March Madness is back, baby! (Dick Vitale says it best.) After taking the one-year hiatus due to the pandemic, the madness returned on March 18th. In the spirit of the tournament, here are my top 5 biggest moments in the past 5 years.
Watch these stars shine in their own shining moments!
The Virginia Cavaliers were the laughingstock of the NCAA. In 2018 they became the first one seed to lose to a 16 seed. The Cavaliers would take that to heart. They came back the next year and steamrolled to the Elite Eight. An overtime win against the Purdue Boilermakers sent them to the next round where they met the five seed Auburn Tigers. They held on by one point. Finally, a chance at redemption. The Cavaliers played the Texas Tech Red Raiders. The game came down to the wire and went into overtime. From there, the Cavaliers dominated the overtime period to win their first-ever National Championship.
Honorable Mention #5
#15 Middle Tennessee upsetting #2 Michigan State (2016)
You rarely see a 15 seed upset a 2 seed, but Middle Tennessee is one of the (at the time) 7 to pull off the upset.
The Oral Roberts Golden Eagles were easily the surprise of the 2021 NCAA Tournament. Coming in as the 15 seed, the Golden Eagles were set to play the 2 seed Ohio State Buckeyes. Ohio State would miss the game-tying shot as time expired. For the first time since 2016, a 15 seed upset a 2 seed, but Oral Roberts was not done. They would go on to beat the Florida Gators after the Gators missed a game-tying shot at the buzzer. Their next test in the sweet 16 was the Arkansas Razorbacks. This time it was the Golden Eagles trailing with 3 seconds left. The number 1 scorer in the NCAA, Max Abmas, had a chance to send Oral Roberts to the Elite Eight, but his shot hit the rim and went out. The first 15 seed to go to the sweet 16 since 2013 remained one shot away from being the first 15 seed to go to the Elite Eight.
Honorable Mention #4
#11 Northern Iowa stunning #6 Texas at the buzzer (2016)
One of the best buzzer beaters I have ever seen! A half-court heave went in for Northern Iowa stunning the higher seed Texas Longhorns.
Coming in as the 11 seed, the Loyola Chicago Ramblers won the Missouri Valley Conference. They played the six seeded Miami Hurricanes. As seen in the first clip in the video, with no timeout called, the Ramblers would hit the game-winning shot as time expired to pull the upset over the Hurricanes 64-62. Their next test would come against the Tennessee Volunteers in the round of 32. The Ramblers would once again hit the go-ahead shot with 3 seconds left and would win that game 63-62. In the sweet 16, the Ramblers would draw the matchup of the seven seeded Nevada Wolf Pack. That game would again come down to the wire with the Ramblers edging out the victory 69-68. On to the Elite Eight, the Ramblers beat the nine seeded Kansas State Wildcats, and the Ramblers would see their largest margin of victory of the tournament with the 78-62 victory, moving on to the final four. Their magic run would end there as the Ramblers would fall to the Michigan Wolverines 69-57. The Ramblers made it farther than a MVC team has made it in a very long time.
Honorable Mention #3
#11 UCLA making the Final Four (2021)
“From the first four to the final four” and they were one shot away from going into double overtime with the unbeaten number one seed Gonzaga Bulldogs.
The UMBC Golden Retrievers came into the 2018 tournament as huge underdogs. There had never been a 16 seed upset a one seed in the almost 100 years of the tournament's history. The Golden Retrievers would come in and dominate the Virginia Cavaliers early on and would not slow up. From early on the viewers knew that they were watching history unfold and that the Cavaliers did not have the firepower to mount a comeback. The Cavaliers would fall to the Golden Retrievers by 20, 74-54. It was the first time in the history of the tournament that the number one seed lost to the 16 seed.
Jalen Suggs Shot (2021)
The Bruins had just tied the game. The Bulldogs did not call a timeout, instead, they put the ball into the hands of the number six ranked high school prospect in 2020. Jalen Suggs pulled up from just in front of half-court and banked in the game-winning shot to send the Bulldogs to the National Championship game
Honorable Mention #1
Zion Williamson (2019)
College basketball has not seen a star like Zion Williamson in a very long time, if ever. Coming out of high school Williamson was highly touted. He committed to the Duke Blue Devils. Williamson led them to the number one seed in the East region in the tournament and a 29-5 record overall. He led the Blue Devils to the Elite Eight where they lost by one point to the Michigan State Spartans. He was the 2019 AP Men's Player of the Year. Coming out of Duke, Williamson was the consensus number one overall pick in the 2019 NBA draft.
The biggest shot in the history of the NCAA tournament came in the 2016 National Championship game. The Villanova Wildcats took on the North Carolina Tar Heels. With 13 seconds left the Tar Heels found themselves trailing by 3. Marcus Paige of the Tar Heels hit an acrobatic game-tying shot with 4 seconds left in the game. The Wildcats called timeout and drew up a play. Ryan Arcidiacono dribbled the ball up the court, he flipped it to the in-bounder Kris Jenkins who would go on to hit the game-winning shot as time expired to win the Wildcats the National Championship.