Best March Madness Buzzer Beaters
Best March Madness Games
By Angelo Montilla
1. Christian Laettner, Duke vs. Kentucky — Elite 8 (1992)
Duke’s second straight NCAA men’s basketball title wouldn’t even have been possible had Laettner’s fade-away jump shot with time expiring not gone in as the Blue Devils defeated the Kentucky Wildcats in an Elite 8 clash. With 2.1 second left on the clock, the Blue Devils were forced to inbound the ball from full court. That’s when Grant Hill launched a full-court pass right into Laettner’s hands. The big man made it look easy from there.
2. Lorenzo Charles, NC State vs. Houston — National Championship (1983)
With time ticking away, so were NC State’s chances of winning the NCAA title. The game was deadlocked at 52 points apiece when Dereck Whittenburg put up a three-pointer from long range. The shot was destined to be an air ball, until Charles caught the ball and laid it in with time expiring. NC State coach Jim Valvano’s reaction is still impressive to this day.
3. Kris Jenkins, Villanova vs. North Carolina — National Championship (2016)
The 2016 March Madness final looked as if it was heading to extra time as both teams were tied at 74-74 late in the fourth quarter. However with 0.7 seconds remaining, Jenkins hit a game-winning three pointer to give the Villanova Wildcats their second NCAA title in school history.
4. Bryce Drew, Valparaiso vs. Ole Miss, First Round (1998)
Often times, some of the best buzzer beaters come in the early rounds when Cinderella teams stun a higher seed. That was the case during the 1998 tournament when Drew hit a buzzer to lift the No. 13 Valparaiso Crusaders past the Mississippi Rebels.
5. Tate George, UConn vs. Clemson, Sweet 16 (1990)
What seemed like an improbable play turned into a thrilling finish as the top-seeded UConn Huskies avoided the upset against No. 5 Clemson. The Huskies were down one point with one second left on the clock when George caught a full-court inbound pass from Scott Burrell before sinking a buzzer-beating shot.
6. James Forrest, Georgia Tech vs. USC, Second Round (1992)
There’s not much you can create with 0.8 seconds left on the clock. But Forrest had just enough time to catch an inbound pass and nail a three-point buzzer beater, lifting the Yellow Jackets to a victory over the USC Trojans early in the 1990 tournament. Al McGuire’s “Holy Mackerel!” call made the shot that much better.
7. Christian Laettner, Duke vs. UConn, Elite 8 (1990)
It’s not the buzzer beater Laettner is most well known for, but this game-winning shot against the top-ranked UConn Huskies ranks a close second. Laettner sent the No. 3 Blue Devils to the Final Four, nailing a mid-range jumper with 2.6 second left on the clock.
8. Tyus Edney, UCLA vs. Missouri, Second Round (1995)
The 1995 NCAA national champion UCLA Bruins almost fell short in the second round of the tournament against the eighth-ranked Missouri Tigers. Facing a one-point deficit with 4.8 seconds remaining on the clock, the Bruins went coast-to-coast before Edney laid in a buzzer-beating game winning basket.
9. Richard Hamilton, UConn vs. Washington, Sweet 16 (1998)
The Huskies had several opportunities to end this game but couldn’t get the ball to fall through the basket. That was until Hamilton grabbed UConn’s third offensive rebound of the sequence and put up a fade-away shot in the key that hit fell through, sending the Huskies to the Elite 8.
10. Korie Lucious, Michigan State vs. Maryland, Second Round, (2010)
With 6.6 left on the clock, the Michigan State Spartans had just enough time to march down the court and set up a game-winning shot to defeat the fourth-seeded Maryland Terrapins. Down by one point, Lucious pulled up at the three-point line and ended the game. The Spartans went on to reach the Final Four.