Buzzer-beaters are a staple of the postseason in college basketball, but this year, even the regular season has been loaded with astounding finishes. From coast-to-coast dashes to half-court heaves, there’s been something for everyone in the final seconds of some of this season’s marquee matchups.
Among many scintillating overtime games on the year, few have provided bigger upsets than Villanova’s home-court stunner over Syracuse. The Orange looked ready to escape from Philly with a win until gun-slinging freshman Ryan Arcidiacono stroked a three-pointer with 2.2 seconds on the clock to send the game to an extra session.
Herein, a closer look at Arcidiacono’s game-saver and the rest of the 10 most amazing finishes in the country in 2012-13.
Before we start on the list properly, let's pay homage to a buzzer-beater that almost was. On January 3, mighty Arizona was still unbeaten, but the Wildcats had gotten all they could handle on their home floor against unranked Colorado.
With the game tied in the waning seconds, the Buffs’ Sabatino Chen fired what could have been a game-winning three-pointer.
After an extended review, though, the officials decided that Chen hadn’t quite launched his bomb in time, sending the game to OT (where the Wildcats would run away with the victory).
It may not have been quite on Tyus Edney’s level, but Kevin Pangos pulled off a pretty impressive coast-to-coast drive to keep Gonzaga unbeaten in early December.
The No. 10 Zags were on the road against local rival Washington State, and the Cougars were thinking OT upset after DaVonte Lacy’s lay-in tied the game with 7.8 seconds to play.
Pangos, who had hit just one of his 11 shots on the night, took the inbounds pass inside his own foul line and proceeded to outrun most of the players on both teams. His scoop went high off the glass and in, and Gonzaga improved to 9-0 on the young season.
Miami hasn’t lost since Christmas Day, and even then, the Hurricanes didn’t go down easy. A defensive duel with Indiana State in the Diamond Head Classic came down to the wire in overtime, still tied at 55.
Sycamores point guard Jake Odum, who had just seven points in the game at the time, called his own number for the team’s biggest shot of the year.
With an up-and-under move from the free-throw line, the senior outmaneuvered 6’5” Trey McKinney Jones to bank in the deciding bucket with 0.8 seconds to play.
By the time Syracuse arrived at the Wells Fargo Center last month, the hometown Villanova Wildcats had already stunned then-No. 5 Louisville just four days earlier.
The third-ranked Orange got a fight of their own, but appeared to have held off a tough ‘Nova squad when James Bell’s three-pointer stuck with seven seconds to play.
The Wildcats kept battling, though, getting an offensive board from Mouphtaou Yarou, who kicked out to freshman Ryan Arcidiacono for a game-saving three-pointer.
The ensuing overtime went the home team’s way, giving Villanova its second straight massive upset by a 75-71 margin.
Butler’s first big splash of the season came at the Maui Invitational, when the Bulldogs faced off with Junior Cadougan and Marquette.
Behind 21 points from Vander Blue, the Golden Eagles had Butler on the ropes, down two with under eight seconds left and the length of the court to go.
The Bulldogs’ answer, unsurprisingly, was Rotnei Clarke, who had little choice but to duck and weave down the floor with two defenders glued to him.
Even so, Clarke made it to the three-point arc, where he hoisted a trey over the double-team and showed Marquette why he’s the best pure shooter in college hoops.
Iona and Marist had already given fans more than their money’s worth in an action-packed overtime game. With 2.6 seconds remaining in the extra session, though, the Red Foxes upped the ante.
Marist had no choice but to go for the desperation three-pointer with Iona up 94-91.
Sophomore Chavaughn Lewis didn’t even need to make it to the half-court line to send the game to a second OT, where his Red Foxes would ultimately claim a 105-104 victory.
Facing preseason No. 1 Indiana on a pseudo-neutral court in Indianapolis, perpetual underdog Butler would have earned plenty of respect just for taking the mighty Hoosiers to overtime.
In the final seconds of the extra period, though, the game swung even farther to the storybook end of the spectrum.
Deadlocked at 86 with nine seconds to play, then-unranked Butler put the ball in the hands of sophomore guard Alex Barlow.
The 5’11” former walk-on spun past IU senior Jordan Hulls to rattle home the game-winner and hand the Hoosiers their first loss of the season.
Most last-second shots are impressive precisely because they’re so difficult to execute. Tyler Griffey found a way to make the play of the year for Illinois on a shot that belonged in a pregame layup line.
An acrobatic rejection by Victor Oladipo looked certain to send Illinois’ home meeting with top-ranked Indiana into OT, as the Illini had less than a second to score in a tie game.
However, when the Hoosier defense lost track of Griffey on a switch, the senior forward slipped to the rim for an uncontested layup and the biggest upset of Illinois’ rollercoaster season.
The extraordinary thing about Roosevelt Jones’ game-winning bucket was that he had no business even getting a chance to try it.
Gonzaga had then-No. 13 Butler down by a point at Hinkle Fieldhouse, and if the Zags hit their free throws, Butler would be forced to try a desperation three-pointer.
Jones, however, took the free throws out of the equation when he took the inbounds pass meant for Gonzaga’s Kelly Olynyk.
As the Zags’ defense scrambled to get in position, Jones slashed into the paint to loft a runner over the 7’0” Olynyk and earn yet another highlight-reel win for the Bulldogs.
BYU was unbeaten in WCC action when St. Mary’s came to town on January 16, and it very nearly stayed that way. Tyler Haws’ runner with 2.5 seconds to play had the Gaels down two with the length of the court to go.
It wasn’t far enough.
St. Mary’s star Matthew Dellavedova took the inbounds pass, dribbled once, leaned around BYU’s Anson Winder and swished a 40-footer to win the game for the visitors.
The three-point gunners of the Michigan Wolverines have spent most of 2012-13 living by the sword, so it was only fitting for them to die by the sword at least once.
When Tim Hardaway Jr.’s trey put Michigan up three with under three seconds to play in Madison, Wisconsin gave Hardaway’s squad a taste of its own medicine.
A pinpoint inbounds pass from Mike Bruesewitz found Ben Brust just shy of half court, and Brust needed just one dribble to dodge Caris LeVert and drain a game-saving three-ball of his own.
In the ensuing overtime session, it would again be Brust who hit the crucial trey to give Wisconsin the upset victory by a 65-62 final.