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My Ultimate Historic March Madness Bracket

So the NCAA Tournament has been canceled. It is such an unfortunate situation, but COVID-19 has forced the NCAA to step in and do their part in preventing the spread of the virus, and that is more important than a recreational sport. Still, it’s a bummer. Sports are how we distract ourselves from everything going on all over the place and without the NCAA Tournament, it feels like part of our lives have been stripped from us.

 But, hey, let’s get creative. We have years of amazing NCAA Tournament games in the library. We know the results, the epic moments won’t capture us and have us on our seats as they had before, but we can still enjoy some good college basketball in the NCAA Tournament setting.

With just about every NCAA Tournament game ever online, here is a bracket of games of many of the best moments in NCAA Tournament history we can go back and relieve.

The bracket below is built with games that have happened since the tournament expanded in 1985. Warning, there may be a slight recency bias as this writer hasn’t actually lived through many of the great moments early in the tournament, and some of the best games couldn’t be made because, hey, it’s hard to find all these games and put them together with the proper results to advance the tournament. But, here it is:

Click for Full Size Bracket

NOTE: I really did the best I could to find every game in its entirety, but sometimes, it just wasn’t available. So I put some highlights or key moments for some the best I could find. If you find a link to a full game please comment.

The First Four

Okay, the first Four is a little wonky because it was mostly teams I felt had to be put into the tournament somehow or someway, so ignore the seeding, which is mostly just put together to fit the results so the bracket could be filled in.

Duke 77, Central Florida 76 – 2019

I loved this game. The matchup was very intriguing with hands down the best player in college basketball being the physical specimen Zion Williamson, going up against the towering 7-foot-5 Tacko Fall. There was no doubt Williamson was the better player, but how would he do against such a huge guy in the middle. Fall talked some trash before the game saying he would not allow Williamson to posterize him, and he didn’t. When Fall was matched up against Williamson for most of the game he won the battle. It was when Fall was out with foul trouble Duke was able to have their most success. Then you had Aubrey Dawkins, the son his coach, and Duke legend Johnny Dawkins, lighting up his dad’s team with 32 points. Then, at the end of the game, Williamson made an epic man’s man play directly against Fall to close a Blue Devils deficit and R.J. Barrett made a clutch put back to give Duke a late lead. Dawkins had a chance to win the game, but the last second tip-in didn’t go down.

Connecticut 82, Georgia Tech 73 – 2004

I didn’t do UConn much justice in the actual tournament, and you see why, because that George Mason game was legitimately one of the best games I ever remember watching. Because I wanted to go with that game, I gave UConn, winners of four national championships, a big moment. UConn dominated the first half and just down Jarrett Jack. Will Bynum was huge off the bench and helped the Yellow Jackets in the second half, but Emeka Okafor and Ben Gordon dominated the game and led the Huskies to their second national championship.

Maryland 79, South Dakota State 74 – 2016 

Hey, it’s my tournament and I want to watch as many Terps teams as possible. This was a really good game too. Mike Daum didn’t end up making it to the NBA, but he was a legitimate pro prospect who won three-straight Summit League Player of the Year awards leading the Jackrabbits. But that Maryland team had a tremendous starting five. It was a great battle, with Jake Layman and Melo Trimble leading the Terps to success and holding off a second-half surge by South Dakota State.

Florida Gulf Coast 81, San Diego State 71 – 2013

DUNK CITY!!!! Okay, the Florida Gulf Coast win over Georgetown was better, but I needed Georgetown for different games. But this Dunk City effort was another great one. After Florida Gulf Coast destroyed Georgetown the way they did there was little doubt they would again dominate the higher-seeded San Diego State Aztecs. For one weekend in 2013, Florida Gulf Coast and their amazing dunking ability was the most must-see thing in college basketball.

NOTE: I can’t find the full game and the extended highlights don’t show many of the dunks, so here is compilation of all of their dunks in 2013.

First Round

EAST REGION

Duke 61, Butler 59 – 2010 

We know now how good of a basketball player Gordon Hayward is. He was the best player on the court that game, and with Shelvin Mack and Matt Howard, the Bulldogs shocked everyone as they made it to the national championship game. They were supposed to get run over by Duke, and while they did end up falling, the game was close the entire time and went down to the wire. Gordon Heyward’s last-second heave didn’t fall and Duke won another title. It wasn’t Duke’s most talented team, but they were a well put together team where everybody knew exactly what their roles were and how to play together.

UNLV 131, Loyola Marymount 101 – 1990

Loyola Marymount was actually in an even higher-scoring game two rounds earlier against Michigan in the 1990 NCAA tournament. The No. 11 seed ran their fast-paced offense to the Elite 8, but the incredibly talented UNLV Runnin’ Rebels were up for the battle. Bo Kimble led the Lions with 42 points, but UNLV saw four players score 20 or more points and two of them with 30 or more. This on their way to a National Championship later that year.

Providence 70, USC 69 – 2016 

Not even one of the most high profile 8-9 matchups, but Providence and USC put together a great game Kris Dunn and Ben Bentil had great games. With just over two minutes left, Dunn hit a great three to tie the game but Rodney Bullock scored with 1.5 seconds left in a game that was close throughout to give the Friars the win.

Arizona 79, Oklahoma State 78 – 2005 

Led by Joey Graham and John Lucas this was a very hyped up Oklahoma State team that earned a No. 2 seed and was a serious threat to make the Final Four. But Arizona had other plans. Channing Frye, Salim Stoudamire, and company shut down Curry, holding him to just nine field-goal attempts and 11 points. Joey Graham still did what he could and scored 26 points to help the Cowboys throughout the Sweet 16 game, but Stoudamire called for the ball and hit the game-winner with 2.8 seconds left for the win.

Kansas 75, Memphis 68 (OT) – 2008 

What a game this one was. Memphis was the darling many were hoping would win because they were a dominant mid-major. They were also a team led by John Calipari, so just as many and maybe, even more, wanted to lose. Kansas and Memphis were clearly two of the absolute best teams in the country that year and met in the 2008 NCAA Championship game and put together a great one. While Derrick Rose was the elite freshman star, Chris Douglas-Roberts was huge on that Memphis team. But Kansas and their deep eight-man team was incredibly well put together. Memphis missed key free throws down the stretch that could have won them the game and Kansas’ Mario Chalmers hit Mario’s miracle at the end of regulation to force overtime and they took over in overtime to win their third program championship.

Davidson 74, Wisconsin 56 – 2008 

We know now Stephen Curry is one of the best basketball players of his entire era, but back in 2008, he was this little guy from a little school who was capturing everybody’s eyes with incredible performances on his way to leading the Wildcats to the Elite Eight. Curry dominated Gonzaga and Georgetown, but with 33 points and six made 3-pointers, the Davidson Wildcats obliterated the third-seeded Wisconsin Badgers in the Sweet 16.

Notre Dame 76, Stephen F. Austin 75 – 2016 

Maybe not one of the games that you think of right away, but Notre Dame and Stephen F. Austin went shot-for-shot the entire game down to the wire. Notre Dame was the power five program against the little guy that was playing their hearts out. Trey Walkup was well known as a scorer and led the Lumberjacks with 21 points. Zach Auguste had a tremendous double-double to lead Notre Dame and Rex Pfleuger tapped one in with 1.5 seconds left to help Notre Dame survive the epic first-round game.

Kentucky 59, Princeton 57 – 2011 

One of my lasting memories of the NCAA Tournament is seeing Princeton head coach Sydney Johnson crying in the press conference after the game after his Tigers came up just a little short against the powerhouse Kentucky Wildcats. They played their hearts out but eventually, a Wildcats team loaded with top NBA talent came up clutch. Brandon Knight was held scoreless for 39 minutes but drove to the basket and sunk a layup with two seconds to put Kentucky over their Ivy League opponent.

MIDWEST REGION

Michigan State 75, Iowa State 64 – 2000

The 1999-2000 Michigan State Spartans were just dominant in the NCAA Tournament. No team even came close to them that year. Iowa State put together a really good squad and Jamaal Tinsley scored 18 points to lead them in this Elite Eight battle, but Mateen Cleaves was too much for everybody. That team very much needs an appearance in this tournament.

Valparaiso 70, Mississippi 69 – 1998

BRYCE DREW! As times expired, Bryce Drew rose up in the corner and sunk and incredible shot to give the Valparaiso Crusaders a victor over Ole Miss. Still to this day, Bryce Drew is a legend of the NCAA tournament because of that shot. It got him to 22 points that game. He put his little Horizon League team on his back against a bigger and more athletic SEC team. Zoran Viskovic scored 19 as well to hold off Ole Miss. That shot will forever be remembered and that upset of the little guys from the little conference beating one of the big boys is every bit why we just love the NCAA Tournament and all the madness that comes with it.

NC State 102, Iowa 96 (2 OT) – 1989

Jimmy Valvano’s 1983 team wasn’t eligible for this tournament since it’s only games taking place since the 1985 expansion, but his second to last season coaching saw the thrilling second-round game against Iowa. Rodney Monroe scored an incredible 40 points while all five starters had double digits. Iowa was led by Ed Horton’s 32 points with B.J. Armstrong and Roy Marble scoring 20 and 24 points, respectively. The game was close throughout. The tied at halftime, tied at the end of regulation, tied after the first overtime. It was only the very end when NC State was finally able to get a little bit of separation.

Louisville 72, Wichita State 68 – 2013

Did Louisville play in 2013? I certainly remember then playing. And I remember this Final Four game happening no matter what the history books tell us. The ninth-seeded Wichita State Shockers lived up to their name and shocked the field in their run to the Final Four. Cleanthony Early was great in this tournament and this game in particular with 24 points, but the Louisville team has everything a team could want. The exceptionally explosive Russ Smith scored 21 points and while their center Gorgui Dieng was held scoreless, the veteran Luke Hancock was incredible off the bench, scoring 20 points. This Louisville team was everything a college basketball team could want and it all came together in a great away.

Oklahoma 80, Oregon 68 – 2016

This Dillon Brooks – Chris Boucher – Elgin Cook team was a great one in Oregon. The Ducks could score with anyone, but Oklahoma was led by a rare senior star. In today’s game when guys jump to the NBA right away, it’s so refreshing to see a guy take some time to develop and become dominant as a senior. Buddy Hield was that guy and he was an electrifying shooter. Against the Ducks, he nailed eight 3-pointers on his ways to a dominant 37 points in this Elite Eight matchup. What a performance.

Indiana 77, LSU 76 – 1987

LSU had three big upset wins to get them, as a No. 10 seed to the Elite Eight against the No. 1 seeded and eventual national champion Indiana Hoosiers and the National Coach of the Year Bobby Knight. One year prior the Tigers were in the Final Four and lost a lot of their top players, but Nikita Wilson was back and scored 20 points against the Hoosiers. But All-American Steve Alford matched those 20 in a thrilling game that went down to the wire and finished with Ricky Calloway’s rebound and lay-in in the final seconds for the win.

Maryland 86, UTEP 83 – 2004 

Two years after winning their 2002 National Championship, with only one sparsely used player from that team still on the squad, a very young Terps squad wasn’t expected to do a ton and weren’t ranked most of the year except for two weeks, coming in at 25th and 24th, respectively, in mid-December. But the Terps team that played only one upperclassman (who wasn’t on the championship squad) grew up a tremendous amount by the end of the year. Maryland shocked Duke in overtime to win the ACC Championship game and knew how to handle tough battles and difficult late-game situations. UTEP was great in 2004, winning 24 games with a high-powered offense. But Maryland got a huge effort out of Chris McCray, who led the game with 19 points, including clutch free throws down the stretch to get the first-round victory.

NOTE: Well…I couldn’t find any bit of video from the Maryland vs. UTEP game. I remember the game, but cannot find any video. So, instead here is video of Maryland beating Duke in the ACC Tournament Finals a few days before 🙂

George Mason 86, Connecticut 84 (OT) – 2006

The run George Mason went on in 2006 was unreal. Many didn’t even think the Patriots should make it into the NCAA Tournament, but they shocked Michigan State in the first round. Then, they upset North Carolina. They bested another mid-major on a run in the Sweet 16, topping Wichita State, but most believed that miracle Elite Eight run would end against UConn. The Huskies were the best team in the country. There was little doubt about that. They are LOADED with future NBA talent. Everybody knew Rudy Gay was going to be a star in the NBA. But George Mason put together one of the greatest upsets ever and one of the greatest collective team performances ever in this game. They beat the much bigger and more athletic Huskies on the glass. When UConn shot 47-percent from the field, you’d figure they would run away with the game, but George Mason made half their overall shots and half of their 3-pointers, including two more overall than UConn made. Jai Lewis and Will Thomas were not nearly as athletic as the Huskies bigs, but they were up for the physical challenge and bullied their way to a combined 39 points. Lamar Butler went 4-for-6 from three for 19 points of his own. The Huskies played great, but George Mason was something special that game.

WEST REGION

Florida 62, Florida Gulf Coast 50 – 2013

Well, I wanted a Dunk City game in here, but the run eventually had to end. They had a better game in 2017 against Florida State, but I couldn’t really fit Florida State into the tournament, and I couldn’t take up a North Carolina game with their Florid Gulf Coast game either. So, their run ends here. But at least something comes out of it. Scottie Wilbekin and Mike Rosario were very fun players to watch. So was this Florida team. The Florida Gulf Coast captain Sherwood Brown scored 17 points, but the Gators were just too much for them.

UCLA 89, Arkansas 78 – 1995

There are a lot of great NCAA Tournament games to pick for UCLA. In the second round of the 1995 tournament, they had a one-point battle with Missouri, but instead, I went with the national championship game that year against Arkansas. Ed O’Bannon scored 30 points and Toby Bailey added 26 to lead the Bruins. Arkansas made 10 3-pointers but just couldn’t handle the more dominant inside play of UCLA.

Gonzaga 77, South Carolina 73 – 2017

South Carolina isn’t exactly known for their basketball, but in 2017 Sindarius Thornwell took over in 2017 and stole the show that year. He did everything he could against Gonzaga in the Final Four, but the Zags had perhaps their best team ever that year, with a remarkably deep and talented squad that suffered just one loss all year until they fell in the Finals. Their big man Przemek Karnowski scored 13 points but battled through some first-half injuries. Nigel Williams-Goss was incredible this game, scoring 23 points. Thornwell had a strong second half and finished with 15 points while three others finished in double digits for the Gamecocks. Both teams have exceptional athletes matching up against exceptions athletes.

Ohio State 85, Tennessee 84 – 2007

Even as a person who grew up a Michigan fan, I have to admit this Ohio State team was great, but Chris Lofton was also an incredible scorer and finished with 24 points this game. Tennessee had a 17 point lead at halftime, but Ohio State stormed back in the second half. Future No. 1 draft pick Greg Oden only managed nine points, but was huge defensively inside, especially on the last play blocking a potential game-winner, while Ron Lewis and Mike Conley were able to find a lot of space on the outside to lead the comeback. Lewis finished with 25 points while Conley scored 17 to go with six assists and seven rebounds.

West Virginia 75, Cincinnati 74 – 1998

Little did we know this could end up being Bob Huggins getting upset by his future team. But what an ending this one was. D’Juan Baker nailed a three with seven seconds left, giving him 25 points and surely his Bearcats a trip to the Sweet 16, but Jarrod West nailed his fifth 3-pointer of the game down at the other end of the court with less than one second to go in the game. Those last few seconds were just unreal. West finished with 15 points, all coming from behind the arc as the Mountaineers battled off the Bearcats, which was 25 point efforts from both Baker and Ruben Patterson and featured a sophomore Kenyon Martin in the starting lineup.

Wake Forest 68, Saint Mary’s 46 – 1997

Okay, okay, not the greatest of games, but watching Tim Duncan dominate in college doesn’t get old. Duncan had 22 points and 22 rebounds in this game to for with five blocks. It was clear in college he was such an exceptional talent. The first half was very competitive but Duncan and the Demon Deacons ran away with things in the second half on their way to a blowout victory.

NOTE: Disappointingly, I found no video of any kind of Wake Forest vs. Saint Mary’s. I did find highlights of Tim Duncan playing Stanford in a second-round loss so here is that video. But for the need to have Wake Forest advance, Wake Forest vs. Saint Mary’s remains the game.

Xavier 79, Texas 71 – 2004

To this point, Xavier was long known as one of those darling Mid-Majors everyone wanted to see win. The year before they were a No. 3 seed. But in 2004, they were a seventh-seeded team and made their deepest run ever to the Elite Eight because of this upset of the third-seeded Texas Longhorns. Romain Sato was unreal in the game, scoring 27 points, including three 3-pointers and an incredible 14 free throws. He just couldn’t stop hitting them down the stretch to keep Texas from even trying to late comeback. Texas saw 21 points come from Brandon Mouton, and 10-point, 10-rebound effort from P.J. Tucker in the game, but the Musketeers were great that game. Lionel Chalmers had 14 points, seven rebounds, and six assists in the game to help Sato, who just couldn’t be stopped.

Georgia State 57, Baylor 56 – 2015

When I think of iconic shot in the NCAA tournament, R.J. Hunter’s against Baylor stands out in memory, especially when his father Ron Hunter, coaching on a rolling chair because he tor his Achilles celebrating the team’s Sub Belt Championship, fell off the chair because he was again celebrating after his son nailed an NBA-range 3-pointer for the win. Even going into the game it was well known R.J. Hunter was a legitimate NBA prospect. He finished with 16 points to lead the Panthers to the upset victory, holding off Tauren Prince and his 18 points for the Bears.

SOUTH REGION

UMBC 74, Virginia 54 – 2018 

Hey, I’m a UMBC graduate. This was the greatest moment in the history of the NCAA Tournament in my eyes. Of course, it’s in my tournament. UMBC wasn’t just happy to be there. Jairus Lyles was a legitimate scoring threat and dominated the game with 28 points. Kyle Guy and Ty Jerome each scored 15 for the No. 1 team in the country, but the Cavaliers were never able to get anything in the game. In the first half point guard, K.J. Maura hit a big shot and his dad ran down the steps with a “fat head” of his son. That was when the crowd got on UMBC’s side. With just over 14 minutes left in the second half, Virginia looked defeated. Their bench looked like they were about to lose the game. Of course, Virginia was always a threat to come back, but the Retrievers wouldn’t let them and just poured it on at the end and became the first No. 16 seed to ever defeat a No. 1 seed, and not just defeat them, but to blow out the No. 1 overall seed.

Georgetown 98, Texas Tech 90 – 1996 

Allen Iverson was a star even back in college and we all knew it. Iverson exploded in this game, going off for 32 points. He was small, but fearlessly drove to the basket and made incredible plays. He was incredible in this Sweet 16 game against a great Texas Tech team that only lost two games all year before this game. Jason Sasser scored 25 points while Koy Smith and Corey Carr added 16 for the high-powered Red Raiders, but Iverson had plenty of help. Othella Harrington scored 23 points and Victor Page had 17 to help out as the Hoyas pulled away in the second half to get the win.

NOTE: UGH!!! Another great game I can’t find any video for. So here are highlights of Allen Iverson at Georgetown.

Pittsburgh 84, VCU 79 (OT) – 2007 

Making this matchup even better was VCU go there by upsetting Duke in the First Round! Pittsburgh held a 19 point lead but fell apart in the second half. They were outscored 43-28 after the break and the game was tied 69-69. Levance Fields missed two free throws that would have won the game if he just made one with two seconds left. But Fields and the Panthers made up for it in overtime. Fields nailed a crucial 3-pointer, followed by another crucial one by Ronald Roman to give Pittsburgh a seven-point lead in the extra session. Jesse Pellot-Rosa has a 20-point game, including multiple big shots to keep VCU alive in overtime, but Pittsburgh was able to keep their distance and made their free throws to get the win. B.A. Walker joined Pellot-Rosa with 20 points while Sam Young led Pitt with 15 points in the game to survive.

NOTE: Okay, maybe finding videos of all these games hasn’t been as successful as I’ve hoped, but I can still enjoy watching Eric Maynor and VCU ousting Duke in the first round in 2007.

Villanova 73, Robert Morris 70 (OT) – 2010

Believe it or not, Villanova has some epic games in the NCAA Tournament, but not too many classics to look back at. Originally, when I created this I had Villanova meeting Duke in the finals, but their 2009 tournament meeting just really wasn’t that good of a game. It was good for someone who hates Duke, but not really to watch. This game, though, was a surprise in their tournament history. Villanova put together a great team in 2010 but was forced to overtime by little Robert Morris. Karon Abraham scored 23 points, sinking five 3-pointers. Scottie Reynolds went just 1-for-8 from distance in the game for the Wildcats but went a remarkable 15-for-16 from the line as he scored 20 points. Mouphtaou Yarou scored 17. Villanova was taken to the brink but was able to survive in overtime against a Colonials squad that left absolutely everything on the floor.

North Carolina 75, Illinois 70 – 2005

Illinois put together a phenomenal team in 2005. They had the great guards that dominate the NCAA Tournament. Luther Head scored 21 points with five made 3-pointers while future NBA All-Star Deron Williams had 17 points and seven assists and Dee Brown, who was the star of that team, scored 12 points with seven assists. But the Tar Heels were unstoppable in 2005. This was a national championship of clearly the two best teams in the country. Sean May took advantage of the inside mismatch and dominated the game with 26 points and 10 rebounds while Raymond Felton controlled the floor and finished with 17 points and seven assists. Roy Williams solidified himself as the Tar Heels head coach in his second season with the team after a successful career in Kansas by winning his first national championship with the victory over the Illini.

Vermont 60, Syracuse 57 (OT) – 2005

Every single year when I want to get jacked up for the NCAA Tournament I watch the end of this game. Gus Johnson on the call made it even better because he just went crazy on play-by-play. But it matched how amazing this was. Just two years after winning the national championship Syracuse put together another really good team. Hakim Warrick and Gerry McNamara were still around and combined for 32 points, but Vermont saw huge games from Germain Mopa Njila, T.J. Sorrentine, and Taylor Coppernath. While Mope Njila led Vermont with 20 points, it was Sorrentine “from the parking lot” which was the key play in overtime. Mopa Njila nailed a three with just under two minutes left in overtime. Syracuse went back down the court and turned the ball over. Vermont, with a 56-55 lead, Sorrentine was left alone near the center court logo and with 1:06 left in OT, he rose up, wide open and hit one of the most incredible long-distance shots one could make that wasn’t just a desperation heave. It put Vermont up 59-55 with 66 seconds left and that was enough to capture the improbable Catamounts victory. As a UMBC alum, I don’t actually like Vermont, but this moment was way too amazing for me not to love.

Seton Hall 67, Temple 65 (OT) – 2000

A second-round classic of a game, Temple was the No. 2 seed and the beloved mid-major powerhouse while Seton Hall was a Big East power and the two matched up for a great game. Mark Karcher was great for the Owls, scoring 27 points, but Seton Hall had their start come up huge. Ty Shine nailed seven 3-pointers for 26 points off the bench while Rimas Kaukenas and Darius Lane scored 18 and 16, respectively. Temple took an early 11 point lead and Seton Hall center Samuel Dalembert was battling foul trouble. Seton Hall was in a bad way, but they pulled it together and battled to a lead late in the game. Then, Karcher hit a three from the wing with 24.7 seconds left to tie things up. Kevin Wilkins missed a late shot for the Pirates. In overtime, Karcher put Temple up 65-63 with just a few seconds left but Shine nailed a three to retake the lead before Greg Morton made one of his two late free throws to clinch the upset victory.

NOTE: SMH…Well, another game there is no video of, but here is an amazing regular-season game in which Temple upset the No. 1 Cincinnati Bearcats. It goes to show how good this Temple team was and why this 10-2 upset was a huge deal.

Michigan 64, Houston 63 – 2018

The brass on Michigan freshman Jordan Poole in this second-round game. Trailing 63-61, Houston looking like they are about to go to the Sweet 16, Poole, who has been struggling heading into the game and who played 11 minutes in the game, went up, split-legged, and sunk the game-winner as the buzzer sounded. Star player Muhammad Abdur-Rakhman had the ball in his hands, tossed it to his right to Poole and he took the shot from incredible distance with a defender in his face and sunk it. What a play. That Wolverines team has some very good talent on it with Abdur-Rakhman, Mo Wagner, Duncan Robinson, and it was the freshman who made the shot. This game was more than just one shot though. Michigan and Houston were well-matched opponents. Michigan made eight straight free throws to take a 57-54 lead in the second half, but a three by Armoni Brooks tied the back-and-forth game. Wagner got Michigan back ahead, but a classic three-point play by Devin Davis got his team back ahead. Another Wagner layup and two more free throws by Davis got up to 62-61. Davis missed one of his next two free throws and it turned out to be crucial because Houston was only up by two. He then missed two more that could have sealed the victory. Those missed allowed Michigan the chance to win the game with a three, and Poole delivered.

Second Round

EAST REGION

Duke 79, UNLV 77 – 1991

A Final Four rematch of the previous year’s national championship game. The remarkably talented UNLV squad overwhelmed and ran away for a 30-point victory the year before, but in 1991, Duke got their revenge on their way to their first of back-to-back titles. Anderson Hunt and Greg Anthony dominated the outside and combined for 48 points while National Player of the Year Larry Johnson had 13 points and 13 rebounds. But Christian Laettner wouldn’t be denied by UNLV a second year. Laettner scored 28 points, shooting 64.3-percent from the floor, while Bobby Hurley, who ended up taking tournament MOP honors, scored 12 points. Grant Hill had 11 but was masterful in the game and had five assists and five boards. UNLV was supposed to dominate the game, going into it undefeated and on their way to another national title. UNLV had beaten their previous 34 opponents this year by 27.5 points per game. This was Duke and they were a No. 2 seed, but this was a big upset back in 1991.

Arizona 96, Providence 92 (OT) – 1997

Providence was on an impressive run as a No. 10 seed, blowing out three-straight opponents, including Marquette, Duke and another Cinderella Chattanooga on their way to the Elite Eight. There they met Arizona, the eventual National Champions. But Arizona almost didn’t make to the Final Four as the only non-No. 1 seed there. Providence and Arizona featured two of the best young point guards around. God Shammgod and freshman Mike Bibby were great. Shammgod was a great driver and Bibby was a better shooter but both were floor generals. Shammgod and Jamel Tomas scored 23 points each while Derrick Brown and Ruben Garces had 18 and 16 points respectively. The Providence starting five scored every point in the game and played a game, but Miles Simon had 30 points, and Arizona saw six guys in double digits, including 17 from Bibby and 11 by Jason Terry off the bench. The game was close from start to finish. This one was a real battle. Arizona led by seven points, 85-78, with 75 seconds left, but Providence roared back and Thomas tied the game with 13 seconds left. Providence had one more chance for the game-winning shot attempt but should not get it off. Arizona took control in overtime and gutted out the win.

Kansas 59, Davidson 57 – 2008

I would have loved to have Northern Iowa’s buzzer-beater over Texas and buzzer-beater over Kansas in this tournament, but I needed Texas for their game against Xavier and I wanted to have Stephen Curry in here with the Wisconsin win and this game more than those two great games and miracle Panthers shots. In this game, Curry was incredible again, scoring 25 points, but the magic ran out. Kansas was just so deep and talented they were able to shut down the rest of the Wildcats. Sasha Kaun came off the bench to match Mario Chalmers with a team-high 13 points while Brandon Rush scored 12. It was a balanced effort and Kansas also showed their great defensive ability on their way to the title. It didn’t come without drama, though. Sherron Collins missed shot with 21 seconds to give Curry another chance, but the defense doubled him and refused to let him be the guy to end upset them. Curry had to pass to Jason Richards. He got off a shot attempt, but it hit the backboard and missed. Again, Kansas showed their great defensive ability on their way to their championship.

Kentucky 68, Notre Dame 66 – 2015

While the Wildcats got upset later in the tournament, this might have been their best team ever. Kentucky was looking to become the first undefeated champion in 39 years but had to gut out a win against an underdog Notre Dame squad despite the 32 wins they accumulated throughout the year. Fighting Irish center Zach Auguste scored a team-high 20 points with nine boards while guards Steve Vasturia and Jerian Grant came through with 16 and 15 points, respectively. Pat Connaughton was great all tournament long and while he struggled scoring, he made an impact defensively and in so many other ways in this game. However, Kentucky got 25 points from future No. 1 overall pick Karl-Anthony Towns while Andrew Harrison made clutch free throws down the stretch to secure the victory in a game that featured 20 lead changes, 12 ties and in which the largest lead any team had was just six points.

MIDWEST REGION

Michigan State 65, Valparaiso 54 – 2013

Valpo has a nice little run to the Sweet 16 back in 1998, but in this, their magic runs out after their classic victory over Ole Miss. Michigan didn’t even let it be close as they built up a huge first-half lead. Ben Boggs and Erik Buggs scored 15 and 14 points, respectively, but with 23 points from Derrick Nix Michigan State rolled through for the victory.

Louisville 75, NC State 65 – 2015

Montrezl Harrell and Terry Rozier took over this game for Louisville. Harrell scored 24 points while Rozier had an impressive 17 points, 14 rebound double-double. Louisville trailed at halftime but outplayed the Wolfpack in the second half. Still, despite NC State falling behind, Ralston Turner got it back within one point with less than five minutes left with one of his four 3-pointers in the game. He scored 12 points, all from behind the line. Trevor Lacey led NC State with 18 points in the game. NC State hit clutch free throws. Rozier scored eight points, including a pair of classic three-point plays to secure the win.

Indiana 94, Oklahoma 87 (OT) – 1998

A great first-round matchup between two evenly-matched teams. This was a til of two halves, with Indiana winning the first half and Oklahoma storming back in the second to force overtime. Andrae Patterson scored 26 points while A.J. Guyton scored 23 and Luke Recker had 21 for the Hoosiers. At the break, Indiana has an 11 points lead, 46-35. In the second half, the script was flipped. Corey Brewer ended the game with 22 points while Ryan Humphrey scored 18 in the game. They forced a tie at 80-80 at the end of regulation. Indiana eventually seized control in overtime, but it was a thriller until the end.

Maryland 83, George Mason 80 – 2001

George Mason’s entire 2006 run was incredible, but this lesser-remembered game against the Terps was great. The Terps and Patriots players knew each other quite well. The players grew up near each other in the DC metro area and they came up playing against each other. Maryland was one year away from becoming a national champion, but they were tested by this George Mason squad. 30-year-old Army veteran and three-time CAA Player of the Year George Evans was literally a man among boys on the floor and scored 27 points, just dominating inside no matter how many defenders they thew at him. His bald head and police officer mustache with arms bigger than some of the Maryland player’s thighs, he looked like the old guy at the YMCA who overpowers all the young guys on the court. I’d bet Maryland’s big used more ice than ever after he just bullied his way down low the entire game. Byron Mouton was able to keep tough enough and scored 22 points before Juan Dixon heated up and matched those 22 points. George Mason led at halftime, but the Terps were able to escape with a victory. After Evans put a put-back and-one late in the game, Steve Blake nailed a go-ahead three in response to help secure the win.

WEST REGION

Florida 76, UCLA 66 – 2007

A rematch of the previous year’s national championship, both games were worthy and of course, this one missed Jordan Farmar, but the Gators were just so incredible and there was no doubt they were going to take it all again in 2007 after everybody decided to come back with plans of repeating at champions. UCLA has the nation’s top defense going against the Gators’ dominant offense. Lee Humphrey was considered the weak link of the dominant Florida starting five but nailed four three’s and scored 14 points. Eventual Most Outstanding Player Corey Brewer also hit four three’s and led the Gators with 19 points. Big men Joakim Noah and Al Horford failed to reach double-digits scoring but were both difference-makers inside. Noah had 11 boards with four blocks while Horford has 17 rebounds. With Chris Richard making a name for himself off the bench with 16 points, the Gators just overwhelmed UCLA. The Bruins had major talent. Arron Afflalo scored 17 points while Josh Shipp led UCLA with 18 but the Gators ultimately were just too much for them a second year in a row. They were too much for everybody for two years in a row.

Gonzaga 84, Ohio State 80 – 2018

Zach Norvell. Jr. was incredible in this game. As a freshman, he led the Zags with 28 points, 12 rebounds and was 6-for-11 from distance in a tough game against Ohio State. Gonzaga took a big lead early in the game and used that to withstand a run by the Buckeyes in the second half. Keita Bates-Diop matched Norvell’s 28 points while Kam Williams and C.J. Jackson scored 19 and 18 points, respectively. Rui Hachimura barely played the year before for the Final Four squad but understood it was his time to shine in 2018. He scored 25 points on 9-for-11 shooting with six added three throws.

West Virginia 111, Wake Forest 105 (2OT) – 2005

Man, what a game. I still can’t believe the Kevin Pittsnogle team beat the Chris Paul team, but that’s college basketball and that’s the NCAA tournament. Wake Forest was a very good No. 2 seed and West Virginia was a gritty No. 7 seed. Sometimes there are close overtime games that neither team wants to win. This was a close double-overtime epic that neither team wanted to lose. Chris Paul scored 22 points and had nine assists but Taron Downey nailed six threes in the game for a team-high 27 points while Eric Williams scored 23 points. John Beilein showed his amazing coaching chops by helping his West Virginia team over-achieve. Make Gansey ended with 29 points and Tyrone Sally scored 21. Wake Forest appeared to be running away with the game as they led by 13 points at the break. But Beilein got his team together and they roared back in the second half. The game was disappointing on the one regard that each team had three players, including two starters, foul out by the end of the game, including Paul and Sally, but both teams were masterful down the stretch to force overtime and double overtime.

Xavier 75, Georgia State 67 – 2015

After Georgia State upset Baylor with a clutch shot by R.J. Hunter they put up a decent fight against Xavier, but they wouldn’t have that sort of magic a third game in a row, going back to their Atlantic Sun Championship game. Both teams shot well over 50-percent. Hunter scored 20 points to lead the Panthers, but Xavier could score in too many ways. Trevon Bluiett was only held to three points in 15 minutes as he battled foul trouble but Jalen Reynolds came off the bench and scored 21 points while Myles Davis had 17 points also off the bench. Xavier more than doubled Georgia State on the boards in the game for the win.

SOUTH REGION

Georgetown 66, UMBC 43 – 2008 

I was actually at this game, covering UMBC as a freshman writing for the student newspaper on the men’s basketball beat. I was there all year following this team, one press row during the game. That Retrievers squad was a very fun one and even though they got handled by a much bigger and more athletic Georgetown team, it was great to see those guys in the tournament. I had to get their win over Virginia in the tournament, so I put this 2008 squad in for the loss even though the Kansas State game was more competitive. Darryl Proctor was a very short 6-foot-4 but scored 16 points in the game. UMBC struggled to get going when Georgetown put the 7-foot-2 on Retriever point guard Jay Greene defensively. Greene was 5-foot-8 standing on a phone book and facilitated everything that year, but couldn’t pass around Hibbert with any sort of success. Hibbert scored 13 points while Jonathan Wallace scored 13. Still, this was the second game I ever saw live at the NCAA tournament. The first was Stephen Curry dominating Gonzaga right before this one, but I loved being there, I loved this UMBC team, it was my school making their first trip to the tournament and it holds special memories for me.

Villanova 78 Pittsburgh 76 – 2009 

Pittsburgh has a fantastic season and earned a No. 1 seed but Villanova was right with them all year long and pulled off the mild Elite Eight upset. It was a close game throughout. They showed they were match up incredibly well. They knew each other well being Big East opponents and the game was back-and-forth with many lead changes. The change that mattered the most came at the end. After DeJuan Blair hit a layup and Levance Fields made two free throws just a few seconds left to tie the game at 76-76, Pittsburgh seemed poised to force overtime. However, Scottie Reynolds stormed down the lane and with 0.5 seconds left he put in the game-winning score to lift the Wildcats to victory. Reynolds finished the game with 15 points while Dwayne Anderson scored a team-high 17. Pittsburgh saw a tremendous effort by Sam Young, who finished with 28 points, while DeJuan Blair scored 20. Reynolds was just a clutch player and came up with the clutch basket in the final seconds to lift the Wildcats to victory in a great game.

North Carolina 77, Vermont 58 – 2012

Eh, this is probably at my peak of cheering against Vermont as a UMBC alum, but the Syracuse upset had to be here and this was an easier loss to fit into the tournament than their Michigan State loss was (since I had the Spartans ending another darling team Valpo this round.) Vermont was a defensive team that wasn’t exciting to watch offensively. They were able to relatively control the tempo and play tough defense against the No. 1 seed, holding the Tar Heels to only 77 points, but this UNC squad was just too much for the Catamounts. Tyler Zeller and James Michael McAdoo each scored 17 points. Zeller also had 15 boards. Harrison Barnes scored 14 and point guard Kendall Marshall had an 11 point, 10 assist double-double.

Michigan 80, Seton Hall 79 (OT) – 1989

Steve Fisher somehow took over the Wolverines program at the beginning of the NCAA tournament and managed to coach them to a National Championship after Bill Frieder was forced to leave immediately when he agreed to take a different coaching job at Arizona State the next season. Despite the coaching change, Michigan made a run to the National Championship. Glen Rice was just that good that he couldn’t even be stopped by the adversity. He scored 31 points in the title game while Rumeal Robinson scored 21 to led the Wolverines. Seton Hall put up a great effort with John Morton scoring an incredible 35 points. Michigan trailed by three with less than a minute left in overtime. Terry Mills hit a turnaround jumper to cut the deficit before a defensive stop and two made free throws by Robinson put Michigan ahead. Seton Hall had a shot at winning it, but the last-second heave was short and the Wolverines captured the championship at the end of a thriller.

Sweet 16

EAST REGION

Duke 82, Arizona 72 – 2001

Maybe not the most competitive national championship game from beginning to end, but it was a fun one. Shane Battier is also one of the few Duke players I did and do love watching (Grant Hill and Zion Williamson are the others). Battier deserved this title and scored 18 points with 11 boards and six rebounds while Mike Dunleavy nailed five triples for a team-best 12 points and Jay Williams scored 16. Carlos Boozer was a force inside off the bench and has 12 points and 12 rebounds and played great defense throughout the entire game. Arizona played a competitive first half and had their chances in the second half but eventually, Duke was able to pull away. Loren Woods led Arizona with 11 points while Richard Jefferson and Gilbert Arenas has 19 and 10 points, respectively.

Kentucky 67, Kansas 59 – 2012

Again, not necessarily the most competitive of national championship games, but the winner was a truly great team. Kentucky was loaded, so loaded that it didn’t even matter that National Player of the Year Anthony Davis didn’t even have a good night offensively. But Davis still powered his team to a win. He realized early it wasn’t going to be his night scoring, so he focused on everything else. He finished the game with 16 rebounds, five assists, three steals, and a remarkable six blocks to go with his six points. Kentucky was able to get off to a hot start in the game as Michael Kidd-Gilchrist hit early shots. He finished the game with 11, but Doron Lamb led the Wildcats with 22 points. While it was clear Kansas was out-matched, TyShawn Taylor and Thomas Robinson did all they could. They combined for 37 points and had the game cut to as close as seven points in the second half, but Kentucky just wasn’t going to collapse and they pulled away for the win.

MIDWEST REGION

Michigan State 76, Louisville 70 (OT) – 2015

Louisville was building a nice cushy lead in the first half, taking a 40-32 lead into the break, but Tom Izzo made halftime adjustments and his seventh-seeded Spartans were able to come back against the fourth-seeded Cardinals. With 2:43 left Denzel Valentine nailed a layup to give Michigan State an improbable 63-58 lead. Louisville responded with a tremendous six-point run, including a three and two made free throws by Wayne Blackshear to put Louisville back ahead with 73 seconds left. Marvin Clark Jr. got the lead right back with a jumper and Mangok Mathiang tied the game with five seconds left with a made free throw. However, the second one would not fall and the two teams were headed to overtime. In OT, Michigan State scored quick on their first possession but the next field goal wouldn’t come until there was just 2:01 left when Valentine made another layup to put Michigan State ahead by six. The Spartans would not let up or let Louisville back into the game as they continued their run to the Final Four. Travis Trice left Michigan State with 17 points while Valentine scored 15. Louisville got 28 points from Blackshear and 16 from Montrezl Harrell, but it wasn’t enough for the Spartans second half and overtime rally.

Maryland 64, Indiana 52 – 2002

While Maryland vs. Kansas in the Final Four was pretty much viewed as the de-facto national championship game, it was still impossible to ignore Indiana and their star Jared Jeffries. He had a great tournament, but Juan Dixon was unstoppable in his run to capture the National Championship. Dixon scored 18 points and was just incredible in the game while Lonny Baxter had a dominant 15 points and 14 rebounds. Chris Wilcox further helped dominate inside with 10 points and seven boards. Indiana couldn’t match up with Maryland inside and it helped Dixon even more in his legendary run to greatness. The Terps cut down the net. It might have been a lop-sided game, but hey, I’ve made it pretty clear I’m a Terps fan. My 12-year-old self was going nuts watching this game.

WEST REGION

Gonzaga 73, Florida 72 – 1999

Who doesn’t love Gonzaga? Maybe not Florida fans but back before these past few years of Gonzaga dominance they were the loveable underdog. That started in 1999. They had one tournament game in 1995, a blowout loss to Maryland before they were a 10 seed in 1999, but 1999 was when they started on the road to becoming the basketball powerhouse they are today. They upset Minnesota and Stanford before upsetting Florida in the Sweet 16 and moving on to the Elite Eight. It was an absolute battle. The Gators did absolutely everything they could to get ahead and pull away from Gonzaga but the Bulldogs refused. Florida took a late lead but Gonzaga had enough time for another change. Quentin Hall took a running shot from the lane. It wouldn’t go down but Casey Calvery got the tip-in for his team-best 17th points of the game and that was enough for the victory. Florida had one more attempt with Eddie Shannon running down the side, but with time winding down he had to rush his shot and take it while facing good defense. It did hit the rim but didn’t sink and Gonzaga’s Cinderella run continued.

Xavier 79, West Virginia 75 (OT) – 2008

This Sweet 16 battle was sweet. Joe Alexander and Da’Sean Butler were great for the Mountaineers, scoring 18 and 16 points, respectively, but Josh Duncan was just unstoppable for the Musketeers. He scored a game-best 26 points to lead Xavier. West Virginia had no hope of stopping him. He helped build a big first-half lead for Xavier. It looked like they were going to run away with the game early when they took a 28-10 lead just over 11 minutes into the game. But Wellington Smith scored seven-straight of the Mountaineer’s points during their 9-0 run to get back into the game. Xavier still carried a seven-point lead into the break but the Mountaineers were playing tough in the second half. With 14 seconds left Joe Alexander hit a mid-range jumper to tie the game and drew the foul. He missed the go-ahead free throw and Drew Lavender missed the go-ahead jumper for Xavier at the end of regulation. West Virginia carried the momentum into overtime and had a 74-72 lead with 1:38 left but B.J. Raymond nailed back-to-back 3-pointers to put Xavier back ahead for good, the second coming with just 30 seconds left in overtime. Those were Raymond’s only two made threes of the game. Alexander built momentum of becoming an NBA lottery pick during this tournament and this game as he scored 18 points and 10 rebounds while Butler scored 16. Joe Mazzulla blossomed into a future starter for the Mountaineers with 10 points and five assists in the game off the bench.

SOUTH REGION

Villanova 66, Georgetown 64 – 1985

Some call this National Championship game the biggest upset in college basketball history. Many felt when Georgetown beat Chris Mullins’ St. John’s squad in the Final Four their game against the Cinderella Wildcats was just a formality before naming them National Champions, but the scrappy Big East rival played as perfect a game as they possibly could. Patrick Ewing was the most dominant force in college basketball but the eighth-seeded Wildcats just refused to be intimidated. Ed Pinckney had the game of his life, scoring 16 points with six rebounds and five assists. The Wildcats set a record for field goal percentage in a National Championship game, making 78.6-percent. Georgetown on their own made 54.7-percent, typically a great game for any team. Ewing ended up with 14 points while David Wingate scored 16, but as good as they played, there was just no denying the Wildcats. Dwayne McClain led them with 17 points.

North Carolina 77, Michigan 71 – 1993 

This was supposed to be the Fab Five’s year. They took the college basketball world by storm for two years in the early 1990s and their sophomore season they dominated opponents. They left the 1992 tournament heart-broken after falling to Duke in the finals and were on a mission to win it all the next year. But the ending of that National Championship game couldn’t have gone worse. With only 20 seconds left in the game, down by two, Chris Webber rebounded the second missed free throw by North Carolina. Webber got away with a travel, ran down the court and got trapped in the corner and called a timeout with 11 seconds left, hoping to set his team up with an opportunity to tie or win the game. The problem was his team was out of timeouts, so it was a technical foul, allowing UNC two free throw attempts and possession of the ball. That cost the Wolverines any opportunity to come back into the game. It was heart-breaking for Webber and his team, but before that crazy moment, it was a very competitive game between two No. 1 seeds. Webber scored 23 points and had 11 rebounds and three blocks while Jimmy King and Jalen Rose scored 15 and 12 respectively. Meanwhile, the Champion Tar Heels were led by a 25-point effort by Donald Williams with 16 from Eric Montross. George Lynch battled Webber inside and finished with 12 points and 10 rebounds.

Elite Eight

EAST REGION

Duke 104, Kentucky 103 (OT) – 1992

Some consider this the best game ever, and it features maybe the most iconic shot in college basketball history. At the end of overtime with Duke down by one, Grant Hill threw an absolutely perfect inbound pass down the court to Christian Laettner. He caught it at the free throw line, took one dribble, turn around and let it fly and it went in, getting Duke to the Final Four. Laettner was a star before then, but with 31 points and that game-winner, while shooting 10-for-10 from the floor and 10-for-10 from the line, he showed everyone why he was the best around. Scrappy point guard Bobby Hurley scored 22 points with 10 assists in that game while Thomas Hill had 19 for Duke. Kentucky made 56.9-percent of their shots in that game, including 12 made 3-pointers at a 54.5-percent clip. Jamal Mashburn and Sean Woods combined for 49 points in the game. To get into overtime, Deron Feldhaus put back a Pelphrey miss to tie the game. Hurley had a chance to win it for Duke but missed his shot. Overtime saw the lead go back-and-forth. Woods hit a running one-hander in the land over Laettner to put Kentucky ahead in the final seconds, but Laettner’s historic shot went down for the win.

MIDWEST REGION

Michigan State 85, Maryland 83 – 2010

Man, as a Maryland fan this one was truly a heart-breaker but I do recognize how great of a game this one was. Michigan State had a great first half but with Kalin Lucas suffering a leg injury the Terps were able to rally back in the second half. Greivis Vasquez was great in the game, scoring 26 points for the Terps while Eric Hayes had 18 and Jordan Williams had a 10-point, 10-rebound double-double. Durrell Summers did his part to keep Michigan State from blowing the game, scoring 26 points, but in the final seconds, right after a jumper by Vasquez put Maryland up 83-82, the Spartans took the ball down the court. Draymond Green was as the top of the key, a screen freed up Lucas’ replacement Korie Lucious for a game-winning three-point attempt and it went in. Lucious played 28 minutes in relief and scored 13 points. That three as the buzzer sounded was his third made triple of the game and none were bigger or more clutch.

WEST REGION

Gonzaga 79, Xavier 75 – 2006

With National Co-Player of the Year Adam Morrison leading the Gonzaga Bulldogs, this was the team everyone thought could break through and get the Zags to the Final Four. Ultimately, they wouldn’t make it that far, but they were in an incredible battle against the other Mid-Major darling everyone loves in the first round. Xavier was just a 14-seed after going on a run to claim an automatic qualifier as the Atlantic-10 Champion. Stanley Burrell led Xavier with 22 points while Justin Cage had 16. After Derek Raivio tied the game a 44-44 at 16:03 in the second half, Xavier made three-straight threes over the next two and a half minutes to take a nine-point lead. But Morrison took over and led his team to the victory. He scored 35 points in that game, including four 3-pointers, while J.P. Batista scored 18 and no other Bulldog reached double-digits.

NOTE: And again…nothing from this game. Plenty from the lop-sided 2017 blowout, but not this 2006 game. So instead, here is a video looking back on Adam Morrison’s remarkable college career.

SOUTH REGION

North Carolina 67, Villanova 66 – 2005

I was tempted to go with Villanova’s championship victory over UNC when Kris Joseph nailed the game-winning buzzer-beater, but again Villanova’s depth of epics just wasn’t there to keep advancing them. But this game was a good one. Back when Randy Foye was leading the Wildcats, he scored 28 points while Kyle Lowry had 18. They played toe-to-toe against the eventual champion Tar Heels. While Sean May was great throughout the tournament and had 14 points and 10 rebounds, Marvin Williams was a dominant force this game with 16 points while Rashad McCants had 17 in the game. Felton also has 11 points. In this game, the Tar Heels were great from outside, nailing eight three’s to hold off the Wildcats. Lowry sunk a three with just over two seconds left to make it a one-point game. It was just his fifth 3-pointer all year! May struggled twice to in-bound the pass but time ran out on Lowry’s desperation heave from the opponent’s three-point line and the Tar Heels escaped with the win.

Final Four

Michigan State 68, Duke 67 – 2019 

It was a recent one but it was a great one. And I can’t have Duke win this thing, seriously. Cassius Winston played an incredible game, scoring 20 points, but also ripping apart Duke with his stellar passing as he also added 10 assists. Duke got out to an early lead on the efforts of Zion Williamson, who finished the game with 24 points and 14 rebounds on 10-for-19 shooting. But Winston got his entire team involved. Xavier Tillman, Sr. ended up scoring 19 points for Michigan State. It was a very close game after the early goings of the game. Late in the game, the lead started to exchange a few times. R.J. Barrett had a big game of his own, scoring 21 points, while Javin DeLaurier was very consistent throughout and had 10 points, 11 boards, and three blocks. With 1:44 left in the game, following an R.J. Barrett three, Williams nailed a jumper to give Duke a 66-63 lead. Then, Winston found Tillman for a layup and Kenny Goins sunk a three on the Spartans’ next possession to get the lead back. Barrett couldn’t think the go-head three but Duke did get the offensive rebounds to try again. Barrett was fouled and had two shots to try to tie the game. However, he would only make one and the highly-hyped Blue Devils would fall to the scrappy Michigan State squad that many felt was over-seeded as a No. 2 seed.

NOTE: To just watch the highlights, the YouTube video has been embedded, but to watch the full game, click HERE. The full game video has embedding blocked.

North Carolina 71, Gonzaga 65 – 2017 

Both teams were sentimental favorites in this game. North Carolina suffered a heart-breaking loss on the final shot the year before to Villanova in the national championship game and Gonzaga is, well, Gonzaga. They put together a great National Championship game. Featuring 11 ties and 12 lead changes, Joel Berry II ended up with 22 points while Justin Jackson scored 16 and Isaiah Hicks finished with 13 for North Carolina. Despite Gonzaga has tremendous size and depth inside, the Tar Heels outscored them 40-18 in the paint, but the Bulldogs made eight three-pointers. Josh Perkins had three of them on his way to 13 points. Nigel Williams Goss was spectacular with 15 points, nine rebounds, and six assists. Williams-Goss nailed a three with 4:39 left to give Gonzaga a 60-59 lead before Berry responded with a three of his own to put UNC back ahead. A free throw and a jumper by Williams-Goss got Gonzaga back up with 2:25 and in response to a Jackson free throw, he hit another jumper to give Gonzaga a 65-63 lead with just under two minutes left. But UNC locked down on defense and ended the game on an eight-point run to claim another national championship.

Finals

North Carolina 89, Michigan State 72 – 2009

I’m sure I maybe could have put this tournament together differently to give a better national championship game, but I also absolutely loved this North Carolina Tar Heels team. It was finally the year Tyler Hansbrough got his championship. He carried UNC following the Sean May title, and came close before, suffered some heart-breaks, but in 2009 he would not be denied and it was so obvious he wouldn’t be. In that Championship game, he scored 18 points with seven rebounds and nobody could stop him. Ty Lawson was a smooth floor general with a team-best 21 points, eight assists, and six rebounds. The sharp-shooting Wayne Ellington scored 19 points, including a 3-for-3 effort from distance while Danny Green showed why he is such a valuable three-and-D guy in the NBA. The Spartans had a quality team and got a 17-point, 11-rebounds double-double out of Goran Suton and 12 points from Kalin Lucas, but there was nothing they could do to stop the Tar Heels from completing their mission of winning it all.

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Corey Johns

Editor in Chief
You could say Corey was born to become a sports journalist. His father won a national championship coaching college soccer. His mother is a baseball fanatic who hasn't missed seeing an Orioles game since 1983 (literally, sometimes it's annoying). His great uncle was a big-time boxing promoter and his maternal grandfather was once a department head at the Baltimore Sun. Basically, sports and journalism run through his blood. He played just about every little league sports there was when he was a kid and was a multi-sport athlete in high school; even playing in the first-ever high school sanction Rugby game in the country. Eventually he retired from sports as an undefeated Maryland state Rugby champion as a high school senior. Perhaps lack of athletic talent has more to do with the retirement, but he will tell you that it more had to do with a great desire to jump right into media. Upon his graduation from University of Maryland, Baltimore County as a triple communications major, Corey started the So Much Sports network and has continued to grow his websites and continues to work to make them premier sports media outlets.

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