Video: Top 10 Victory Celebrations in NCAA Tournament History
10. Ripping Washington's Heart Out (1998)
Often times, fans remember the celebrations of players and teams just as much (if not more so) than the NCAA tournament games that necessitated said celebrations. We rank the Top 10 Victory Celebrations in March Madness history [Editor’s Note: Entries limited to on-court celebrations].
UConn’s Richard “Rip” Hamilton fell to the Greensboro Coliseum court after letting his shot go in the final seconds of the 1998 Sweet Sixteen against Washington. And he stayed down there after his game-winner went in, with the entirety of the Huskies bench piling on top of him to celebrate.
Heck, even normally dour head coach Jim Calhoun was jumping for joy.
9. Georgia Tech Twinkle Toes (1992)
At 6-foot-8 and 240 pounds, Georgia Tech’s James Forrest was hulking enough where leaping celebrations weren’t his forte. When his miracle 3-pointer with 0.8 seconds remaining sent the seventh-seeded Yellow Jackets to a 79-78 upset of second-seeded USC, Forrest was satisfied with simply hopping down the court in celebration.
Then again, considering how many of Forrest’s Georgia Tech teammates piled onto him after the shot went through, it was no small miracle that he could leap as high as he did.
8. #NaeNae Time (2014)
If you didn’t know what the #NaeNae dance was before this year’s NCAA tournament, you definitely found out last Friday when Mercer guard Kevin Canevari popped it and locked it after defeating No. 3 seed Duke.
There’s just so much swag in this dance between the spin move, footwork and stare into the upper deck at the end. If basketball doesn’t work out for Canevari, he’s got a future in break dancing.
7. Gonzaga Bulldog Pile (1999)
10th-ranked Gonzaga was understandably overjoyed that its Cinderella run in 1999 could continue following a heart-stopping, 73-72 victory over Florida in the Sweet Sixteen.
And the Bulldogs certainly celebrated like it, piling on top of Casey Calvary - who scored the winning points on a tip-in with 4.4 seconds remaining - near midcourt. Teammate Richie Frahm (No. 24) was particularly happy, giving Calvary no fewer than two smooches on the cheek.
6. Toting Tyus Edney (1995)
UCLA’s romp to the 1995 national title nearly ended in the Round of 32 against Missouri. Thankfully for the Bruins, diminutive guard Tyus Edney came to the rescue, scoring on a coast-to-coast layup at the buzzer to give UCLA a 75-74 win.
It didn’t take long for one of Edney’s teammates to triumphantly lift him in the air - and promptly drop him. Thankfully, Edney wasn’t injured and continued to propel the Bruins to their record 11th national title.
5. Scorer’s Table Summit (2006)
For the briefest of moments following George Mason’s Final Four-clinching, 86-84 upset of UConn in 2006, Patriots guards Lamar Butler and Tony Skinn celebrated with one another.
Then they quickly turned their attention to the adoring crowd at the Verizon Center in Washington, DC - located just 30 minutes away from GMU’s Fairfax, VA - and mounted the scorer’s table. Butler and Skinn were soon joined there by several of their teammates.
That the moment was paired with Verne Lundquist’s memorable exclamation of “By George, the dream is alive!” on the CBS telecast makes it that much sweeter.
4. Celebrating ‘The Shot’ (1992)
The magic of the subsequent celebration following Christian Laettner’s legendary game-winner for Duke against Kentucky in the 1992 Elite Eight is three-pronged.
Underneath the hoop which the buzzer-beating shot went through, you have Antonio Lang collapsing to the floor in joy and splaying his legs out. On the bench you have Thomas Hill seemingly on the verge of tears (which he said many years later was “just a facial expression”).
And then there’s the Blue Devils dog pile which, rather cruelly, came to a halt right in front of the dejected Wildcats’ bench.
3. Jolly Pirates (2001)
“I don’t remember anything from the horn going off,” former Hampton head coach Steve Merfeld told Sports Illustrated last March when recalling his 15th-seeded Pirates’ 58-57 upset of second-seeded Iowa State in 2001, “and then hearing him in my ear say, ‘I got you, coach. I got you, coach. I got you.’ ”
“Him” was one of Merfeld’s players, David Johnson, who lifted his coach - legs flailing and arms raised in celebration - triumphantly into the air. When the topic of conversation is massive Round of 64 upsets, it’s hard not to have this image in one’s mind.
2. Victorious Valpo (1998)
Looking back now, it’s so goofy that Bryce Drew celebrated his miraculous game-winner over Ole Miss in the 1998 Round of 64 by diving to the floor as if he were entering a Slip’N Slide.
But we’re so glad he did, as Valpo’s dogpile with a Crusader player holding his fist to the sky in ecstasy is one of the most indelible images in March Madness history.
1. Jimmy V Wants a Hug (1983)
Our pick for the greatest March Madness victory celebration of all-time is, appropriately, the only one on this list that was in reaction to a national championship.
NC State head coach Jim Valvano’s antics following his Wolfpack’s 54-52 upset of heavily favored Houston is now entrenched in Big Dance lore. After Lorenzo Charles dunked home the winning points just before the horn sounded, Jimmy V went tearing around the court at The Pit in Albuquerque, looking for somebody, anybody to hug.
Valvano eventually doubled back and found Charles and a few other of his players underneath the hoop for just that. Putting any other celebration at the top of this list would be sheer lunacy.