(97.1 The Ticket) – The 2018 NCAA Tournament field of 68 will be revealed Sunday, and the tournament will soon get underway. As the Selection Show will be a little different this year, it’s clear that a lot has changed in college basketball over the last decade or so.
One thing that has stayed the same? The madness.
In one of American sports’ most enduring traditions, we can always count on an exciting three weeks of college basketball. Here’s a look at the top 10 March Madness moments of the past decade.
- Aaron Harrison’s buzzer beaters during Kentucky’s march to Final Four (2014)
- Butler’s miracle 2nd-round win over Pitt (2011)
- S.F. Austin’s 4-point play to force overtime in win over VCU (2014)
- Florida stuns Wisconsin in Sweet 16 thriller (2017)
10. UNI’s Paul Jesperson hits half-court buzzer beater to beat Texas (2016)
No. 11-seed Northern Iowa knocked of No. 6-seed Texas on one of the craziest shots in recent memory. That was just a sign of things to come later in the 2016 tournament — more on that shortly.
9. Korie Lucious sends Spartans to the Sweet 16 (2010)
Michigan State’s run to the 2010 Final Four almost hit a roadblock against No. 4-seed Maryland. The Spartans led by as many as 14 points before the Terrapins stormed back to take the lead with less than a minute to go. Korie Lucious ended the back-and-forth affair that Spartan fans will always remember. The following week, the Spartans knocked off the darlings in the next spot on the list.
8. UNI stuns top-seeded Kansas (2010)
The Panthers are back on the list for one of the bigger upsets of the decade. Ninth-seeded UNI knocked off the No. 1 overall seed Jayhawks, thanks in large part to Ali Farokhmanesh’s memorable three-pointer. Who can forget that name?
7. R.J. Hunter buries Baylor, knocks his dad off a stool (2015)
2015 was the year of the 14-seed. UAB upset Iowa State, Northeastern nearly beat Notre Dame, and most memorably, Georgia State knocked off Baylor, and knocked his dad, the head coach, off a stool in the process.
6. 2 15-seed upsets on the same day (2012)
The first Friday of the 2012 NCAA Tournament provided two of the biggest upsets of the decade. Norfolk State beat No. 2-seed Missouri early in the day, and Lehigh capped off the wild night by beating Duke, who was one of the favorites to win the whole tournament. C.J. McCollum put himself on the map in that game by hanging 30 points on the Blue Devils.
5. Texas A&M’s stunning comeback against UNI (2016)
Northern Iowa finds itself on this list yet again. This time, for the wrong reason. Two days after Paul Jesperson’s miraculous buzzer beater against Texas, UNI led No. 3-seed Texas A&M by 12 points with 44 seconds to play. The Aggies went on to complete one of the best comebacks in tournament history, ultimately advancing to the Sweet 16 in overtime.
4. Dunk City (2013)
In 2013, we all fell in love with the Florida Gulf Coast Eagles, simply known as Dunk City. FGCU became the first — and still, the only — 15-seed to advance to the Sweet 16. They started off by knocking off second-seeded Georgetown, and then beat 10-seed San Diego State. The most memorable moment of their run? Ernie Johnson’s “drop the anvil” call.
3. Trey Burke’s heroics against Kansas (2013)
Michigan trailed 1-seed Kansas by 14 points with under 7:00 to play. Trey Burke (23 points, all in the second half) led a furious comeback capped off by a 30-footer to send the game to overtime. The Wolverines went on to the National Championship Game that year, making the program’s first Final Four since the Fab Five era.
2. Gordon Hayward was inches from mortality (2010)
In 2010, the No. 5-seed Butler Bulldogs captured the hearts of college basketball fans — except maybe Michigan State fans in the Final Four — when the relatively unknown team marched all the way to the National Championship Game in their home city of Indianapolis, living out a “real life Hoosiers” scenario. The Dawgs would go on to do it all over again a year later as an 8-seed, adding to the lore of the story.
Gordon Hayward was inches away from completing the fairy tale story for the Bulldogs, but it wasn’t meant to be as Coach K and the Blue Devils celebrated yet another title.
1. “Jenkins, for the Championship!” (2016)
It’s not even a question. Kris Jenkins’ shot at the buzzer to beat North Carolina in the 2016 title game has been the best moment of the decade. Probably the best moment since the millennium, and definitely in the mix for the best tournament moment of all time. It was this generation’s equivalent of the 1983 National Championship buzzer beater by Jim Valvano’s NC State team. It will live on forever.
What made this moment even better was that it came just second after what we thought at the time was one of the craziest shots in tournament history when Marcus Paige tied the game with 4.7 seconds left.