Part of the NCAA tournament’s identity lies in the vast amount of classic highlights that we’ve all come to remember and love over the years. Here are March Madness’ 10 most iconic moments.
10. Edney Goes Coast-To-Coast (1995 Second Round)
Sure, this clip isn’t a feel-good story. It’s a storied program winning yet again at the expense of a lesser opponent, on a buzzer-beater no less. It’s almost unfair. But it’s hard not to consider this one of March’s best highlights because, much like BYU’s Danny Ainge did in 1981, UCLA’s Tyus Edney did all the work himself with a coast-to-coast game-winner. It’s replayed every year (even in lego form!) and it just-so-happened to propel the Bruins to a national title. Edney told us in 2009: “I just saw open court. I saw I had the lane and a chance to get the shot up, so I just kept going and went for it.”
9. The Back Door Cut (1996 First Round)
It was like a scene off the cutting room floor of the movie “Hoosiers.” The smaller, less-athletic Princeton Tigers with their old-school coach Pete Carril participating in his final NCAA tournament, taking on the defending national champion UCLA Bruins. All that was missing was Carril measuring the basket prior to the contest. During the game’s waning moments, Princeton executed the world’s most famous back door cut with a then-unknown Gus Johnson as the soundtrack. And the image of Carril, hands in the air with incredulous joy, became seared into our minds.
8. Lying Down On The Job (1985 National Championship)
When you shoot 79 percent from the floor for an entire game against one of the country’s best teams, it’s OK if you just want to lay down. That was probably all Villanova’s Dwayne McClain could do during the final inbounds play of the game. But it was all he needed to do to secure Villanova’s monumental upset over Georgetown in the 1985 title game. Who would’ve thought laying down and cradling the ball was such an effective game-winning play?
7. Jordan & Brown (1982 National Championship)
Michael Jordan’s clutch game-winning shot in the 1982 title game has become a part of NCAA lore as time has passed and his legacy grew. But what people remember even more was Georgetown’s Fred Brown mistaking James Worthy for a Hoya teammate and literally throwing the national championship away. Not until 1993 would a college basketball player commit a mistake as costly and even to this day, it stands out as one of the biggest “oops” in sports history.
6. “The Slipper Still Fits!” (1999 Sweet 16)
Gonzaga wasn’t the first double-digit seed ever to reach the Elite Eight but thanks to Gus Johnson’s famous call, this moment best encapsulates how we as fans react when the small upstart slays one of the big dragons of the NCAA tournament. It’s a mixture of going nuts and then relief that, yes, the glass slipper still does fit.