The Best Moments of the 2014 NCAA Tournament

Thad NovakCorrespondent IMarch 19, 2014

The Best Moments of the 2014 NCAA Tournament

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    David J. Phillip

    The history of March Madness is told in highlight reels, from grainy shots of Bird and Magic all the way up to a high-definition Russ Smith layup from the 2013 title game. Now a new cast of athletes has added its best moves to the treasure trove with the conclusion of the 2014 NCAA tournament.

    From the opening games in Dayton to the championship in Arlington, we provided an ongoing look at the eye-catching images of this year’s Big Dance. Stick around to see which stars flew highest and which underdogs barked loudest at venues from Spokane to Orlando.

    Read on for all the games, teams and moments that will live on from the 76th edition of the NCAA tournament.

All Dogs Go to Heaven

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    Charlie Neibergall

    Thanks to another peerless performance from MOP Shabazz Napier—22 points, six rebounds, three assists, three steals—UConn never trailed Kentucky in the national championship game. The Huskies became the first-ever No. 7 seed to win it all, capturing their fourth title since 1999 and first under head coach Kevin Ollie.

Thank You, Sir, May I Have Another?

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    Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

    Unwilling to settle for one game-winning three-pointer in the NCAA tournament, Aaron Harrison fired from even farther beyond the arc to bury Wisconsin with seven seconds left. Harrison's defense on Traevon Jackson helped prevent a miracle finish for the Badgers as eighth-seeded Kentucky secured a 74-73 win and a spot in the title game.

Springboard to Success

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    Tony Gutierrez

    DeAndre Daniels wasn't actually alone on the court in UConn's Final Four showdown with Florida, but the high-jumping forward frequently made it look that way. Daniels' 20 points and 10 rebounds led the seventh-seeded Huskies to a surprisingly easy 63-53 win that also saw the backcourt of Shabazz Napier and Ryan Boatright outscore Scottie Wilbekin and Michael Frazier II by an amazing 25-7 margin.

Timing Is Everything

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    Andy Lyons/Getty Images

    It took Aaron Harrison nearly 32 minutes before he hit his first field goal against Michigan, but the Kentucky shooting guard had the last laugh. With 2.7 seconds to play, he beat Caris LeVert's valiant defensive effort to sink the game-winning three-pointer and make the eighth-seeded Wildcats the last team in the 2014 Final Four.

Garden Party

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    Seth Wenig

    Shabazz Napier continued to do his best Kemba Walker impression, nailing clutch shot after clutch shot i UConn's 60-54 upset of Michigan State. Napier's 25 points, plus 16 turnovers by the Spartans, carried the seventh-seeded Huskies to the Final Four for the first time since Walker led the 2010-11 squad to the national title.

Oh So Close

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    Jeff Gross/Getty Images

    Nick Johnson's would-be buzzer-beater came after the clock reached zero, and Wisconsin escaped with a 64-63 win in overtime. The second-seeded Badgers—who benefited from another world-beating offensive effort from Frank Kaminsky—got some help from a controversial offensive foul called on Johnson on Arizona's previous possession.

    With the win, Bo Ryan earned his first career berth in the Final Four.

Coronation

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    Nelson Chenault-USA TODAY Sports

    Florida did what No. 1 overall seeds are supposed to do, shutting down underdog Dayton for a 62-52 win and a trip to the Final Four. Scottie Wilbekin paced the Gators again, slicing up the Flyers defense for 23 points to go with three assists and three steals.

Spartans Will

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    Seth Wenig

    Faced with an immovable Virginia defense, Branden Dawson went through it, powering to the rim for most of his game-high 24 points. The Spartans' own D turned in an impressive performance, holding the Cavaliers to 35.1 percent shooting as fourth-seeded Michigan State eked out a 61-59 win.

In the Catbird Seat

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    Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

    Defending champion Louisville made Aaron Harrison work for his points, but he finished with 15 of them, including the go-ahead three-pointer in the final minute of a 74-69 thriller. Russ Smith, in his final college game, scored 23 in the losing cause, but No. 8 seed Kentucky got 14 points or more from four different starters.

Familiar Ground

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    Adam Hunger-USA TODAY Sports

    Playing in front of a partisan Madison Square Garden crowd, seventh-seeded UConn (which had enjoyed so much success on that floor in the Big East Tournament before moving to the AAC) put on an offensive show against Iowa State. DeAndre Daniels' monster night (27 points and 10 rebounds) helped waste a career game from the Cyclones' Dustin Hogue (34 points on 15-of-19 shooting) in an 81-76 Huskies win.

Bombs Away

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    Michael Conroy

    Hitting 11 three-pointers on 20 attempts, second-seeded Michigan built a double-digit lead over Tennessee by halftime. A second-half collapse nearly handed the game back to the Vols, but Zak Irvin and his mates escaped with a 73-71 victory.

Comeback Cats

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    Jae C. Hong/Associated Press

    Led by high-flying Aaron Gordon, top-seeded Arizona clawed back from a second-half deficit against San Diego State to retake the lead with just six minutes to play. Nick Johnson scored all 15 of his points in the final four minutes to secure the 70-64 win for the Wildcats.

Finding the Range

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    Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

    Michael Frazier II made up for a pair of subpar games by leading Florida's offense with 19 points (including five three-pointers) against UCLA. The No. 1 overall seeds earned a 79-68 win thanks to outstanding ball movement (22 assists on 29 field goals).

180-Degree Turnaround

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    Mark J. Terrill/Associated Press

    Everything that went right for Baylor in its rout of Creighton on Saturday went wrong against second-seeded Wisconsin on Thursday. The Badgers tore apart a porous-looking Bears zone, and Frank Kaminsky added six blocked shots to his 19 points in a 69-52 romp.

Underdog-Eat-Dog

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    Nelson Chenault-USA TODAY Sports

    In the lowest-seeded battle in the Sweet 16, 11th-seeded Dayton's quickness won out over No. 10 Stanford's size. Jordan Sibert had 18 points to lead an 82-72 win for the Flyers, who earned their first Elite Eight trip since 1984.

Meet Me at the Rim

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    Denis Poroy/Associated Press

    With Gonzaga's Kevin Pangos hobbled by a sore ankle, No. 1 seed Arizona quickly turned the game into a track meet. Aaron Gordon handled the high-jump portion, throwing down an assortment of dunks on his way to 18 points (tied for the game high) in an 84-61 romp.

Cruise Control

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    Rob Kinnan-USA TODAY Sports

    With Joe Harris leading an uncharacteristic offensive outburst, Virginia jumped out to a 15-point halftime lead on Memphis. The Tigers put up a fight in the second half, but the top-seeded Cavaliers (with five double-figure scorers) held on with ease, 78-60.

Father and Son

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    Tom Pennington/Getty Images

    Creighton coach Greg McDermott consoled superstar senior (and son) Doug after a horrific finale to his brilliant career. The younger McDermott finished as the fifth-leading scorer in Division I history, but he had just 15 points in a wretched performance against Baylor's aggressive zone defense.

    All five starters scored in double figures for the sixth-seeded Bears, who headed to their third Sweet 16 since 2010.

     

     

Helping Hands

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    Jeff Gross/Getty Images

    Led as usual by Kyle Anderson, UCLA's offense recorded 22 assists on 29 field goals in picking apart underdog Stephen F. Austin. The fourth-seeded Bruins also held the Lumberjacks to 35.7 percent shooting from the field in a 77-60 win.

Man Among Boys

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    Chuck Burton/Associated Press

    Tennessee's 6'8", 260-pound Jarnell Stokes continued his rampage through the postseason, overpowering Mercer for 17 points, 18 rebounds and five assists. Keyed by his efforts, the 11th-seeded Vols won the rebounding battle by a 41-19 margin and cruised to an 83-63 victory.

    Tennessee becomes the third team in four seasons to go from the First Four to the Sweet 16.

Photo Finish

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    Soobum Im-USA TODAY Sports

    After sweating out an extended post-buzzer review occasioned by some clock malfunctions, Iowa State's DeAndre Kane learned that his game-winning drive was going to stand up after all. North Carolina didn't call the timeout Roy Williams wanted to set up a final play, allowing the third-seeded Cyclones to hold on in an 85-83 thriller.

    Kane had 24 points and 10 rebounds, a major factor in offsetting the absence of Georges Niang (out with a broken foot).

Twin Terrors

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    Andy Lyons/Getty Images

    Aaron Harrison found enough room to score 19 points while twin brother Andrew added 20 for eighth-seeded Kentucky. The Wildcats would need every bit of it to stop Wichita State, which got 31 from Cleanthony Early in one of the hardest-fought games of the tournament.

    Fred VanVleet had a chance to win it at the buzzer for WSU, but his three-pointer over the long arm of Willie Cauley-Stein found only rim, and the Shockers' undefeated run ended at 35 games.

Shut Down

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    Jeff Roberson/Associated Press

    Kansas scoring leader Andrew Wiggins disappeared against Stanford, held to just four points on 1-of-6 shooting by a focused Cardinal D. Chasson Randle added six steals to the defensive showcase as Stanford (with four double-digit scorers) gutted out a 60-57 win.

Down but Not Out

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    Elsa/Getty Images

    Temporarily laid low by a bruised shin, Shabazz Napier returned to spearhead an upset win for No. 7 seed UConn. Despite an 18-point, six-assist night for Villanova's Ryan Arcidiacono, it was his opposite number who took center stage with a sensational 9-of-13 shooting effort and a game-high 25 points in the Huskies' 77-65 victory.

Shell-Shocked

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    Steve Dykes/Getty Images

    An absurdly fast start helped Branden Dawson shred Harvard for a career-best 26 points on 12-of-15 (!) shooting. The Crimson battled all the way back after trailing by a dozen at halftime, but even 22 points from Wesley Saunders weren't quite enough to stave off the 80-73 win for fourth-seeded Michigan State.

(Insufficiently) Mighty Joe Young

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    Jeffrey Phelps/Associated Press

    Oregon guard Joseph Young wreaked almost as much distraction as his simian cinematic namesake, but even 29 points on 10-of-19 shooting weren't enough against Wisconsin. Playing in front of a partisan Milwaukee crowd, the second-seeded Badgers erased a 12-point halftime deficit with a team effort: all five starters had at least a dozen points in the 85-77 win.

Out of Miracles

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    Frank Franklin II/Associated Press

    Tyler Ennis saved Syracuse from certain defeat more than once in 2013-14, but he couldn't quite pull off another rescue against Dayton. Two missed jumpers from Ennis in the closing seconds helped the 11th-seeded Flyers—led by seven points and 10 boards from Devin Oliver—hold off the Orange to become the first double-digit seed in this year's Sweet 16.

One-Man Gang

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    Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

    Xavier Thames made a legitimate push at outscoring underdog North Dakota State by himself. The senior point guard poured in 30 points (while still handing out five assists) in a 63-44 blowout for fourth-seeded San Diego State.

Heavy Artillery

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    Morry Gash/Associated Press

    The Texas Longhorns had no defense for No. 2 seed Michigan's long-range attack on Saturday. Led by 17 points from Nik Stauskas, the Wolverines nailed 14 of their 28 three-point tries in a 79-65 victory.

Familiar Face

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    Phelan M. Ebenhack/Associated Press

    Not quite a year after his shooting exhibition helped seal a national title for Louisville, Luke Hancock was back in top form against Saint Louis. Now a senior, he poured in a game-high 21 points, along with three assists and three steals as the fourth-seeded Cardinals rocked SLU, 66-51.

Have We Tried a Quadruple-Team?

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    David Manning-USA TODAY Sports

    It didn't matter how many defenders Pitt sent at Florida point guard Scottie Wilbekin, because he was going to score anyway. Wilbekin's 21 points were more than twice what any other player produced in the top-seeded Gators' 61-45 rout of the Panthers.

Program Stature Depicted to Scale (Almost)

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