March Madness makes losers of 67 teams, and winners of just one. Still, along the way, the tournament features some of the most joyful players, coaches, and fans you’ll find in sports, almost all of them underdogs who have often surprised themselves as much as their opponents with a buzzer-beating win, an unlikely comeback, or just a long three.
The result? Some unbridled, delightful celebrations. Check your cynicism at the door: below are our picks for the top 12 celebrations of the 2014 March Madness tournament, heading into Final Four weekend.[sc:MarchMadness ]
Top 12 Celebrations of the 2014 NCAA Tournament
12. The Huskies’ Sway
[sc:NCAA240banner ]Shabazz Napier is doing his best Kemba Walker impression, as he has pulled the No. 7 UConn all the way to the Final Four while averaging 23.2 points, six rebounds, and 4.5 assists per game in the tournament. His three against Villanova set off another round of three-sweeps, made popular by UConn freshman Terrence Samuel.
11. Stanford Cowbell Player
This intrepid Stanford Cardinal band member is doing his best to answer Christopher Walken’s call for more cowbell.
10. North Dakota State Coach Saul Phillips
Like a teen who just found his way to the mosh pit of his favorite rock band’s concert, 12th-seeded North Dakota State Bisons head coach Saul Phillips ran across the court and flashed a double “Go Bisons” sign to the crowd after his team booted out the No. 5 Oklahoma Sooners.
9. North Dakota State Locker Room
Of course, the players themselves weren’t about to be outshined by coach Phillips’ celebration. Here we see how the Bisons shook it out after becoming the third of four 12-seeds to make the Round of 32.
8. The Sam Mitchell Victory Jig
Mercer alumnus and former Toronto Raptors head coach Sam Mitchell could not contain his excitement after the Bears’ upset win over Duke in the second round. To celebrate the good news, he performed what may well have been the first jig of his broadcast career.
7. Exploding Longhorns
Few things are sweeter than winning a tournament game via a buzzer beater. Here, Texas Longhorns forward Jonathan Holmes fires a last-gasp three and missed. Luckily, his teammate Cameron Ridley picked up the loose ball and hoisted a shot that went in, breaking the tie with Arizona State as time expired.
6. Fred Hoiberg Had Fun in the Locker Room
After the No. 3 Iowa State Cyclones survived No. 6 North Carolina in the third round, they were immediately thrown into a position where they have to endure the sight of their own coach dancing awkwardly. Knowing that he could have embarrassed his family, Hoiberg was quick to fire this apologetic text to his daughter:
5. Dayton Jump Court
The No. 11 Dayton Flyers levelled the first major blow to the majority of the nation’s brackets with a wild win over the six-seeded Ohio State Buckeyes in the first round, thanks to Vee Sanford’s layup with three seconds left on the game clock. After Aaron Craft missed the ensuing layup, the Flyers, well, flew to midcourt for a spontaneous celebration that nearly got Dyshawn Pierre injured after landing on his backside. He wasn’t hurt though so we could all laugh now.
4. Back in the Locker Room…
If the win wasn’t enough, the post-game buffet gave Dayton more than enough to dance about.
3. Finally Final Four
Once Arizona’s Nick Johnson failed to get off a potential game-winning shot on time, the Badgers were quick to storm the floor, with players and coaches celebrating the upset win over the top-seeded Wildcats in the Elite 8. While perhaps not the wildest single celebration the list, this one got sweeter with age: the Badgers hadn’t made a Final Four since 2000, including all 12 seasons under coach Bo Ryan.
2. Stephen D. Austin Goes Sideshow
Fifth-seed VCU had a five-point lead, but completely blew it down the stretch of regulation period, culminating in this three-pointer by Desmond Haymon (plus a foul!) that sent the game to overtime, and the whole Lumberjacks’ bench into a frenzy.
1. Kevin Canevari’s Carnival-Worthy Skils
A fresh pair of glass slippers fit Mercer Bears’ guard Kevin Canevari perfectly. After the 14th-seeded Bears pulled off the NCAA Tournament’s most improbable upset of the first round by beating the third-seeded Duke Blue Devils, Canevari busted out a killer “Nae Nae” dance to the delight of his teammates, Mercer fans in the stands, and the GIF-loving world as a whole.[sc:finalfour490 ]
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