NCAA

March Madness 2019: Best NCAA Tournament buzzer-beaters of the past decade

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USA Today

March Madness 2019: Best NCAA Tournament buzzer-beaters of the past decade

March Madness is full of thrills, the most exhilarating of which is a buzzer-beater that puts your team through to the next round.

It is a moment of pure elation for anyone associated with the winning team -- the players, coaches, students, alumni, and fans -- and among the most deflating feelings in sports if you find yourself on the wrong end. For the fans with no allegiance, the more buzzer-beaters the better and there have been plenty of them over the last decade.

These ten NCAA Tournament buzzer-beaters from the past decade are the ones that stick out the most. 

10) Jordan Poole, #3 Michigan vs. #6 Houston (2018 Second Round) 

The Wolverines and Cougars traded blows all game. It was a tightly contested matchup in which neither team led by more than six at any point. Houston's Devin Davis was at the free throw line for two shots with four seconds remaining.

He made 68 percent of his free throws on the season, but he missed both of these to give Michigan a chance, though a bleak one at that. After a timeout, the Wolverines needed to go the length of the court with 3.6 seconds remaining. ESPN's win probability model was at 92.8 percent in favor of a Houston victory.

Jordan Poole had other ideas:

9) Korie Lucious, #5 Michigan State vs. #4 Maryland (2010 Second Round) 

Michigan State-Maryland is a matchup we have seen on an annual basis ever since the Terps migrated to the Big Ten, but it was a rare treat back in 2010 and this game lived up to the hype. Greivis Vasquez scored 26 points for Maryland, but it was all for naught. Draymond Green found Lucious in transition with the clock ticking down, and he buried a triple.

The ball nearly did not find its way to Lucious. Watch the video closely -- Green almost decapitated a teammate with the pass that found Lucious.

8) R.J. Hunter, #14 Georgia State vs. #3 Baylor (2015 First Round)

Over the last few years, upsets by teams seeded 14th and 15th have become more commonplace and this one was the most exciting of the bunch. A missed free throw by Baylor kept their lead at just two points. With the announcers calling for Georgia State to go for a quick two, Hunter pulled up from well beyond the arc and splashed the game-winner.

The best part of this occurs at the top of the screen.

Keep an eye on his father, head coach Ron Hunter.

7) Aaron Harrison, #8 Kentucky vs. #2 Michigan (2014 Elite Eight)

A year after missing the NCAA Tournament for just the second time since 1991, Kentucky found itself in a familiar position just one game away from the Final Four. The teams were tied at 37 at halftime and again at 72 with under 10 seconds remaining.

Aaron Harrison finished the game with 12 points on four made three-pointers, the last of which sent the Wildcats to Houston (where they eventually lost to UCONN in the championship game).

6) Donte Ingram, #11 Loyola Chicago vs. #6 Miami (2018 First Round)

Sister Jean and the Loyola Chicago Ramblers won over the hearts of the nation a year ago with their Cinderella run to the Final Four (just the fifth double-digit seed to accomplish that feat). That run nearly never got started.

After a missed free throw by Miami with the Hurricanes up 62-61, Donte Ingram pulled up from the logo and the rest is history.

5) Bronson Koenig, #7 Wisconsin vs. #2 Xavier (2016 Second Round)

This buzzer beater seems to have gone by the wayside over the last couple of years since Wisconsin failed to advance any further and a higher profile buzzer beater has hogged all of the attention, but this shot from Koenig was a thing of beauty. Game tied at 63, 2.0 seconds remaining, fading away into his own bench...onions.

4) Chris Chiozza, #4 Florida vs. #8 Wisconsin (2017 Sweet 16)

The buzzer-beater gods giveth, and the buzzer-beater gods taketh away. Just 369 days after Koenig lifted the Badgers past Xavier, Chiozza broke the hearts of Badger fans everywhere.

Wisconsin hit a three at the end of regulation to send the game to overtime, and they held an 83-81 lead with 4.0 seconds remaining. The Gators got the ball into Chiozza who jumped from beyond the three-point line, hung in the air for what seemed an eternity, and nailed a floater from the free-throw line to lift the Gators to the 84-83 victory.

 

3) Paul Jesperson, #11 Northern Iowa vs. #6 Texas (2016 First Round)

Of all the games on this list, this might have been the most irrelevant. It was that first-round matchup that you really didn't have any interest in, but you would flip to it from a higher profile game if it was close in the last minute because it's March and crazy things happen.

Well, something crazy happened.

Texas drained a mid-range floater with 2.7 seconds remaining to knot things up at 72, then Paul Jesperson's prayer was answered from half court. It's rare that we get a buzzer-beater that's also a half-court shot. 

That's why this buzzer-beater is so high on our list. 

2) Luke Maye, #1 UNC vs. #2 Kentucky (2017 Elite Eight)

There is a lot to unpack regarding the last 40 seconds of this game. It was 71-67 Tar Heels before Malik Monk hit a three to cut the deficit to one. Justin Jackson made a quick layup the other way off a long ball on the inbound to get the lead back up to three.

Bam Adebayo lost the ball for the Wildcats underneath the basket which resulted in a pileup and a jump ball with the possession arrow in UNC's favor. They failed to make anything of the possession and Monk splashed another three to tie. The Tar Heels went quickly the other way, and Luke Maye was money on a mid-range jumper to give the Tar Heels the win after the crazy sequence.

They would ultimately go on to win the National Championship.

1) Kris Jenkins, #2 Villanova vs. #1 UNC (2016 Championship)

There are no words to do this one justice. Greatest NCAA Tournament buzzer-beater of the past decade, and the greatest NCAA Tournament buzzer-beater of all time. Just watch.

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Virginia Tech holds off upset-minded Chattanooga at home

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Virginia Tech holds off upset-minded Chattanooga at home

BLACKSBURG, Va. -- Nahiem Alleyne scored a career-high 22 points to lift Virginia Tech to a 63-58 victory over Chattanooga on Wednesday.

Alleyne hit 7 of 13 from the field, including three 3-pointers for the cold-shooting Hokies (7-3), who survived a scare and snapped a three-game losing streak. Landers Nolley II added 19 points for Virginia Tech.

Stefan Kenic led Chattanooga (6-5) with 16 points.

The Mocs led 51-47 after a 3-pointer by David Jean-Baptiste with 5:23 remaining, but the Hokies answered by scoring on six of their next seven possessions. Alleyne started a 14-2 run that enabled Virginia Tech to build a 61-53 lead and pull away on a night when it shot just 39% (23 of 59) from the field.

Chattanooga cut the deficit to 61-58 on a 3-pointer by Jonathan Scott with seven seconds left, but Alleyne answered two free throws to seal it.

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Watkins, Stevens lead Penn State over No. 4 Maryland

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Watkins, Stevens lead Penn State over No. 4 Maryland

STATE COLLEGE, Pa. (AP) -- Penn State became the fifth unranked team to beat a top-5 program in this upset-filled college basketball season, getting 15 points and 11 rebounds from Mike Watkins in a 76-69 win over No. 4 Maryland on Tuesday night.

Lamar Stevens added 15 points and 10 rebounds, Myreon Jones and Izaiah Brockington each scored 14 points, and Myles Dread had 12 points for the Nittany Lions (8-2, 1-1 Big Ten), who led for all but 1:54.

Jalen Smith had 12 points and 11 rebounds for the Terrapins (10-1, 1-1), who were trying for their first 11-0 start since 1996.

Eric Ayala scored 15, Anthony Cowan Jr. had 14, Aaron Wiggins had 13 and Serrel Smith added 12 for the Terps, who trailed 40-30 at halftime.

Penn State's win was followed minutes later by another unranked team knocking off an unbeaten opponent -- Texas Tech over No. 1 Louisville at Madison Square Garden.

The Nittany Lions led by as many as 10 with 15:19 to play, but the Terps used an 11-3 run capped by a 3-pointer from Cowan to cut the deficit to 52-50 with 10:57 left.

They wouldn't get any closer, and Penn State won its first game against a top-5 team since Feb. 17, 2016, when the Nittany Lions knocked off then-No. 4 Iowa.

Penn State leaned on its defense to build its first-half lead.

The Nittany Lions forced 12 turnovers in the first 10 minutes and used most of them to fuel an 18-5 run. Dread capped the sequence with a 3-pointer that made it 27-15.

Maryland slowed the pace with a pair of jumpers before Cowan hit a 3 that cut Penn State's lead to five. The Nittany Lions closed the half with a 13-8 run, capped by a buzzer-beating 3 from Jones.

THE TAKEAWAY

Maryland: The Terps fell behind early for a second straight game, but it didn't work out as well against a bigger, more skilled opponent. Maryland also spotted Illinois a big lead on Saturday before rallying.

Penn State: The Nittany Lions have beaten top teams at home in the Patrick Chambers era, but those wins have usually come late in the season.

UP NEXT

Maryland visits No. 22 Seton Hall on Dec. 19

Penn State hosts Alabama on Saturday.

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