailing 11th-seeded Northern Iowa by 12. In the final 44 seconds of regulation, the Aggies scored 14 of their 39 second-half points and forced four Panther turnovers. Texas A&M guard Danuel House scored 16 of his 22 points in those 44 seconds and in the two overtime periods. If you don’t know about this comeback, FIND OUT, because this just may be the most unbelievable comeback in college hoops history, and it’s hard to explain with only words.
7 of 10Jamie Squire/Getty Images
Lydon’s block secures Elite Eight bid for Syracuse
With 22 seconds to go, Michael Gbinije followed his own miss with a layup to put Syracuse up by one over Gonzaga. Later, with four seconds to go, Zags guard Josh Perkins drove and put up a floater to win, but it was rejected by Syracuse forward Tyler Lydon, who already had five blocks that day. Syracuse won 63–60 and moved on to the Elite Eight despite giving up a combined 42 points to Gonzaga’s Kyle Wiltjer and Domantas Sabonis.
8 of 10Jamie Squire/Getty Images
Orange squeeze Cavaliers with 47 second-half points
Syracuse, a team some felt didn’t belong in the tournament, rallied in the second half to take out No. 1 seed Virginia and make the Final Four. The Orange became just the fourth double-digit seed in history to advance to the Final Four, though they spent most of the game trailing the Cavaliers by double digits themselves. Syracuse was down 14 at halftime and by as many as 16 before outscoring Virginia by 20 in the second half. Momentum swung over to Syracuse when the Orange instituted a timely press that rattled Virginia’s offensive rhythm and sparked a fire in Syracuse guard Malachi Richardson, who scored 21 of his 23 points in the second half.
9 of 10Scott Halleran/Getty Images
North Carolina’s Paige hits acrobatic shot to tie the game
After two Final Four blowouts sent UNC and Villanova to the championship, these teams with upperclassmen-filled rosters showed skill under pressure in a close, well-played game. The Tar Heels led most of the way until the Wildcats’ ball pressure created scoring opportunities. Villanova was then able to build a 10-point lead late in the game. The skill and persistence of both teams made it clear this championship would come down to the wire, and with UNC trailing by three with just 4.7 seconds left, UNC guard Marcus Paige sank an off-balance, scissor-split three-pointer over Ryan Arcidiacono to send the game into overtime...
10 of 10Ronald Martinez/Getty Images
Villanova’s Jenkins makes the shot we (really) all dream of
...except that no one told Villanova. Wildcats coach Jay Wright later told broadcaster Jim Nantz that in the huddle with 4.7 ticks left they set up their end-of-game play, which was to get the ball to guard Ryan Arcidiacono and have him make the best decision. Wright said, “Kris [Jenkins] told him he was going to be open. Arch made the perfect pass, and Kris Jenkins lives for that moment.” Then it happened, just like they practiced. Arch had 16 points and two assists, and Jenkins had 14 points in the game. Yet one unselfish pass and one pressure-defying basket with less than one second remaining turned this fairy tale into One Shining Moment for the history books. Villanova senior forward Daniel Ochefu summed it up while holding the trophy: “Dreams have come true tonight.” Sweet dreams, Villanova Wildcats. Sweet dreams.
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