Lifestyle March, 21 2014

The 20 Most Memorable Moments in March Madness History

Began in 1939 at the behest of Ohio State University coach Harold Olsen, the NCAA Men’s Division I Basketball Championship, otherwise known as March Madness or the Big Dance, has gone on to become one of the U.S.’s most popular annual sporting events, with millions of fans tuning in to the series and filling out their own brackets. To celebrate this year’s iteration, we take a look back at the tournament’s 20 most memorable moments.

20. John Wooden’s Last Hurra (1975)

We begin our ranking by honoring the great John Wooden and his 10th and final title as the head coach of the storied UCLA Bruins. UCLA needed an overtime buzzer-beater by Richard Washington to advance to the title game. After the game, Wooden announced his retirement and his team won the title for their coach and legend in a 92-85 victory over Kentucky.

Watch it here.

19. Butler Loses Close Heartbreaker To Duke (2010)

It was so close. Despite a rather ugly game, the upset-happy Butler Bulldogs almost clinched the victory over the Blue Devils, thanks to future NBA players Gordon Hayward and Shelvin Mack. Under the wisdom of Celtics coach Brad Stevens, the team won upset after upset on their way to the title against Syracuse, Kansas State and Michigan State, just to fall short on a Hail Mary by Hayward that was just an inch short.

Watch it here.

18. Richmond Beats Syracuse in Historic Upset (1991)

It sure wasn’t a title game but the Richmond Spiders did something that hasn’t been done for a very long time in the tourney. Coming in as the 15th seed after losing their final game before the tournament, the Spiders used the “nobody believes in us” theory to their advantage, jumped on the Orangemen early and never looked back. It was the biggest upset in March Madness history.

Watch it here.

17. Connecticut Tops Washington On Rip’s Buzzer Beater (1998)

It would have been a great story to see the 11th-seeded Washington beat UConn thanks to a one-point lead in the final seconds of the game. But as basketball always teaches us, if you can’t control the rebound, you’ll lose the game. And so it was the great Richard Hamilton’s shot, who used several offensive rebounds from his teammates to send a prayer over the outstretched arms of Washington’s center Todd MacCulloch, that went in and won the game.

Watch it here.

16. Edney’s Game-Winner Lifts UCLA Over Missouri (1995)

It would have been one of the biggest upsets in the history of March Madness but senior guard Tyus Edney made sure that his Bruins did not fall victim to the Tigers. The tiny point man had his shining moment as he took the ball from coast to coast and banked in a runner over Missouri forward Derek Grimm at the buzzer. This shot made the title win possible for UCLA.

Watch it here.

15. Chris Webber’s Timeout (1993)

One of the sadder moments in March Madness history, few other teams were as talented as Michigan’s Fab Five comprised of Webber, Jalen Rose, Juwan Howard, Jimmy King and Ray Jackson. After losing the national championship game the year before, the Wolverines were right back in it. In a close and hard-fought match against North Carolina, Webber became the tragic figure of the night as he mistakenly called a timeout without his team having any left. Michigan was called for a technical foul and lost the title game against the Tar Heels.

Watch it here.

14. George Mason’s Historic Run to the Final Four (2006)

Back on the happy side of the tournament as the Patriots beat three major programs on their way to the Final Four. George Mason beat Michigan State, North Carolina and Connecticut and became just the second 11th seed in the history of NCAA basketball to reach the Final Four.

Watch it here.

13. The Legend of the Shot (1987)

Indiana’s Keith Smart wasn’t blessed with a long professional career, however, he became a legend that year. Despite not being one of the go-to guys on the Hoosiers, Smart made a tough baseline jumper in the waining seconds of the title game with a one-point deficit to beat Syracuse and bring Indiana its fifth national title.

Watch it here.

12. Magic vs. Bird (1979)

It was the first matchup of Magic Johnson and Larry Bird before they became two of the biggest stars in NBA history. In that season, Bird was named National Player of the Year and led his Sycamores to a 33-0 record. In one of the most watched college games in history, Magic, however, prevailed with an MVP performance (24 points, seven boards and five assists) to win the title for his Spartans. This game was the beginning of a fierce rivalry and close friendship.

Watch it here.

11. NC State Ends Bruins’ Run (1974)

Until 1974, UCLA had won seven national titles. The game versus NC State was also the matchup of the two greats, Bill Walton and David Thompson, who fought a hard battle through two overtimes. The deciding factor was 5’7’’ Monte Towe who sank his free throws to give NC State the 80-77 upset win.

Watch it here.

10. Mile-High Drama (1996)

This Sweet 16 game was one of the most memorable and close of the last few decades. Georgia upset No. 1 seed Purdue to reach the round of  16 and gave the Orangemen a handful in front of a rousing Denver crowd. The game went to overtime and saw the Bulldogs in the lead after a three-pointer by Shandon Anderson. In the last few seconds of overtime, however, John Wallace sunk a three to win the game for Jim Boeheim’s team.

Watch it here.

9. Rumeal Robinson as the Unlikely Hero (1989)

Rumeal Robinson became the unlikely hero in the ’89 championship game as he overcame his season-long struggle from the free throw line (.656 percentage) and sank both of his freebies with three seconds left in overtime to bring the Wolverines their first national title.

Watch it here.

8. Duke’s Payback Time (1991)

It was sweet revenge for the Duke Blue Devils one year after losing against Larry Johnson and the Rebels in the title game by 30 points. Christian Laettner made sure victory was on their side this time as the forward drained both of his free throws to seal a 79-77 victory over the reigning national champions.

Watch it here.

7. From Coast-To-Coast Winner (1981)

It was one of Danny Ainge’s most memorable performances. The soon-to-be Celtic took an inbound pass with eight seconds to go and a one-point deficit over the length of the full court. On his way, he sliced through the entire Notre Dame defense to lay in the ball for the win. He was able to leave future NBA players John Paxson, Kelly Tripucka and Orlando Woolridge behind him and willed his Cougars over the finish line in the Sweet 16.

Watch it here.

6. Big Bill Walton’s Memorable Game

Bill Walton’s career was filled with titles but, unfortunately, with a lot of injuries too. During his college career, Walton delivered one of the most dominant performances in the history of the tournament with 44 points and 13 rebounds. He was one field goal shy of a perfect percentage and chewed up his opponents on the inside. Walton’s epic game still ranks as one of the best performances of all time.

Watch it here.

5. Basketball History was Made (1966)

Texas Western doesn’t really exist anymore. Now being UTEP, the team made history in the 1965-66 regular season by finishing at 23-1 with the nation’s No. 3 ranking and by having five African-American players start for the first time in a title game against Adolph Rupp’s all-white team. It was a move by coach Don Haskins that proved to be more than just culturally significant, as Haskins’ team went on to upset the Wildcats and win the tournament in shocking fashion.

Watch it here.

4. Loyola Marymount’s Tribute to a Tragic Death (1990)

Reaching the Elite Eight was a special performance in light of the tragic death of Loyola Marymount’s Hank Gathers who died on the court during the 1990 WCC tournament. Despite being the 11th seed, the Lions honored their teammate and played four tournament games. The most memorable tribute came from Gathers’ best friend Bo Kimble. During all four games, the right-handed Kimble shot his first free throw with his left hand, in memory to his late friend who was a lefty. The icing on the cake? Kimble made all of his left-handed free throws.

Watch it here.

3. Christian Laettner’s Second Game-Winning Performance (1992)

It is still regarded as the best game in March Madness history. With 2.1 seconds to play in overtime, Grant Hill found Christian Laettner with a long inbound pass who turned around, faded away and drained the free throw line jumper to seal the win for the Blue Devils.

Watch it here.

2. The Biggest Upset in March Madness History (1983)

Jim Valvano was in disbelief after his team beat the Phi Slama Jama in the national title game. It’s been 31 years since Lorenzo Charles dunked the winner at the buzzer and it still remains college basketball’s most memorable moment. It wasn’t just that it gave the Wolfpack their second national title. Better yet, it came against a squad that boasted a 31–2 record and a 26-game winning streak that season and was expected to easily defeat its underdog opponent.

Watch it here.

1. The Beginnings of the Greatest of All Time (1982)

The start of the Air Jordan era was mostly a matchup between James Worthy and Patrick Ewing as both college stars went at each other over the stretch of the game. The last few seconds, however, were the first in what would be so many games in which Michael Jordan would take the game-winning shot. Even though he was just a freshman who scored 14 points in the title game, he was still in the back seat compared to Worthy. With the game on the line, Jordan pulled up for his iconic jump shot and drained the 17-footer to win the title. Who knew back then what he would accomplish in his career.

Watch it here.


Written by Robert Jerzy for Highsnobiety.com