Over the years, some of basketball’s finest have shown off their icy nerves with upset-causing and championship-winning buzzer beaters as part of college basketball’s March Madness. To get you hyped for the tournament, which tips off with Selection Sunday this Sunday, we’ve highlighted the best buzzer beaters of all time below.
[sc:NCAAB240banner ]Note: these ain’t your grandma’s buzzer beaters. We’re talking fewer than ten seconds left in the game, fans have given up, court-storming-guaranteed buzzer beaters here. That means a few classic finishes, like Michael Jordan’s 1982 winner over Georgetown, are left out, but don’t you worry: this list brings the heat.
Top 10 March Madness Buzzer Beaters
10. Jermaine Wallace (Northwestern State vs. Iowa, 1st Round, 2006)
Back in 2006, No. 14 Northwestern State had clawed its way back from a 17-point deficit get within two of No. 3 Iowa with seconds left. After they had missed a three, Jermaine Wallace chased down the rebound, faced up and sank a fade-away three with half a second left to claim the Demons’ most famous win ever.
9. Tate George (Connecticut vs. Clemson, Sweet 16, 1990)
The UConn Huskies were down 70-69 and inbounding from the opposite end of the court with just one second remaining. Pat Burrell–a man who had already been drafted by MLB–launches a strike straight to Tate George, who turns and drains the winning jumper.
8. Tyus Edney (UCLA vs. Missouri, 2nd Round, 1995)
No. 8 Missouri was less than five seconds from knocking out No. 1 UCLA in the 2nd round of the 1995 tournament. But five seconds were all Tyus Edney needed to go coast-to-coast for the game-saving layup to save the Bruins’ blushes, as they went on to win their 11th national championship.
7. Scottie Reynolds (Villanova vs. Pittsburgh, Elite Eight, 2009)
Pittsburgh point guard Levance Fields had just tied the game at 76 from the free throw line, but neither he nor his teammates could stop Villanova’s Scottie Reynolds from going coast-to-coast in 5.5 seconds to lay in the winning basket that sent the Wildcats to its first Final Four since 1985.
6. Bryce Drew (Valparaiso vs. Ole Miss, 1st Round, 1998)
No. 13 Valparaiso was down by two to No. 4 Ole Miss with 2.5 seconds to go and the length of the court to cover. Head coach Homer Drew drew up the perfect play. The inbound pass hit the relay man, who touched it to the wide open Bryce Drew (Homer’s son), for the game-winning three.
5. U.S. Reed (Arkansas vs. Louisville, 2nd Round, 1981)
Defending-champions Louisville thought they’d beaten Arkansas with a clutch basket that put them up one with five seconds left in 1981’s second round. Unfortunately for them, U.S. Reed sank a prayer from half-court to send the champs packing, with their cheerleaders crying.
4. Mario Chalmers (Kansas vs. Memphis, Championship Game, 2008)
Buzzer beaters have an even stronger brain-melting quality when everything’s on the line. In 2008, freshman sensation Derrick Rose hit one of two free throws to give Memphis a three-point lead with 11 seconds to go. With Kansas out of timeouts, Sherron Collins pushes the ball up court, passes off to Mario Chalmers who sinks the three with two seconds left to force overtime, where the Jayhawks would eventually clinch the national championship.
3. Keith Smart (Indiana vs. Syracuse, Championship Game, 1987)
After a missed Syracuse free throw, Indiana had over 26 seconds to take the lead down one. The Hoosiers patiently probed the Orange offense, until the ball ended up at the hands of Keith Smart, who knocked down the game-winning basket from the baseline to win Indiana the championship.
2. Christian Laettner (Duke vs. Kentucky, Elite Eight, 1992)
Defending-champion Duke was down one with two seconds left back in 1992. At the opposite side of the court, Grant Hill threw a perfect inbounds pass to Christian Laettner at the free throw line. Laettner took a dribble, turned and fired home the shot to send Duke back to the Final Four.
1. Lorenzo Charles (NC State vs. Houston, Championship Game, 1983)
In 1983, North Carolina State seemed to have squandered its opportunity to break the tie with powerhouse Houston in regulation. With time running out, the Wolfpack’s Charles Wittenberg launched a desperation shot up from well beyond the three-point line. It came up woefully short, but Lorenzo Charles caught the airball and slammed the ball home as time expired to cue some of the most famous celebrations in NCAA basketball history.
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