The 10 Greatest Buzzer-Beaters In NCAA Tournament History
The 10 Greatest Buzzer-Beaters In NCAA Tournament History
The NCAA Tournament puts the best 64 teams in college basketball, at least in the eyes of the selection committee, up against each other and tight finishes are bound to happen.
Of those tight finishes, buzzer-beaters are the cream of the crop. Buzzer-beaters draw reactions like 'did you see that?' or 'I can't believe he just made that' out of people. They often appear on SportsCenter's Top 10 Plays and draw a lot of attention from the media and fans.
Buzzer-beaters are what makes the NCAA Tournament so special. With a lot on the line, these shots show how much is at stake. Teams that hit them rush the court in jubilation while teams on the other side crumble to the floor in defeat. Players dream of that ultimate goal of reaching a Final Four and hosting up the trophy, so it is crushing to fall short, especially for the seniors in their last go-round.
Buzzer-beaters have given the world sights like Ty Rogers running around the court after hitting a game winning three in Western Kentucky's upset of the Drake in 2008 or Korie Lucious getting mobbed by his teammates after hitting a game-winning three in the Michigan State Spartans' victory over the Maryland Terrapins in 2010.
Those shots are such a big part of why March has been dubbed March Madness. In the blink of an eye, the outcome of a game changes. For teams like the 2010 Spartans team, that shot took them from the verge of being eliminated to the Sweet 16 and a chance to keep playing for the ultimate goal.
This list is a look at the best of the best in buzzer-beaters in the history of the NCAA Tournament.
10. U.S. Reed
The Arkansas Razorbacks won a national title with Nolan Richardson and his famed "40 Minutes of Hell" in 1994 (pictured above), but Arkansas secured its place in NCAA Tournament history long before that. In 1981, U.S. Reed hit a miraculous shot to win the Razorbacks' second round matchup with the defending national champion Louisville Cardinals. Down one with time winding down, Reed caught an inbound pass in his own backcourt and started zig-zagging his way to half court. Reed pulled up just before half court as the buzzer sounded and hit the shot, giving the Razorbacks a 74-73 victory.
9. Kenton Paulino
The West Virginia Mountaineers hit a three-pointer with five seconds on the clock to tie the game and overtime seemed certain, but Kenton Paulino was having none of that. The senior guard hit a three-pointer from the left wing as time expired to give the Texas Longhorns a 74-71 victory. Paulino's shot put the Longhorns in the Elite Eight, one victory away from a Final Four, but the LSU Tigers upset them.
8. Richard Hamilton
Richard Hamilton has had a long career, and his shot in the 1998 NCAA Tournament is near the top of his accomplishments. The Connecticut Huskies found themselves down one to the Washington Huskies after Washington hit a three-pointer with just over 33 seconds left. With under 15 seconds left, Hamilton grabbed an offensive rebound and missed the put-back attempt, but the ball was tipped back to him. He hit a fadeaway jumper from eight feet away to win the game and advance the Huskies to the Elite Eight.
7. Tate George
Down one with just one second left, the outlook was bleak for the Connecticut Huskies, but Tate George came to the rescue. George caught a full court pass on the right side near the baseline and hit a spin around 15-footer to defeat the Clemson Tigers. The win propelled the Huskies to the Elite Eight where they lost by one to the Duke Blue Devils.
6. James Forrest
Bobby Cremins won a lot of games as a head coach in his career, but the 1992 NCAA Tournament game against the USC Trojans ranks near the top of that list. The Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets found themselves down two with 0.8 seconds on the clock, and the last person the Yellow Jackets wanted to shoot the final shot was James Forrest. A freshman, Forrest hadn't hit a three-pointer in his career. But with all other options covered, Georgia Tech was forced to inbound the ball to Forrest and he responded by hitting a three from the left wing, giving the Yellow Jackets a 79-78 victory.
5. Drew Nicholas
The Maryland Terrapins found themselves on the ropes against the UNC-Wilmington Seahawks in the 2003 NCAA Tournament, but Drew Nicholas came up clutch. Trailing 73-72, Nicholas caught the inbound pass, dribbled up court and hit a fadeaway three with a hand in his face to give the Terrapins a 75-73 victory. The shot saved the reigning NCAA Champions from being eliminated in the first round.
4. Tyus Edney
The No. 1 seed UCLA Bruins found themselves on the brink of elimination in their second game of the tournament. Down one with 4.8 seconds left, the Bruins needed to go the length of the floor to win, and Tyus Edney did just that. Edney banked in a running layup over a Missouri Tigers defender as time expired, sending the Bruins to the Sweet 16. The Bruins went on to win the National Championship that season, and Edney's shot was key to them getting there.
3. Bryce Drew
The Valparaiso Crusaders and the name Drew are forever linked together. Valparaiso has won a total of two NCAA Tournament games in program history, and the Drew's are to thank for that. In 1998, Homer Drew was the head coach and Bryce was the star point guard. The Crusaders were down two points with 2.5 seconds to go, 94 feet from their basket. Valparaiso threw the ball to a player just over half court who caught the ball and fired it over to Drew who was running up the right side of the floor. Drew proceeded to drain a 23-foot jumper that gave the Crusaders a 70-69 victory. The Crusaders went on to win their next game and advance to the Sweet 16, accumulating the only two NCAA Tournament wins in program history. Bryce, who succeeded his father as the head coach in 2011, will be forever remembered by Crusader fans for the play simply known as The Shot.
2. Christian Laettner
You can't talk buzzer-beaters without mentioning Christian Laettner. The Duke Blue Devil forward hit one of the most memorable game winners in basketball history during the 1992 East Regional Final. Down one with 2.1 seconds on the clock, Laettner caught a full court pass on the free-throw line, faked right and then hit a turnaround jumper to win the game. The shot sent the Blue Devils to the Final Four, and they went on to win the National Championship that season.
1. Lorenzo Charles
Does it get any better than a buzzer-beater to win the National Championship? I don't think so. That was the case for Lorenzo Charles and NC State Wolfpack. Tied at 52 against a heavily favored Houston Cougars team, point guard Derek Whitenberg fired up a long jumper that was short, but Charles caught the ball like an alley-oop and dunked home the winning basket. The win gave the Wolfpack its second national title in school history and the late Jim Valvano his only championship.