The 10 Wildest Buzzer-Beaters in NCAA Men's Tournament History

Joe Tansey@JTansey90Featured ColumnistMarch 20, 2019

The 10 Wildest Buzzer-Beaters in NCAA Men's Tournament History

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    David J. Phillip/Associated Press

    One of the first things we think about when the NCAA men's basketball tournament comes up is the wild buzzer-beaters that have gone down in tournament lore.

    The best buzzer-beaters in the competition's history occurred in a variety of ways, as half-court shots, clutch three-pointers and end-to-end sprints have benefited some of the nation's top programs.

    The players who made the iconic shots also etched themselves spots in tournament history, including Christian Laettner, Bryce Drew and Kris Jenkins.

    Continue reading for a trip down memory lane with the best buzzer-beaters in NCAA tournament history.

U.S. Reed vs. Louisville, 1981

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    The 1981 NCAA tournament produced its share of memorable moments, and on one day, three major upsets occurred in the second round.

    One of those upsets was produced by Arkansas, who defeated Louisville on a half-court buzzer-beater from U.S. Reed.

    As time ticked down on the clock, Reed created some space on the right side of the court with two defenders around him and hit the game-winning shot.

Lorenzo Charles vs. Houston, 1983

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    One of the few buzzer-beaters to win the national championship came in 1983.

    NC State's Lorenzo Charles was in the right spot at the right time underneath the basket, as he grabbed a Dereck Whittenburg miss and deposited it for two points to defeat Houston. 

    Charles' buzzer-beating dunk finished off one of the most memorable upsets in NCAA tournament history. The Wolfpack were facing a Cougars team led by future NBA stars Hakeem Olajuwon and Clyde Drexler. 

Tate George vs. Clemson, 1990

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    UConn has become synonymous with March magic over the last few decades.

    The first moment of March magic for the Huskies came in 1990, when Tate George pulled down a long pass and put up a shot all within a second to beat Clemson in the Sweet 16.

    However, the postseason luck ran out for the Huskies in the next round, as they fell by a point to eventual runner-up Duke.

Christian Laettner vs. Kentucky, 1992

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    The most memorable buzzer-beater in NCAA tournament history came from Duke's Christian Laettner in the Elite Eight in 1992.

    In 2.1 seconds, Laettner hauled in an inbounds heave, dribbled and spun before sinking one of the most iconic shots in college basketball history.

    Laettner's game-winning shot against Kentucky kept Duke alive in its quest for a second straight national title, which it won nine days later over Michigan in Minneapolis.

Tyus Edney vs. Missouri, 1995

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    Few buzzer-beaters end up saving a run to the national championship, but that's exactly what Tyus Edney did in 1995.

    The UCLA guard traveled the length of the court to beat Missouri with a layup all in the span of 4.8 seconds.

    After surviving a scare from Missouri in the second round, the top-seeded Bruins won their next game over Mississippi State by 19 points and went on to win the national championship.

Bryce Drew vs. Ole Miss, 1998

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    The first thing that comes to mind when talking about Valparaiso basketball is Bryce Drew's first-round buzzer-beater against Ole Miss in 1998.

    Drew's buzzer-beater, and the celebration on the floor that followed, created one of the best first-round moments in the competition's history.

    When his playing career was over, Drew returned to Valpo to coach the Crusaders, and he earned two NCAA tournament berths out of the Horizon League, where he won four regular-season titles before moving on to Vanderbilt.

Richard Hamilton vs. Washington, 1998

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    Eight years after George's game-winning shot for UConn, Richard Hamilton used a tremendous individual effort to down Washington at the buzzer.

    Hamilton's fadeaway jumper came on the third shot of the final possession, as Jake Voskuhl and Hamilton both had attempts bounce off the rim.

    Hamilton's heroics at the Greensboro Coliseum allowed the Huskies to move on to the Elite Eight, but just like the 1990 group, they fell one step short of the Final Four at the hands of North Carolina.

Scottie Reynolds vs. Pittsburgh, 2009

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    Villanova's last Final Four appearance before it won the 2016 title was made possible by Scottie Reynolds.

    In the Elite Eight matchup with Big East rival Pittsburgh, Reynolds drove the length of the court to send the Wildcats to Detroit for the Final Four.

    Reynolds was initially defended by two players on the inbounds pass, but he broke free and scored over a defender in the paint to hand Villanova a 78-76 victory.

Paul Jesperson vs. Texas, 2016

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    Northern Iowa has had its share of wild tournament moments in the last decade, but the one that stands out the most is Paul Jesperson's game-winner against Texas in the 2016 first round.

    Jesperson's half-court heave ended a sequence in which the Longhorns leveled the game at 72 points with 2.7 seconds left.

    One round later, the Panthers suffered one of the worst defeats in NCAA tournament history, as Texas A&M came back from a 12-point deficit in the final 44 seconds of regulation to force overtime.

Kris Jenkins vs. North Carolina, 2016

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    No one will ever forget how Villanova won the national championship in 2016.

    Kris Jenkins handed the Wildcats their first title sine 1985 with a deep three-pointer that beat the buzzer and stunned North Carolina, who had just tied the game.

    Jenkins' game-winning shot was made possible by Ryan Arcidiacono, who drove down the left side of the court and fed Jenkins with an assist.