And just like that, the college basketball season has come to an end. In a season filled with shocking upsets and unbelievable finishes, it’s only fitting that the National Championship game featured the eighth-seeded Kentucky Wildcats and the (victorious!) seventh-seeded UConn Huskies–marking the highest total seeding in the championship game. When you really think about it, these two teams’ unlikely run to the title game are a testament to the unpredictability of March Madness.
We’ve been lucky enough to witness a lot of great games over the past three weeks. You may even argue it’s one of the craziest and most unpredictable NCAA Tournaments in recent memory. I think any time the ESPN analysts’ pick to win it all doesn’t even make it to the Final Four, you’ve got yourself an extremely competitive NCAA Tournament. Although I was upset that my bracket fell apart towards the end, none of that matters because even if I picked the champion from the very beginning, it can’t match all the excitement and great games we’ve seen. Here is our roundup of the greatest moments of the 2014 NCAA Tournament.
10. Texas’ Buzzer Beater Against Arizona State
The Longhorns and Sun Devils delivered one of the most exciting games of the entire second round. The game was neck-and-neck all night until Texas center Cameron Ridley put up the game-winner as time expired to give Texas the 87-85 victory. Ridley led the way for the Horns with a team-high 12 boards and 17 points on 6-of-12 shooting. Ridley’s late game heroics sent Texas to the next round and reinforced to all basketball fans how special March Madness truly is.
9. Stanford Takes Care of Kansas
Stanford pulled off one of the biggest wins in program history with their 60-57 win over Kansas in the third round. The Cardinal held freshman phenom Andrew Wiggins to a disappointing four points on just 1-of-6 shooting for the day. Stanford’s slight edge in field goal percentage proved to be the difference for the guys from Palo Alto despite not sinking a single three-point shot the entire game.
8. Billikens Outlast Wolfpack in Overtime
Saint Louis’ 83-80 overtime win over 12-seed NC State was definitely one of my favorite games of the entire tournament. Led behind the play of senior guard Jordair Jett (and his dreads), the Billikens erased a 14-point deficit with over five minutes remaining in regulation to force overtime where St. Louis put NC State away for good. This game was a bit of a snoozer for a big but all that quickly changed and I found myself on the edge of my seat the rest of the way.
7. Badgers Survive Against Wildcats
The Elite Eight matchup between top-seeded Arizona and no. 2-seed Wisconsin was expected to be a tough battle. So tough that 40 minutes wasn’t enough time to decide a winner. In the end, Wisconsin narrowly edged out Arizona 64-63 in overtime behind the Badgers’ Frank Kaminsky and his 28 points and 11 rebounds. This game was close all the way up to the last couple seconds. Arizona had multiple looks that would have sent them to Arlington but the Wildcats came up short as the Badgers’ punched their ticket to the Final Four.
6. Andrew Harrison’s Late Game Heroics
Let’s just be real for a minute, the Wildcats would not have made it as far as they did without the clutch shooting of freshman guard Aaron Harrison. The freshman came up huge for Kentucky late in their games against Michigan in the Elite Eight and Wisconsin in the Final Four. Harrison launched game-winning three-pointers in both games to keep Kentucky’s championship quest alive.
5. If the Shoe Fits
2014 was definitely the year of the unexpected. Three of the four 12-seeds took down no. 5-seed in the first two days of the tournament. Stephen F. Austin put VCU away with a late four-point play while Harvard picked up an upset for the second consecutive year and the Bison of North Dakota State outlasted the Sooners 80-75. Nothing says March Madness like an upset, and this year proved to be one of the deepest fields in the last couple years and these three upsets can attest to that.
4. Mercer Knocks Off Duke
Mercer pulled off arguably the biggest upset of the entire tournament when the Bears knocked off the Duke Blue Devils 78-71. Duke was able to stay in the game despite shooting just 35.5% from the field. The victory was extremely unexpected and most definitely busted a lot of brackets throughout the country–including my own. This game perfectly demonstrates why we love March Madness so much and calls for a celebration if you ask me.
3. Dayton Flys to the Elite Eight
While we’ve come to expect an improbable run each year during the NCAA Tournament, I don’t think anyone thought it would be Dayton in 2014. The Flyers used their up tempo style to take down Aaron Craft and Ohio State, Jim Boeheim’s zone defense and an up-and-coming Stanford squad. Dayton was able to rally behind one another in what has turned out to be an incredibly impressive tournament run.
2. The Growth of Big Blue Nation
Despite having the no. 1 recruiting class and the preseason no. 1 ranking heading into the 2013 season, very few expected Kentucky to make it to the title game. But this team has overcome numerous challenges on their way to maturing as a team right before our very eyes. They’ve managed to play their best ball of the year when it mattered most behind their young starting lineup. The Wildcats earned their ticket to the title game after handing Wichita State their first loss of the year, defeating in-state rival Louisville and some late game magic in the Elite Eight and national semifinals.
1. UConn’s Unbelievable Championship Run
After escaping a second round scare against the Saint Joseph’s, the Huskies reeled off wins against no. 2-seed Villanova, no. 3-seed Iowa State, no. 4-seed Michigan State, no. 1 overall seed Florida and Kentucky to capture their second national title in four years. And no player was more pivotal to UConn’s success then senior guard Shabazz Napier. The Massachusetts native has played phenomenal throughout the entire tournament, embodying another UConn great who led his team to an unexpected championship run: Kemba Walker.
What was your favorite moment of the NCAA Tournament?
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