Although the NCAA Tournament has already begun with the “opening round” games, the action gets underway in earnest tomorrow afternoon. To celebrate, here are my three top March Madness buzzer beaters.
Off the top of my head, the greatest buzzer beater ever is probably the late Lorenzo Charles’ dunk to win the 1983 title for N.C. State. (Tyus Edney is up there, too.) I was all of four years old when Charles put the Wolfpack over the top, so I can’t really count that one as a personal favorite. With that in mind, I’ve included only shots that I recall seeing as they happened.
3. Drew Nicholas (Maryland) v. UNC Wilmington, 2003: Mostly for the way that Nicholas ran off the floor immediately after the shot. Maryland, the 2002 champion, defeated UNC Wilmington and Xavier before being eliminated from the 2003 tourney by Michigan State.
2. Christian Laettner (Duke) v. Kentucky, 1992: Cliché, I know, but I have a vivid recollection of practicing that shot in my parents’ driveway immediately after the end of the game.
FYI: According to the Wall Street Journal, Laettner is currently a D-League assistant coach for the Fort Wayne Mad Ants and a defendant in several civil suits. (Tip of the cap to Charles P. Pierce at Grantland.)
1. Richard “Rip” Hamilton (UConn) v. Washington, 1998: I watched this one with my roommates during my freshman year of college. The suspense increased with each UConn attempt and finally reached an unbearable level before Hamilton won the game for the Huskies.
Least Favorite: Matt Howard (Butler) v. ODU, 2011: This game still has the ODU Monarchs and their fans wondering what might have been. After this first-round victory, Butler advanced all the way to the national final before losing to UConn.