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The Ten Greatest Games in March Madness History

By Matt Czeitner

10. Kansas vs Memphis 2008 National Championship

I remember watching this game live. I was only a 12-year-old boy who just was really starting to get into basketball. Memphis was up nine with only two minutes remaining on the clock. Memphis had at the time future Hall of Fame coach John Calipari and future MVP Derrick Rose. Memphis choked within those two minutes by missing four of five free throws down the stretch allowing Kansas to slowly climb back. It was then Mario Chalmers who hit a game-tying rainbow 3-pointer at the top of the key with 2.1 seconds remaining to force overtime. This is one of those shots that will be remembered for years.  Kansas then took off in overtime, winning the National Championship 75-68.

Mario Chalmers game-tying jumper in the 2008 National Championship

9. Indiana vs Syracuse 1987 National Championship

I wasn’t alive for this game, but I know the story of it because of my dad (a huge Syracuse fan). Every time he tells me the story, he yells one voice quite often. “DERRICK COLEMAN, DERRICK COLEMAN!” Boy does it upset him. To sum it up, Derrick Coleman missed the front end of a one and one with 28 seconds remaining and the Orangemen leading by one. Shortly after, Keith Smart made a jumper from the corner with two seconds remaining to give Indiana and Bobby Knight the win and a National Championship with a 74-73 win.

Ending to the 1987 National Championship

8. Texas Western vs Kentucky 1966 National Championship

There is a lot of significance behind this game, and even this season for Texas Western. The game is most remembered because of the all-black lineup for Texas Western vs. the all-white lineup of Kentucky. During the 60s this wasn’t something you saw. This was actually the first instance an all-black starting five was seen in a game like this. This game was one of the most important games in American history. It also was a great game. Texas Western won the game 72-65. The film “Glory Road” is a great representation of how the season, and this game went for Texas Western. Recommend watching it!

Glory Road representation of National Championship ending

7. Indiana State vs Michigan State 1979 National Championship

Magic Johnson vs. Larry Bird. Need I say more? This was one of the most anticipated, and watched games in college basketball history. This game took college basketball to the next level. Johnson and Bird were already superstars, and people knew they would be at the next level. What this game meant to the game of basketball is what makes it so great. Magic and the Spartans went on to win the game 75-64 and we would see many more Larry vs Magic matchups for years to come in the NBA.

Ending to the 1979 National Championship

6. North Carolina vs Georgetown 1982 National Championship

There were several future NBA stars in this game. Patrick Ewing, Sleepy Floyd, James Worthy, Sam Perkins, and one man by the name of Michael Jordan. Though Worthy led the Tar Heels with 28 points, Jordan turned out to be the hero in this game, as a freshman. He hit a jump-shot with 17 seconds remaining to give the Tar Heels a 62-61 lead. Georgetown had the ball in the last seconds but could not find the net. This gave North Carolina the championship and coaching legend Dean Smith his first title as a coach. Oh, and that Jordan guy turned out to be pretty clutch as he was in this game for years to come.

Ending to the 1982 National Championship (Jordan Shot)

5. Georgetown vs. Villanova 1985 National Championship

Coming into this game, Georgetown was a one-seed and led by Patrick Ewing. They were also heavy favorites to win this game. The Villanova Wildcats, however, had other ideas. The Wildcats ended up shooting an insane 78 percent from the field on their way to their first National Championship in school history. This game didn’t only shock Georgetown, but it shocked the entire world.

Ending to 1985 National Championship

4. NC State vs Houston 1983 National Championship

If you’ve seen the Jimmy V (Valvano) 30-for-30, you know this game. The scene of Valvano running around the court after claiming victory at the buzzer vs a Houston team which had Hakeem Olajuwon and Clyde Drexler is one you will always remember even if you weren’t there. Houston was on a 26-game win streak at the time, and NC State had to win the ACC Tournament to even qualify for the National Tournament. This game was not supposed to be won by the Wolfpack. But that tip-in by Lorenzo Charles at the buzzer shocked the world and it remains one of the most remarkable wins in NCAA history.

1983 National Championship

3. North Carolina vs Villanova 2016 National Championship

As a North Carolina fan, this game, that shot, that other shot, still haunt me. If I could never talk about it again, I would. However, this is one of the most remarkable games in NCAA history. Back and forth the Tar Heels and Wildcats went the entire game. Down to the wire, with 4.7 seconds left, North Carolina’s Marcus Paige hit an insane off-balance 3-pointer to tie the game. I remember seeing the clock and thinking “there’s too much time, there’s too much time,” and I was right. Villanova marched quickly up the court, a handoff to Kris Jenkins, a shot deep from the right wing, into the net it went, out the confetti came. It was Villanova winning the National Championship at the buzzer 77-74.

Final minutes of the 2016 National Championship

2. Duke vs. UNLV 1991 National Semifinals

This UNLV was arguably the most explosive offensive teams in college basketball history. They won on average by 27.5 points and eclipsed the 100-point mark 14 times throughout the season, they were the clear favorites of this game. Duke came prepared however. A huge 3-pointer by Bobby Hurley down the stretch and a couple clutch free throws from Christian Laettner sealed the deal and helped complete a huge upset from Duke with a 79-77 win. They also went onto win the National Championship which was Coach K’s first.

Duke upsets UNLV
  1. Duke vs Kentucky 1992 East Regional Final

I think everyone knows this game, and knows it would be first. “The Shot” from Christian Laettner as many know it. Many people argue this is the greatest game in college basketball history. Duke was looking to repeat, but they needed to get past Kentucky first. They found themselves down one after a beautiful hook-runner by Sean Woods. With 2.2 seconds remaining, Grant Hill launched the ball down the court which was caught by Christian Laettner with his back facing the basket. He took one dribble, faded away, and sunk the jump-shot from the foul line. Duke won the game 104-103 in overtime; the rest is history.

Christian Laettner Game Winner

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