NCAA Bracket 2012: The 15 Greatest Buzzer Beaters in March Madness History

Jesse Kramer@Jesse_KramerCorrespondent IMarch 11, 2012

NCAA Bracket 2012: The 15 Greatest Buzzer Beaters in March Madness History

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    Selection Sunday has finally arrived, college basketball fans! 

    The field of 68 teams has been announced, and then the true madness will begin a couple of days from now. The 2012 NCAA tournament is bound to bring plenty of excitement, and hopefully we will get to see some great finishes and possibly even a few buzzer beaters.

    In case you somehow were not already pumped for the next few weeks, here is a list of the best buzzer-beating and game-winning shots in NCAA tournament history. (Also, please note that in order for a buzzer beater to make the list, it had to be a game-winner.)

    You can view a printable bracket for the 2012 NCAA tournament by clicking here.

    Follow Jesse Kramer on Twitter @Jesse_Kramer for more college basketball news and information.

15. Ty Rogers and Western Kentucky Stun the Drake Bulldogs

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    Western Kentucky entered the 2008 NCAA tournament as a No. 12 seed, taking on fellow mid-major Drake, a No. 5 seed.

    The Hilltoppers made a pair of three-pointers in the final minute of the first half to take a nine-point halftime lead, and they would extend their lead to as many as 15 in the second half. But with under four minutes to play, Drake made its move. The Bulldogs produced a 15-6 spurt, culminating with a Jonathan Cox three-pointer, to send the game into overtime.

    In the extra period, Cox hit two free throws with 5.7 seconds to play, giving Drake a 99-98 lead, but there was still sufficient time for Western Kentucky to bring the ball up the floor and get a decent look for the win.

    Tyrone Brazelton sprinted up the floor and wish two seconds left he dumped the ball off to Ty Rogers, who squared up from way downtown and drilled in a game-winning three-pointer as time expired. The Hilltoppers would go on to beat San Diego in the second round before falling in the Sweet 16 to UCLA.

    The nation will get the chance to see Western Kentucky try to perform some more magic in the 2012 NCAA tournament as the champions of the Sun Belt Conference.

    (By the way, it is worth it to note that Western Kentucky had two NBA players in this game: Jeremy Evans and Courtney Lee.)

14. Matt Howard Sparks Another Postseason Run for Butler

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    This shot makes the list not because it was particularly difficult and not because it created a huge upset—in fact, Butler was the favorite in this game. Instead, it makes the list because of its magnitude.

    The Butler Bulldogs were coming off a miraculous NCAA tournament run in the prior season and were the No. 8 seed in the 2011 NCAA tournament, paired up with No. 9 seed and fellow mid-major Old Dominion. 

    The Bulldogs and the Monarchs played neck-and-neck for 40 minutes, and Kent Bazemore's free throws knotted the score at 58. And with less than 35 seconds to play, Butler chose to opt for the last shot, making overtime the worst-case scenario.

    In the final seconds, Shawn Vanzant missed a layup, but Andrew Smith was able to bat the ball back in the air, keeping the play alive. The ball ended up in the hands of senior Matt Howard, who laid it up and in for a game-winning layup.

    Of course, this shot would spark Butler's run back to the NCAA tournament championship game, where the Bulldogs would ultimately fall to Connecticut.

13. James Forrest's Heave Sends Georgia Tech to the Sweet 16

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    In the second round of the 1992 NCAA tournament, and No. 2 seed USC was a heavy favorite over No. 7 seed Georgia Tech.

    The Yellow Jackets managed to stick right with the Trojans, but their upset bid was in jeopardy after Rodney Chatman's shot with 2.2 seconds left put USC up 78-76. After a pass was deflected out of bounds, Georgia Tech would inbound from half court with only 0.8 seconds to get off a shot.

    The pass came in to James Forrest, and Forrest immediately let a long three-pointer fly from the left wing. He had only attempted three three-pointers all season, and this one, which swished though the net, would be his only make.

    The Yellow Jackets' cinderella run would ultimately end with an 83-79 loss to Memphis a week later.

12. Jermaine Wallace and Northwestern State Send Iowa Home

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    It's not often that a No. 14 seed beats a No. 3 seed, so it becomes that much more special when it happens on a buzzer beater.

    Northwestern State battled back from an early, 12-point deficit to go into halftime trailing 28-24. In the second half, Iowa would push its lead to as many as 17 points with under nine minutes remaining, and hope appeared to be lost for the Demons.

    But then they chipped away at the Hawkeyes' lead and trimmed it down to 63-61 with time for one more possession.

    After a missed jumper by Kerwin Forges, senior Jermaine Wallace won a scramble for the offensive rebound and controlled the ball in the left corner. Wallace put up a step-back three-pointer over his defender, and it hit nothing but net with half a second to play.

    Iowa inbounded the ball past halfcourt to Adam Haluska, who got a relatively good look at a game-winning heave, but Haluska's shot rimmed out, and Northwestern State advanced to the second round of the NCAA tournament for the first time in school history.

11. Mike Miller's Heroics Help Florida Survive an Upset

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    This one comes from the days when Butler used to lose in the NCAA tournament. This was back in 2000, 10 years before the Bulldogs' magical run to the 2010 Final Four.

    No. 12 seed Butler was set to match No. 5 seed Florida, and the Bulldogs were looking for its first win in the Big Dance since 1962. And in the final minute, Barry Collier's club was in good shape, leading the Gators 68-67.

    With 8.1 seconds left in overtime and a one-point lead, LaVall Jordan, who was shooting 83.1 percent from the foul line during the 1999-00 season, went to the charity stripe for a pair of free throws. Astonishingly, Jordan missed both, leaving the window open for Florida.

    Future NBA player Mike Miller received the ball on the left wing with just a few seconds on the clock, and he drove the lane and knocked in a game-winning layup, releasing the ball just before the buzzer sounded. 

10. Danny Ainge Goes the Length of the Floor Against Notre Dame

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    No. 6 seed Brigham Young entered this Sweet 16 matchup against heavily-favored, No. 2 seed Notre Dame in the 1981 NCAA tournament.

    The Fighting Irish drained a bucket with just eight seconds on the clock to take a 50-49 lead over the Cougars. But then it was Danny Ainge's turn to do some magic.

    Brigham Young's inbounds pass came in to Ainge, and the Cougar guard went coast to coast against essentially nonexistent defense from Notre Dame, finishing off the drive with a game-winning layup.

    The Fighting Irish had one last chance for the win, but their last-second heave came up short, and Brigham Young advanced.

9. Scottie Reynolds Continues Pitt's Final Four Drought

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    Villanova had not been to the Final Four since its magical championship run in 1985. The Wildcats finally had a shot to return, but first they would have to take on No. 1 seed Pittsburgh, which was looking to go to the Final Four for the first time since 1941.

    Villanova led 18-8 early in the first half, but Pitt then crawled back to take a two-point halftime lead. In the second half, neither would lead by more than five.

    Then, the Wildcats and the Panthers went back and forth for the final three minutes. Villanova held a four-point lead with 20 seconds to play, but DeJuan Blair's layup was followed by a Villanova turnover and a pair of free throws from Levance Fields. Suddenly, the game was tied.

    But with 5.5 seconds to play, the Wildcats still had plenty of time to win in regulation.

    Reggie Redding, who had committed the turnover a few seconds before that allowed Pitt to tie the game, inbounded to Dante Cunningham, who dished to 'Nova star Scottie Reynolds around half court. Reynolds drove straight towards the basket and made a game-winning layup over Gilbert Brown with 0.5 seconds left.

8. Tyus Edney Goes the Length of the Floor Against Mizzou

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    The pressure was on UCLA in 1995 as the No. 1 seed in the West Region. In the second round, the Bruins had their first postseason test, taking on the No. 8 seed Missouri Tigers. The Tigers took a one-point lead with 4.8 seconds left, but there was still ample time for the Bruins to go the length of the floor and win the ball game.

    Out of a timeout, Coach Jim Harrick put the ball in the hands of Tyus Edney, who had been averaging 14.3 points per game that season. The 5'10" Edney got the inbounds pass in the back court, and with a defender riding his back, he took the ball all the way down the floor.

    Just before the buzzer sounded, Edney released a layup that would fall through the hoop.

    Missouri fans thought the shot had come after the buzzer sounded, but all Edney had to say was, "The buzzer, I heard it after the shot. Sweet sound."

7. Richard Hamilton

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    Connecticut and Washington faced off in the 1998 Sweet 16, and their match quickly became an all-time classic.

    Trailing 73-71, Washington's Donald Watts stepped up and drilled in a three-pointer to put the west coast Huskies on top. But with 33.2 seconds left Connecticut would get one last shot for the win—well, actually three last shots.

    Freshman Khalid El-Amin drove towards the hoop and dished off to Jake Voshkul, who couldn't connected on a jumper in the lane. The offensive rebound came to Richard Hamilton, but he also missed a short-range jumper.

    After the ball got tipped back in the air, it once again came to Hamilton. This time, Hamilton let a jumper fly and it connected as the buzzer sounded.

    The Huskies of Connecticut got to rush the floor, but the Huskies of Washington had to walk off in defeat.

6. The Coach's Son

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    No. 13 seed Valparaiso was the heavy underdog against No. 4 seed Mississippi, but the Crusaders managed to stick with the Rebels for the first 39 minutes, but in the final 2.5 seconds they needed a miracle.

    The Crusaders needed to send the ball the length of the court, trailing 69-67. Coach Homer Drew had the option to go a two-pointer to tie the game and force overtime or a three-pointer to win, and he chose to go for the win in regulation.

    Jaime Sykes inbounded the ball to just beyond the midcourt stripe, and Bill Jenkins sprung into the air. Jenkins caught the pass and in one motion passed to a streaking Bryce Drew, the son of Homer. Drew released a 23-foot three-pointer, and the ball went in just as the buzzer sounded, giving Valparaiso a 70-69 win.

5. U.S. Reed of Arkansas Drains a Half-Court Shot to Beat Louisville

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    Arkansas entered its second round game of the 1981 NCAA tournament as the heavy underdog. The Razorbacks were going up against Louisville, which had just won a national championship the year before.

    The Razorbacks' upset sit bid appeared to be foiled as the Cardinals took a 73-71 with just five seconds remaining in the second half.

    Arkansas inbounded to U.S. Reed who heaved one up from 49-feet with two defenders around him. Against all odds, Reed's shot fell through, and the Razorbacks upset Louisville.

4. Tate George Makes the Game-Winner...But Did He Get It off in Time?

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    Connecticut led Clemson by 19 points earlier in the game, but with one second remaining, the Huskies' large lead had turned into a one-point deficit. Luckily, they would have one more chance to win the game, but they would need to do it in miraculous style.

    Inbounding from under their own basket, the Huskies threw a pass the length of the floor to senior Tate George on the right wing. George made the catch, turned and shot, and he drained it from about 16 feet.

    If you look closely at the replay, you can see that the ball might have left his hand 0.1 or 0.2 seconds after the buzzer sounded, but back in 1990 the officials did not review last-second shots, so the call on the floor stood.

3. Keith Smart Leads Indiana to a National Title

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    In the 1987 NCAA Championship game, Syracuse built up an eight-point lead over Indiana in the second half. The Orange's lead was eventually cut down the 73-72, and after a missed free throw by Syracuse, the Hoosiers had 27 seconds to hit a game-winning shot.

    The Hoosiers ran the clock down 10 seconds, and then Keith Smart made his move from the left wing towards the basket. After dishing off to a teammate, Smart worked his way to the left corner, where he got the ball back.

    With four seconds left, he let a jumper fly from the left wing, and his shot hit nothing but net.

    The Hoosiers intercepted the ensuing inbound pass and took home their fifth national title.

2. Christian Laettner and Duke Go to Their 5th Straight Final Four

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    In the 1992 Elite Eight, two storied programs, Duke and Kentucky, went head-to-head. The Blue Devils seemed to have the game in hand, leading by 12 in the second half. But Kentucky rallied and managed to tie the game in the final minute and force overtime. 

    With 2.1 seconds remaining in overtime, Duke trailed, 103-102, and desperately needed some heroics.

    Grant Hill inbounded the long pass to Christian Laettner, who was standing down at the foul line. With 2.1 seconds, Laettner had time to dribble once, turnaround and shoot a fadeaway jumper.

    His shot swished in as the buzzer sounded, and Duke returned to the Final Four for the fifth straight season.

1. Lorenzo Charles' Championship-Winning Slam

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    And finally, here is one of the most iconic plays in college basketball history.

    NC State trailed almost the entire game, but the Wolf Pack stormed back to tie the score at 54 in the final minutes. Alvin Franklin went to the foul line for Houston with 1:05 to play, but his free throw rimmed out and NC State controlled the ball with a chance for the final shot.

    Derek Whittenburg controlled the ball near half court with five seconds to play. Whittenburg heaved a 35-footer towards the basket, but it missed terribly. Luckily, Lorenzo Charles was right next to the basket to turn the missed jumper into an alley-oop.

    Charles' dunk gave NC State the 1983 NCAA tournament championship, the second in its history.

    And of course, Jim Valvano then sprinted around the court, looking for someone to hug after the biggest victory in his coaching career. 

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