Our 64 favorite moments from the NCAA Tournament
On a day the real fun typically begins, the brackets are empty, the gyms silent.
There will be no March Madness in 2020, no more legend-making buzzer-beaters or 1st-round shockers, but thank goodness, we still have shining moments from tournaments past.
In no particular order, our SDS staff compiled 64 of their favorite or most memorable NCAA Tournament moments. Several are behind-the-scene moments. Some are personal. Many are tied to where we grew up. Share your favorites in the comments.
64. The Laettner shot or, as I’d prefer, the Sean Woods shot before it
Let’s just get it out of the way, quickly, OK? Lost in the haze (oddly, I initially typed that word as “hate”) of the moment with Christian Laettner’s dagger to UK in the 1992 regional final is that UK guard Sean Woods hit a top-10 all-time shot 2.1 seconds before it to ALMOST send UK to the most improbable Final Four in school history. Nobody remembers it, but they should. — Joe Cox
63. Hey, Joe, Laettner traveled …
Forget the fact Laettner should have been ejected earlier. I’m never not going to believe his pivot foot didn’t move before he dribbled. Focus on the left foot and see for yourself. Even if he didn’t — he did — he still should have been kicked out earlier. — Chris Wright
62. Dickie V’s epic rants against Selection committee …
Every year, somebody gets snubbed. And every year, Dickie V delivers an impassioned argument on their behalf, as if he were their coach. It’s an annual exercise, but one I look forward to. Just one example among dozens … — Chris Wright
61. Ali Farokhmanesh sinks Kansas
Yes, Northern Iowa was already up 1 on Kansas when Ali Farokhmanesh hit the iconic shot, but to use a phrase Bill Raftery would appreciate, it still took a lot of “onions” for him to launch that 3-pointer:
Any time Kansas loses before the Sweet 16 it’s, well, sweet. Farokhmanesh is a legend in my book. — Adam Spencer
60. George Mason upsets UConn in 2006 Elite 8
Cinderella? Absolutely, but there was no bigger fish to fry than the Huskies, who seemed destined for a national title until the Patriot League’s finest came rolling in. — Connor O’Gara
59. Ron Hunter falls off his stool after his son knocks off Baylor in 2015
Maybe it’s a dad thing. But it’s a March Madness upset, and a dad who is there coaching on a stool with a bum leg… who gets so into his son’s big moment that he falls off the stool and has to be helped up. Always makes me laugh and then puts a lump in my throat. — Joe Cox
58. Illinois’ comeback takes down Arizona in 2005 Elite 8
Living in the state of Illinois, everyone was rooting for that team to go all the way. Dee Brown, Deron Williams and Luther Head made up such an incredible collection of talent, and it looked like they were about to suffer a stunning loss in their own backyard against Arizona. But they erased a 15-point deficit in the final 4 minutes and pulled off one of the best late-game turnarounds I’ve ever seen in 30 years of watching sports. — Connor O’Gara
57. Watching UNC take down the Big Ten in 2005
Indiana loves its basketball. Nobody plays it better, coaches it better, knows it better. OK, Knight … Imagine how much fun I had in 2005, the resident ACC guy in the middle of Big Ten country, listening to this nonsense yet telling everybody within earshot that UNC was going to win it all. The fact the Tar Heels went through the heart of the Big Ten — Wisconsin (Elite 8), Michigan State (Final Four) and Illinois (title game) — made it all the sweeter. — Chris Wright
56. Princeton over UCLA, 1996
We all love David and Goliath. We all also love having David in our bracket. This is my game for that scenario. Pete Carril is running around looking like a disheveled Yoda and I’m yelling, “I CALLED THAT!” — Joe Cox
55. Bryce Drew’s 3-pointer at the buzzer
Grant Hill’s pass to Laettner was pretty solid, but as every Kentucky fan knows, nobody guarded the ball, Pawwwllll!
Ole Miss guarded the ball, but Valpo’s designed play was next-level unbelievable. — Chris Wright
54. Northern Iowa stuns Kansas in 2010 Round of 32
Adam touched on it, but it’s one of my favorites as well. Ali Farokhmanesh will forever be a March legend, and “Farokhmanesh” probably always be a swear word in Kansas. — Connor O’Gara
53. Florida Gulf Coast dunks on everyone in 2013
That 2013 NCAA Tournament was electric those first 2 rounds thanks to 15-seed (!) FGCU, which became the 1st No. 15 seed to reach the Sweet 16 and, perhaps more important, it created one of the best YouTube videos of all time. — Connor O’Gara
52. Morehead State over Louisville, 2011
If you’ve ever worked in an office during an NCAA Tournament, there’s a special spot on your list for your boss’s favorite team getting upset in heartbreaking-fashion in the first round. Even if “GET BACK TO WORK” was all we heard for the rest of the day. — Joe Cox
51. Drew Nicholas’ fallaway 3-pointer for the ages
Yes, it was a Round of 64 game. No, it didn’t win a national title like Maryland did the previous year. But Drew Nicholas drilling that fallaway 3-pointer to beat UNC Wilmington was something I’ll never forget. It’s an underrated NCAA Tournament buzzer-beater that’s up there with Bryce Drew’s. — Connor O’Gara
50. Hello, Admiral
The NCAA Tournament expanded to 64 teams in 1985. It didn’t take long to register the 1st huge upset.
David Robinson, Navy’s 7-foot center, delivered the 1st of several memorable NCAA Tournament performances when he led No. 13 seed Navy past No. 4 LSU in the opening round.
A year later, Robinson led Navy to the Elite 8.
His signature moment came as a senior in 1987, when he dropped 50 against Michigan in his final college game. — Chris Wright
49. Mario Chalmers’ 3-pointer heard round the globe
Kansas was down 3 with 2.1 seconds left when Chalmers let it fly in the 2008 national title game.
No, it didn’t win the national championship. It forced OT, where the Jayhawks eventually outlasted Memphis (and coach John Calipari) for the national crown — the Jayhawks’ most recent title. No wonder his phone still rings every time somebody hits a huge shot. — Chris Wright
48. Georgetown’s Michael Graham — the scariest man on Earth
The Big East in the 1980s was no place for punks. No program in America was more intimidating than Big John Thompson’s Georgetown Hoyas.
They embraced their bad-boy reputation all the way to the 1984 national title. Patrick Ewing was the shot-swatting, rim-rattling star, but Michael Graham was the bodyguard upon whom you did not tread.
“There’s such a thing as being physical,” Dayton guard Sedric Toney said after being run over in their Elite 8 encounter, “but he comes down and tries to hurt you.”
When I think of Big East basketball in the 1980s, Graham is the poster child. — Chris Wright
47. No. 15-seed Lehigh sends Duke home in 2012
How many people did C.J. McCollum make celebrate like they had just won a national championship? Thousands? At least. Watching Duke fall to a No. 15-seed is something you don’t see every day. — Connor O’Gara
46. Correct, Duke lost to No. 14 seed Mercer in 2014 …
This might have been even more painful as it occurred in Raleigh, just 22 miles from Duke’s campus. I was there but can’t remember if the place was packed. I do remember every corner of the building except Duke fans cheering for Mercer. — Chris Wright
45. Texas A&M’s stunning 12-point comeback in 45 seconds to beat Northern Iowa
If you love math and you love basketball, you find yourself dreaming of these games. Just a 3, a steal, a 3, a stop, another 3 … well, it happened in one glorious, mistake-fueled run in 2017. Insane. — Joe Cox
44. David Thompson takes down mighty UCLA
Few remember this, but N.C. State went undefeated in 1972-73 under Norm Sloan. The Wolfpack were on probation, however, and banned from the postseason. UCLA won its 7th consecutive NCAA championship that season.
Early in the 1973-74 season, the Wolfpack finally met Bill Walton and UCLA. The Bruins won, ending the Wolfpack’s 29-game winning streak.
They gained revenge in March in the Final Four, ending the Bruins’ dynasty with an 80-77 victory in double overtime. Thompson scored 28 and registered one of the most iconic blocks in NCAA history. Thompson was just 6-4.
So significant was that victory that few even remember the Pack still had beat Marquette in the national title game, which they did, 76-64.
Consider it basketball’s version of the Miracle on Ice. — Chris Wright
43. Chris Chiozza beats Wisconsin, Sweet 16, 2017
In an epic, back and forth Sweet 16 game at Madison Square Garden between two of the premier programs of the last decade, Florida blew a big lead, erased a late deficit to force overtime, and then appeared as if it would come up just short in the extra period. During Florida’s excellent regular season, Mike White had traditionally given the ball late in the game to speedy senior guard Kasey Hill.
This time, White drew up a play to get Chiozza the ball headed downhill. The rest is Gators’ history. — Neil Blackmon
42. South Carolina looks awful in 2017 SEC Tournament, then goes to Final Four
I was courtside when South Carolina went 1-and-done in the 2017 SEC Tournament with a brutal 64-53 loss to Alabama. I thought, “This team makes the NCAA, and they’re going to embarrass the SEC.” Well, that ended up not quite being the case. — Joe Cox
41. In honor of Jack Givens …
Givens scored 41 points to lead Kentucky past Duke in the 1978 NCAA title game. That’s still the most by an SEC player in the title game and third all-time. — Chris Wright
40. 40 minutes of hell …
Nolan Richardson offered no apologies. His full-court pressure would have started in the layup line had rules allowed. His 40-minutes of hell style paid off with the 1994 national title, a 76-72 victory over Duke in which the Hogs forced 23 turnovers. Grant Hill committed 9 of them. — Chris Wright
39. Aaron Harrison’s 2014 run
Few players in NCAA Tournament history have had a run of big buckets quite like Aaron Harrison’s big shots to knock off Louisville, Michigan, and Wisconsin en route to the 2014 NCAA title game. — Joe Cox
38. Taurean Prince goes viral for … rebounding?
Baylor suffered a stunning opening-round loss to Yale in 2016, but the more noteworthy moment happened in the postgame press conference. Prince, a Baylor forward, was asked how his team could get out-rebounded by Yale. His response was “um, you go up and grab the ball off the rim when it comes off, and then you grab it with 2 hands, you come down with it, and that’s considered a rebound.” He’s not wrong. — Connor O’Gara
37. Gus Johnson
Pick a game. Any game. With the dramatic pauses he has perfected: It. Does. Not. Matter. They’re. All. Great! — Chris Wright
36. A.J. Moye blocks Carlos Boozer
Go ask an Indiana fan about Moye’s block in the 2002 tourney. They’ll gush for hours. What Moye’s stuff of the Duke star in the Sweet 16 symbolized was a massive upset of the defending national champs. What it meant to Indiana fans was a sign that the program was capable of taking down anyone, which it almost did until running into Maryland in the national championship. — Connor O’Gara
35. Ja Morant … and guys like him
Most of the country had no idea who Ja Morant was until he started popping up on NBA Mock Drafts.
Then he nearly led Murray State to a classic 12-5 upset last year. — Chris Wright
34. Kentucky’s 1998 revenge comeback over Duke
UK trailed Duke by 18 midway through the 2nd half of the 1998 Regional Final. The result — 86-84 on Scott Padgett’s go-ahead 3 — was revenge served hot. — Joe Cox
33. Bird vs. Magic … the battle of No. 33s
Books have been written, commercials filmed, movies made. Ah, 1979, the season Larry Legend captured America’s attention, the year we all discovered Magic. I was 12 and flipping passes behind my head, sometimes even to teammates.
The highest-rated NCAA Tournament game of all-time tuned in to see if the Hick from French Lick could help Indiana State become the 1st undefeated champion since Indiana in 1976. Just watched the entire game again last night. — Chris Wright
32. NCAA Tournament expands to 32 teams … then 48, then 64, then 68
You can thank the ACC for this.
Back in the day, only conference champions were selected for the NCAA Tournament, which only had 25 teams as late as 1974.
In 1974, No. 1 N.C. State played No. 4 Maryland in the ACC Tournament Championship Game. Many have described it as the greatest game ever played. State survived in overtime to secure the lone automatic bid, but the real winner was America.
The NCAA almost immediately expanded the tournament to 32, allowing at-large teams like Maryland a chance to cut down the nets. The NCAA Tournament has only gotten better. So much of what we love about this tournament can be traced to this game and the decision to expand and allow Cinderella a chance. — Chris Wright
31. “The slipper still fits!”
Florida made the first of many extended NCAA Tournament runs under Billy Donovan in 1999, paced by senior guard Eddie Shannon, who was brilliant in the tournament’s opening two rounds.
A marvelous Sweet 16 game with an upstart program named Gonzaga followed in the Sweet 16, and Florida appeared to have the game won late when Casey Calvary flew over the back of Brent Wright — with no call — for what would be the winning follow up.
Gus Johnson’s call when the Zags advanced: “The Slipper Still Fits” — became a Gonzaga mantra. — Neil Blackmon
30. Steph Curry wasn’t good enough for the ACC? You sure?
Curry’s name began to circulate after he led Davidson to the 2007 NCAA Tournament.
By the time the 2008 event rolled around, he was a national star.
Unstoppable, too. He scored 40 against Gonzaga, 30 against No. 2 seed Georgetown and 33 against No. 3 seed Wisconsin to lead the No. 10 seed Wildcats to the Elite 8.
Eventual champ Kansas ended their run, but Curry still scored 25. — Chris Wright
29. Watching Kentucky-Louisville in Final Four and thanking Dean Smith that it wasn’t Carolina-Duke
Honestly, I don’t know how Wildcats and Cardinals fans survived an entire week’s worth of buildup to their 2012 Final Four date. Regular-season games are fun and all, but I can’t even imagine dealing with a loss in that situation. Fortunately, I was able to sit back and enjoy the game.
Fortunately for Kentucky fans, they still had the ultimate mic drop, even when Louisville won the national title a year later. — Chris Wright
28. UConn upsets Duke in 1999
Duke was the heavy favorite to win it all entering the tournament and the Blue Devils were never tested until the championship game, where they met up with a UConn team featuring a slender guard by the name of Rip Hamilton. Duke featured soon-to-be No. 1 overall pick Elton Brand, senior Trajan Langdon and future NBA draft picks William Avery, Corey Maggette and Shane Battier. It didn’t matter, the heavy underdog won it all in an epic title game showdown, 77–74. — Michael Bratton
27. John Thompson hugging Fred Brown
Michael Jordan had given UNC the lead in the 1982 final, but when Georgetown’s Fred Brown accidentally threw a pass to James Worthy, the Hoyas’ championship dreams were officially dashed.
What did Hoyas coach John Thompson do? He immediately found Brown … and hugged him.
“You’ve won more games than you’ve lost,” Thompson reminded him.
I’m reminded of that every time I see a college football coach go beserk over a missed field goal in the 2nd quarter of a September game. — Chris Wright
26. The 2010 Final Four
I was in Indy, and Butler’s historic run back home to the Final Four united that city in a way I’d never seen. Indiana is a state divided, but that week, Indiana fans, Purdue fans, Notre Dame fans … they were all Butler fans. — Chris Wright
25. Do it for Chuma
In the 2019 tournament, star Auburn F Chuma Okeke went down with a torn ACL in a Sweet 16 win over North Carolina. That prompted a teary Bruce Pearl interview and a hobbled Okeke advancing the Tigers on the bracket. The Tigers went on to make their first Final Four appearance ever, adopting the phrase “Do it for Chuma.”
Who doesn’t get chills when he showed up at the arena during the Elite 8 win over Kentucky?
That was a magical year for the Tigers, and one that won’t soon be forgotten in Auburn. — Adam Spencer
24. Talking to my dad after Virginia won it all
Both of us were born in Virginia, in Ralph’s hometown. He’s the most loyal Cavs fan I know. From Wally Walker to Ralph to a whole bunch of guys you don’t know, every year was going to be the year.
Last year, it finally was.
And now he gets to enjoy it another year. — Chris Wright
23. Keith Smart’s shot takes down Syracuse to win 1987 national championship
Was I alive for this? No, but let’s just say I’ve seen that baseline jumper more times than I can count. And the fact that it was my alma mater’s last national championship may/may not have but definitely did influence that selection. — Connor O’Gara
22. Billy Donovan’s coaching genius
The 2006-07 season was the first, in earnest, of the one-and-done era.
That freshman class was loaded. Kevin Durant went to Texas. Greg Oden, Mike Conley and others went to Ohio State. Ty Lawson and Wayne Ellington chose UNC. The NCAA Tournament was full of fresh faces.
Oden and Conley led OSU to the championship game, where the Buckeyes faced a veteran Florida team trying to defend its title.
All season, teams double-teamed Oden and dared the Buckeyes to shoot 3s. The Buckeyes made a bunch.
Donovan reversed course. He put long, athletic Corey Brewer at the top of the zone and allowed OSU to feed Oden. The big guy went off — 25 points — but the Buckeyes went cold. Struggling to escape Brewer’s shadow, they shot 4-for-23 from 3-point range.
Donovan’s defensive switch made all of the difference. — Chris Wright
21. Mike Miller’s buzzer-beater to beat Butler
The classic buzzer-beater as time expires. For whatever reason, this shot has always burned in my image as the classic NCAA Tournament finish. Probably because I never was much of a shooter, the only shots I’ve mine that typically go in rattle around the rim like this one. — Michael Bratton
20. Kemba Walker electrifies the 2011 NCAA Tournament
Few individual NCAA Tournament performances have been better than Walker’s. He was must-see TV because he always felt like he was on the verge of a big-time shot. As clutch as they come, Walker was like a college version of Allen Iverson. Just a stone-cold killer. — Connor O’Gara
19. An unforgettable encounter with John Wooden and Larry Bird
I was the basketball editor for the Indy Star. As part of our set up for the 2006 Final Four, we did a series on the Legends of Indiana basketball. John Wooden, Larry Bird, Oscar Robertson, George McGinnis, Steve Alford, Purdue sharpshooter Rick Mount, etc., etc. … the Hoosier State’s all-time, homegrown starting 5 is ridiculous.
I arranged a cover shoot for Bird and coach Wooden to promote the series. There were 4 of us in the room: The legends, our photographer and me. The respect and awe Bird showed Wooden was something I’ll never forget. After the shoot, coach Wooden looked up at Bird and said, “Larry, we sure had some fun times in Terre Haute, didn’t we?”
I laughed. First, nobody ever says that about Terre Haute, Indiana. But I also didn’t realize that long before Wooden built a dynasty at UCLA, long before Bird starred for the Sycamores, Wooden was a coach at Indiana State. — Chris Wright
18. VCU, first four to Final Four
When VCU managed to be the team to go from the First Four to the Final Four, a new era of parity hit the sport of college basketball. Long gone are the days of dominant, year-in and year-out national powers thanks to most of the elite prospects jumping to the NBA in a year, or two at the most. It’s debatable how good that is for the sport but it clearly opened the door for historic Cindellera runs like VCU’s back in 2011. — Michael Bratton
17. Jordan’s jumper
We knew. We heard stories of the freshman from Wilmington dunking on All-Americans James Worthy and Sam Perkins during summer pickup games, months before the 1981-82 season even started.
After Michael Jordan launched his jumper with 17 seconds left against Georgetown to give Dean Smith his first NCAA championship, the secret was out — and a legend was born. — Chris Wright
16. UMBC does the unthinkable
Ever since the tournament expanded to 64 teams, we’ve been reminded that a No. 16 seed had never defeated a No. 1 seed.
And every year, somebody would always remind us … one of these days …
That day came in 2018, when UMBC stunned No. 1 seed Virginia. It wasn’t even close, either.
Tied at the break, UMBC opened the 2nd-half on an unforgettable 20-6 run and cruised to a 20-point victory. — Chris Wright
15. Wa-hooo! Sweet redemption
Virginia didn’t run and hide from its most humiliating moment since Chaminade. Tony Bennett demanded that the Cavaliers own their failure — and learn from it.
They did. And how. UVA survived 4 consecutive scares — including 2 in OT — to capture the 2019 NCAA championship. — Chris Wright
14. Mouse McFadden and mighty Cleveland State
In 1986, Cleveland State became the 1st No. 14 seed to make the Sweet 16. They started the run by knocking off Bob Knight and No. 3 Indiana. — Chris Wright
13. Gators smash George Mason’s slipper, Final Four, 2006
George Mason made an inspired run to the 2006 Final Four, knocking off a 3 seeded UNC and No. 1 seed UConn on their way to becoming only the 2nd No. 11 seed to ever reach the Final Four.
Midnight struck quickly in Indianapolis, however, as the Patriots were no match for Florida’s fearsome foursome of Joakim Noah, Corey Brewer, Taurean Green and Al Horford, falling 73-58 in a semifinal that wasn’t close for more than ten minutes. — Neil Blackmon
12. Rip Hamilton’s shot to beat Washington in 1998
A year before leading UConn to its first national championship, I became a fan of Rip Hamilton after this classic NCAA Tournament moment. The Huskies had four looks at the basket, including two from Hamilton, before finally scoring the game-winning points at the buzzer. — Michael Bratton
11. Sister Jean and the Cinderellas of Chicago
In 2018, Loyola Chicago became just the 4th No. 11 seed to reach the Final Four. They won their opening game by 2 points and the next 2 by 1 point each. No. 3 seed Tennessee was a victim.
Maybe. — Chris Wright
— Loyola Chicago (@LoyolaChicago) March 30, 2018
10. So close…
In 2010, Butler lost to Duke in the national title game. In 2011, the Bulldogs fell to UConn in the championship game. But, in 2010, Gordon Hayward had the Bulldogs this close to winning it all:
Yes, Duke ended up winning yet another title, but Butler provided plenty of entertainment during that incredible 2-year run under Brad Stevens. — Adam Spencer
9. Bo Kimble 1-handed free throw, 1990
Goose-bump stuff. — Joe Cox
8. The night Villanova couldn’t miss
The Big East was the capital of college basketball in the mid-1980s, and no year defined the dominance more so than 1985. Three Big East teams reached the Final Four.
Two — No. 8 seed Villanova and No. 1 seed Georgetown — met for the national title.
Most presumed a Hoya blowout.
The Hoyas had won it all in 1984, and Patrick Ewing and Co. were back to defend their title. They dominated the Big East, were ranked No. 1 or No. 2 the entire season and had beaten Villanova twice already.
The Hoyas played well. Ewing scored 14 and the Hoyas shot 55% from the field.
Villanova couldn’t miss. Reserve Harold Jensen went 5-for-5. Star Ed Pinckney scored 16 on 5-of-7 shooting. Overall, Villanova made 22-of-28 shots in a stunning 66-64 win. It was the single-greatest shooting night in Final Four history and still 3rd-best in NCAA Tournament history. — Chris Wright
7. The Runnin’ Rebels of 1990
UNLV scored a tournament-record 571 points in 6 games, punctuating their 1990 national championship by hanging 103 in a 30-point beatdown of Duke in the title game.
The only scare? The top-seeded Runnin’ Rebels overlooked Ball State in the Sweet 16, and held on to win 69-67. — Chris Wright
6. Wisconsin beats undefeated Kentucky in the Final Four
I’ve never been a fan of Kentucky basketball or John Calipari. When they joined forces years ago, I knew that was the perfect storm for developing a juggernaut basketball program and heading into the 2015 NCAA Tournament, that’s exactly what the Wildcats proved to be. Kentucky entered the Final Four with a perfect 38-0 record and had everyone writing the Wildcats to win the title in ink but Wisconsin had other plans in mind. If I was a Wisconsin guy, I would have probably not been happy that the Badgers didn’t finish the deal and win the title but in my eyes, they are more memorable than the team that won that year for costing Kentucky a shot at a perfect season. — Michael Bratton
5. Kris Jenkins’ 3-point buzzer-beater wins 2016 NCAA Tournament
It’s not every day that you witness an NCAA Tournament ending on a buzzer-beater, and for a school like Villanova to knock off a blue blood in North Carolina made it feel that much more “peak March.” The fact that I was watching this in an Orlando Buffalo Wild Wings without a rooting interest and the entire place flipped out only added to the moment. — Connor O’Gara
4. A funny story about the Chris Webber timeout …
As everybody knows, North Carolina led Michigan 73-71 with the clock winding down in the 1993 final. After grabbing a rebound, Chris Webber (who walked, by the way), raced up court, was immediately trapped and called timeout. Michigan didn’t have any left. UNC added 4 free throws — 2 on Webber’s technical — and won 77-71.
Webber has since owned the blunder that ended the Fab 5’s landscape-changing run and sealed North Carolina’s 2nd NCAA championship under Dean Smith.
Fast-forward to 2011. I’m visiting Michigan, for the first time. I spot a group of Michigan fans and buy a round of beers.
One guy asked: What’s that for?
“I’m a Carolina fan. It’s the least I could do. Cheers.”
Enough time had passed. They laughed. — Chris Wright
3. Back-to-back, 2007 National Championship Game
Florida became the first school since Duke in 1991-1992 to win back to back national championships and the first since UCLA to do it with the same starting five, blitzing their way through the field in 2007.
In the national championship, Florida’s strategy to use its four different big men to play one on one vs. Ohio State All-American Greg Oden paid off. Oden was terrific, but Billy Donovan’s decision to not double Oden and make the Buckeyes supporting cast beat them was masterful, and the Gators pulled away late as Oden tired and Horford and Noah took charge. — Neil Blackmon
2. Kentucky’s 2012 Final Four win over Pitino and Louisville
Biggest game in UK history? Maybe so — it set the stage for UK’s 8th title, established Calipari’s dominance over Pitino, and defined one of the best teams I’ve ever seen. Bonus for me is that I absolutely knew in my bones that I would miss this game because of my son’s impending birth. My wife, God bless her, watched the entire game with me (it was the early game), and midway through the first half of the later game, she felt the labor pains and we went to the hospital. I know who the real MVP is. — Joe Cox
1. ‘They won it … on the dunk!’
Chills, still. Every single time.
From the unlikely nature of it all — N.C. State entered the NCAA Tournament with 10 losses and faced a Houston team with 2 eventual Hall of Famers — to a euphoric Jim Valvano running the court afterward, searching from somebody to hug after Lorenzo Charles’ title-winning dunk. Every single bit of the ride was unbelievable. — Chris Wright