Forget those “first round” games in Dayton or wherever. The real NCAA Tournament begins Thursday.
To get you sufficiently psyched, we’ve rounded up the greatest plays in March Madness history, colorful and magical in our memories and brought to life by YouTube clips.
With any luck, this year’s tourney will produce a similarly goosebump-inducing moment or two. Roll the tape…
Michael Jordan, North Carolina, 1982: This one’s a two-parter. First, a freshman from Wilmington, North Carolina, by the name of Michael Jordan steps up and drains the biggest jumper of his life—up to that point. Then, with a chance to win the game, Georgetown’s Fred Brown passes to James Worthy. Who’s not on his team.
Lorenzo Charles, North Carolina State, 1983: Usually in sports, broken plays lead to poor results. But this one, thanks to some quick thinking by Charles, led to the 6-seeded Wolfpack capping off one of the most unlikely runs in college hoops history. And as the cliché goes, Jimmy V running around, looking for someone to hug.
Christian Laettner, Duke, 1992: The Duke-Kentucky East Regional final in 1992 was an epic, epic battle. But it was this play—with 2.1 seconds left in overtime and the Blue Devils trailing by one—that elevated it to “greatest college basketball game of all time” status.
Tyus Edney, UCLA, 1995: This one kills me because I’m a Mizzou alum and fan. I remember watching this and going from absolute elation—the Tigers were about to beat a No. 1 seed!—to absolute rip-your-heart-out-and-frappé-it-in-a-blender disappointment. And then of course, UCLA went on to win the national championship.
Bryce Drew, Valparaiso, 1998: Just a perfectly executed play with 2.5 seconds to go, drawn up by Homer Drew and finished off by his son Bryce, who’s now the coach at Valpo. Long pass, short pass, long shot. March Madness.
Deron Williams, Illinois, 2005: Arizona led Illinois by 15 points with four minutes to play. But there was no quit in the Illini, and with less than a minute left, Deron Williams knocked down this three-pointer, paving the way for an OT win. Note the pro-Illinois crowd (including Bill Murray!) losing their minds.
Jermaine Wallace, Northwestern State, 2006: Trailing by two points with the clock winding down, Northwestern State’s Jermaine Wallace hits an amaaazing off-balance three-pointer from the corner to beat third-seeded Iowa. And the radio commentators go NUTS. Also: check out Wallace and a teammate hugging at midcourt while Iowa’s Adam Haluska nearly makes a three to save the game for the Hawkeyes.
Mario Chalmers, Kansas, 2008: Memphis should have absolutely beaten Kansas in regulation. The Tigers led by nine points with 2:12 remaining. But after Derrick Rose (looking about 14 years old) split a pair from the line, Chalmers hit the clutchest of clutch shots to tie it up, and the Jayhawks won in OT.
Kris Jenkins, Villanova, 2016: Hmm, a buzzer beater to win the national championship? That’ll do, Kris. That’ll do.