15 Craziest Moments in NCAA Tournament History
The 15 Craziest Moments In NCAA Tournament History
The NCAA tournament is the most unpredictable sporting event each and every year. With 68 teams and the use of brackets, many different combinations of scenarios can happen, frustrating even the most qualified analysts. On the court, the action can be just as unpredictable.
The 76th version of the NCAA tournament this March will have as much unpredictability as any of the previous 75. With no dominant teams this year and plenty of dark horse squads and players, anything and everything can and will happen in the tournament.
From buzzer-beaters to crazy fouls and strange turnovers, a game can change in the blink of an eye. Most countdowns concern the greatest players, moments and teams that have turned college basketball into a national phenomenon, but I will attempt to take a different approach with the 15 craziest moments in NCAA tournament history.
Just last year, the Louisville Cardinals had some strange circumstances that helped them win a national title. In the Elite Eight game against Duke, guard Kevin Ware gruesomely broke his leg after a seemingly innocent play. The Cardinals would be energized by Ware's injury and never looked back in claiming the school's third national championship. Also in 2013, the Florida Gulf Coast Eagles became the first 15 seed to reach the Sweet 16, proving that anything is possible.
This countdown explores everything and anything crazy, strange or something that seems beyond the realm of imagination. From great comebacks to spontaneous celebrations, even poor on-court decisions to everything in between, the 15 craziest moments in NCAA tournament history will take a different approach to the greatest and most memorable moments in the history of the NCAA tournament.
15. Adam Morrison Cries After Loss To UCLA
The Bruins would come back in a thrilling finish to defeat the Bulldogs 73-71, but the takeaway from that game is Gonzaga star Adam Morrison crying after his team choked away a huge lead. Seeing one of the game's best players turn into a petulant teenager who didn't get what he wanted was something that few had seen before or since.
14. Steve Merfeld's Reaction After Upsetting Iowa State In 2001
When Iowa State guard Jamaal Tinsley missed a game-winning layup with time expiring in 2001, Hampton would defeat the Cyclones 58-57, and led to the next strange moment in tournament history. When Hampton coach Steve Merfeld was lifted in mid-air after the victory, the celebration trumped the tremendous upset.
13. David Thompson Stops UCLA Dynasty 1 Week After Concussion
After being knocked unconscious during their Elite Eight game against Purdue, North Carolina State guard David Thompson came back the next week from a concussion to dethrone the UCLA Bruins' and their streak of seven straight national championships.
Thompson had 28 points and 10 rebounds against the Bruins. The Wolfpack would continue on to the championship game where the Wolfpack would defeat Marquette. With the emphasis on concussions in today's day and age, this type of comeback won't happen again.
12. Michigan State Score 52 In Second Half vs. UCLA, Still Loses
After holding an 18-point lead at halftime and leading by as much as 23, the UCLA Bruins completely seemed to pull away from Michigan State in their 2011 first-round game. The Spartans did not quit, in fact, the Spartans nearly pulled off an improbable victory.Led by Draymond Green's triple-double and a 52-point second half, the Spartans nearly came back to stun the Bruins. UCLA helped the Spartans' cause by missing 17 free throws and committing several crucial turnovers. The Spartans trailed by two, but a traveling call thwarted a last-second attempt, giving the Bruins a win that they tried in every way to give to the Spartans.
11. Bill Freider Gets Fired Day Of Tournament, Michigan Wins It All
Assistant coach Steve Fisher took over as head coach and ran off six wins to capture the title over Seton Hall. Fisher would then bring in the "Fab Five" in 1992 and Michigan basketball would be as popular as it ever has.
10. 2012 Play-In Game Comebacks
In the first play-in game of the 2012 NCAA Tournament, Western Kentucky trailed Mississippi Valley State by 16 with just under five minutes remaining. The Hilltoppers made the largest comeback in the last five minutes of an NCAA tournament game, and would win 59-58.
The next game the same night also saw another great comeback. The Iona Gales held a 25-point lead over the BYU Cougars in their play-in game. Much like the Hilltoppers, the Cougars would pull off one of the largest comebacks in NCAA tournament history; this one was the largest deficit in tournament history with the Cougars winning 78-72.
9. Illinois, Louisville Both Have Big Comebacks In 2005 Elite Eight
When Illinois and Louisville both came back from big deficits in the Elite Eight of the 2005 tournament, even more "madness" was created.
Illinois trailed Arizona by 15 with four minutes remaining. The Fighting Illini would come all the way back, winning in overtime 90-89. In the other Elite Eight game on the same day, Louisville trailed West Virginia by 20 in the second half, but the Cardinals also came back and forced overtime. Louisville eventually defeated the Mountaineers 93-85.
8. Andre Turner Hits Back-To-Back Buzzer-Beaters For Memphis
Forward Andre Turner from Memphis State had a tournament for the ages in 1985. Against both UAB and Boston College in the rounds of 32 and 16, Turner would hit game-winning shots for the Tigers. He hit back-to-back 17 footers that would help the Tigers to reach the Final Four, where they would lose to the Cinderella Villanova Wildcats.
7. Western Kentucky, San Diego Hit Buzzer-Beaters On Same Court/Day
In the first round of the 2008 NCAA Tournament, 12th-seeded Western Kentucky (known for dramatic victories) defeated fifth seeded Drake when Ty Rogers hit a 26-foot buzzer-beater in overtime to give the Hilltoppers a 101-99 victory. The Hilltoppers would reach the Sweet 16.
In the next game on the exact same court, the 13th-seeded San Diego Toreros would upset fourth-seeded Connecticut 70-69 on a De'Jon Jackson jumper with 1.2 seconds left. The loss would be the soonest that a Jim Calhoun-coached team would be eliminated
6. 2010 Butler vs. Pittsburgh Ending
After Shelvin Mack committed a dumb foul, Pittsburgh's Gilbert Brown split a pair of free throws to tie the game. With just under one second left, and the game tied at 70, Matt Howard grabbed a rebound and heaved the ball down the court, but Howard was fouled by Pittsburgh's Nasir Robinson. Howard would hit his free throws and the Bulldogs pulled the upset.
5. Fred Brown Throws The Ball To Opposing Team
In a star-studded affair, the Georgetown Hoyas led by Patrick Ewing faced off against James Worthy, Michael Jordan and the North Carolina Tar Heels for the 1982 championship. After Jordan hit a go-ahead jumper that gave North Carolina the lead with just seconds to go. In attempting a game-winning shot, Georgetown guard Fred Brown accidentally passed the ball to Worthy, effectively ending the game. The Tar Heels would run out the clock, giving Dean Smith his first national championship as head coach.
4. 3 Buzzer-Beaters On The Same Day In 1981
In 1981, Arkansas guard U.S. Reed hit a half-court shot as the Arkansas Razorbacks defeated the defending national champion Louisville Cardinals.
Finally, for the third time, a buzzer-beater ended a tournament game. A last-second layup by St. Joseph's John Smith's knocked out the DePaul Blue Demons.
This marked the first time one tournament day ended on three buzzer-beaters.
3. 1996 Syracuse vs. Georgia Wild Finish
Syracuse tied the game at 68 with 30 seconds remaining. Georgia then made a jumper to take a 70-68 lead with three seconds left. Syracuse then scored at the buzzer to force overtime. In overtime, Syracuse took a 80-78 lead with 15 seconds remaining. Georgia would then answer with a three to take one-point lead. Finally, Syracuse would hit a game-winning three to win 83-81. Hope your head doesn't hurt after that.
2. Chris Webber Calls Timeout When Michigan Has None
The most famous technical foul in basketball history. After a missed free throw by North Carolina, Michigan forward Chris Webber, with his team down by two late in the 1993 Championship Game, called a timeout when the Wolverines didn't have one.
The subsequent free throws by North Carolina would end the game. None of this would really matter as Michigan was stripped of both their 1992 and 1993 seasons for improper benefits, mostly having to do with Webber.
1. 15 Seeds Norfolk State & Lehigh Both Beat 2 Seeds On Same Night
Only four times since the NCAA tournament introduced seeding has a 15 seed defeated a two seed in the tournament. On one night, two 15 seeds defeated two two seeds.
The Missouri Tigers and the Duke Blue Devils were heavy favorites to reach the Final Four, yet both were one-and-dones. The Tigers fell to Norfolk State as future NBA pro Kyle O'Quinn would dominate the smaller Tigers' lineup. The Blue Devils also were outplayed by another NBA pro in C.J. McCollum, who had 30 points, seven rebounds and six assists to cap a once-in-a-lifetime night.