The 15 Most Memorable NCAA Tournament Moments

The 15 Most Memorable NCAA Tournament Moments


The 15 Most Memorable NCAA Tournament Moments

Today is the 35th anniversary of a freshman named Michael Jordan hitting a baseline jumper to win a national title (Dean Smith’s first after 20 years). It was the herald moment announcing Jordan’s prodigious basketball career, and would probably not be as famous if someone else had hit it. Nevertheless, in honor of that moment, writers here at The Big Lead got together to put a large list of NCAA moments (so that it’s not just limited to winning shots or buzzer beaters) that are most memorable. We then each individually ranked them, and here is the composite result. Enjoy:

#15 Ali Farokhmanesh Pulls the Trigger on 3-Pointer Against Kansas to Knock Off #1 Seed

Look, there have been more dramatic shots than Farokhmanesh. But I’m not sure there’s been a more “check out the stones on that guy” shot than what he did facing the Jayhawks, up one with 30 seconds left. I can think of a thousand reasons not to take that shot–he was the only Northern Iowa on that half of the court, there were 30 seconds left and lots of time on the shot clock, etc. But you pull that off after a little “should I? Yes, I should” hesitation, and we remember you forever. Ultimate YOLO move. –Lisk

#14 Rip Hamilton Hits Fadeaway Buzzer Beater After UCONN Misses Several Attempts

This one gets in on sheer craziness and effort. The Connecticut Huskies seemed doomed after several attempts, including a previous one by Rip Hamilton, bounced off. Rip got that one last chance and in what might have been the toughest shot of the sequence, broke Washington’s hopes in half. –Lisk

#13 Adam Morrison Cries Real Tears as Gonzaga Blows Late Lead Against UCLA (2006)

This clip has it all. You had Gus Johnson screaming as the game devolved into insanity, as UCLA stole the ball and took the lead. Then, you had Adam Morrison crying tears while there was still time on the clock. One of the enduring images of March. –Lisk

#12 Bo Kimble Shoots Left-handed free throw in memory of Hank Gathers, swishes it, as Loyola Marymount goes on run

If you didn’t see them play, Loyola Marymount was a unique treasure. Then, tragedy struck when their best player, Hank Gathers, collapsed and died during the conference tournament. The rest of the conference tourney was canceled, Loyola was given the auto bid, and this team had to turn around and play their first game without him in the NCAA Tournament. They were dropped to an 11-seed as a result. They were already rolling when Kimble went to the line, and shot his first free throw left-handed. He swished it. Loyola went all the way to the Elite Eight. Still one of the best emotional moments in tourney history. –Lisk

#11 Princeton Beats Defending Champ UCLA With a Backdoor Cut (1996)

The back-cut heard ’round the world! One of the biggest upsets in NCAA Tournament history was set up with one of the most fundamental plays the sport has to offer. In 1996, UCLA was the defending national champion and a four-seed, while Princeton was the Ivy League champion and a 13-seed. The Tigers slowed the game to a crawl and wound up winning 43-41 on a perfect backdoor cut with just four seconds left in the game. Elements of the so-called “Princeton offense” became trendy in coaching circles following this win and had a major impact on both college basketball and the NBA in the following years. –Phillips

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