Top 10 Men's College Basketball Tournament Moments
What are the most popular college basketball tournament moments?
- #16 UMBC Beats #1 Virginia
- Kris Jenkins Wins Villanova a Championship
- The Timeout
- The Christian Laettner Shot
- Gordon Hayward Almost Fulfills the Cinderella Story For Butler
- Mario Chalmers Sends the National Championship Game to Overtime
- MJ’s Game Winner
- The Beginning of a Storied Rivalry
- Jimmy V’s One Shining Moment
- Texas Western Fights Racism
1. #16 UMBC Beats #1 Virginia
Before March 16, 2018, no 16-seeded team had beaten their 1-seeded foe in the NCAA tournament. When UMBC beat Virginia 74-54, the Retrievers made history with its program’s first tournament win and the first time a 16 seed beat a 1 seed. It is the ultimate Cinderella story. Going into the first round game, the Cavaliers were 31-2 and won the ACC. On the other hand, UMBC came into the game 24-10 and only made the tournament by gaining an auto-bid by winning the American East Conference Tournament. The Retrievers completely dismantled the Cavaliers all game, dominating from the start.
2. Kris Jenkins Wins Villanova a Championship
Buzzer-beaters are some of the most exciting moments in sports. Every kid dreams of winning a championship by making a shot with time expiring. In April 2016, Kris Jenkins lived that dream when he hit a buzzer-beater from far beyond the three-point line to beat the North Carolina Tar Heels 77-74 and brought Villanova its first championship since 1985. The moment almost belonged to Marcus Paige, who hit an amazing three to tie the game at 74 with 4.3 seconds remaining, but it was Jenkins who will be remembered for his historic shot.
3. The Timeout
During the 1992-93 season Michigan had one of the most talented rosters ever, known as the “Fab Five.” Led by Chris Webber, Jalen Rose, Juwan Howard, Jimmy King, and Ray Jackson, Michigan became the first team in history to make the championship with all-freshmen starters the year prior. After losing the championship, Michigan returned back again with the same starting cast looking for vengeance. During the National Championship that year against North Carolina, one of the most infamous moments in basketball history occurred. Losing by two points with 11 seconds remaining, Chris Webber of the Wolverines took the ball up the court and called a timeout. The issue was that the Wolverines had already used all of their timeouts, causing a technical foul and allowing the Tar Heels to close out a National Championship.
4. The Christian Laettner Shot
Christian Laettner is an example of a highly talented college basketball player who was hated simply because he played for the Duke Blue Devils. He is also responsible for one of the most iconic shots in NCAA Basketball history. In the 1992 NCAA Tournament, Duke found themselves in an overtime nailbiter against Kentucky during their Elite Eight matchup. Trailing by one point with two seconds remaining, the Blue Devils needed a miracle to save their season. Grant Hill heaved the ball down the court to Laettner, who hit a buzzer-beater jump shot to send the Blue Devils to the Final Four. This moment proved important as Duke went on to win the National Championship. Laettner’s game-winner is so well-known, it is referred to as “The Shot” today.
5. Gordon Hayward Almost Fulfills the Cinderella Story For Butler
The most enthralling part of the NCAA Tournament is watching the mid-level teams play at an extremely high level to pull themselves along against higher-ranked programs. Most of the time, though, they are unsuccessful and the team is brought back to reality. The fifth-seeded Butler Bulldogs looked off as they tried to keep up with the Duke Blue Devils all game, but ended up trailing 61-59 with only a few seconds on the clock. The Bulldogs’ star player, Gordon Hayward, got a decent look from half-court and chucked the ball at the hoop. The ball bounced against the backboard and clanked off the rim, inches from becoming the greatest shot in the tournament’s history. The Blue Devils won and revealed the tragic fate of most Cinderella stories in March Madness.
6. Mario Chalmers Sends The National Championship Game to Overtime
Sometimes an amazing moment does not have to end the game, but rather continue it. The 2008 National Championship Game proved this point when Mario Chalmers hit a game-extending three point shot, taking advantage of Memphis’ shaky free throw shooting down the stretch. Down 63-60 to Memphis with time running out, Mario Chalmers of the Kansas Jayhawks hit a miracle shot over Derrick Rose to send the game to overtime. Kansas then destroyed Memphis in overtime, outscoring them 12-5 en route to a National Championship.
7. MJ’s Game Winner
Michael Jordan had a career full of iconic moments, but the first time Jordan flexed his clutch gene was during the 1982 National Championship Game where MJ’s North Carolina Tar Heels faced off against the Georgetown Hoyas. With under 30 seconds left, the Tar Heels were trailing 62-61. Even as a freshman Jordan was tasked with taking the game-deciding shot, and he sank a mid-range jumper with 17 seconds remaining to give the Tar Heels a lead they would never lose. This shot kicked off one of the greatest basketball careers in the history of the sport.
8. The Beginning of a Storied Rivalry
Magic Johnson and Larry Bird are two of the most well known basketball players in history. Their talent on the court became must-see TV and helped the sport’s popularity increase rapidly. Both players dominated throughout the 1979 NCAA Tournament and helped bring their teams to the National Championship. Led by Bird, the Indiana State Sycamores made the big game with an undefeated record. They did not have an easy task ahead of them as they faced the Michigan State Spartans, led by Johnson. This National Championship became the most anticipated of all time and shattered previous viewership records with 35.1 Million total viewers. Michigan State was crowned the champion as they won the game 75-64. Since then, Johnson and Bird’s success in the NBA only increased the legacy of this game. To this date, it is still the highest watched college basketball game in history.
9. Jimmy V’s One Shining Moment
Tasked with beating a stacked Houston team known as “Phi Slama Jama,” which included Hakeem Olajuwon and Clyde Drexler, Jim Valvano had his work cut out for him if he wanted to lead the North Carolina State Wolf Pack to glory in the 1983 National Championship Game. The two teams played a close, defensive game which led to a 52-52 tie in the last seconds with the Wolf Pack in possession. After a long-range three missed the basket entirely, Lorenzo Charles caught the ball and dunked it to give the Wolf Pack the National Championship.
10. Texas Western Fights Racism
Texas Western took on the University of Kentucky in the 1966 National Championship Game, during the middle of the Civil Rights Movement. Texas Western consisted of all-black starting five players, becoming the first college to do so. Their opponents, the Kentucky Wildcats, consisted of an all-white starting five. Despite being a sporting event, this game meant much more than winning a championship. Kentucky was an overwhelming favorite and it seemed obvious they would take home the trophy. Texas Western shocked the world by winning the game 72-65, making a statement about African American athletes. This championship made people think deeper about the push for equality in America, along with transcending basketball to be an inclusive sport for all.