And we had our share in the 2018 NCAA tournament, but we’ve also seen some extraordinary performances in the regular season so far. They weren’t all just shots. There were comebacks, wins and moments that will have endless shelf life.
Here is my list of the best of the best in the calendar year of 2018 (in no particular order):
March 17| Michigan’s Jordan Poole beats Houston on a buzzer-beating 3-pointer, ultimately leading the Wolverines to the Final Four/national title game: Poole’s shot was so epic that it may be hard to ever duplicate at Michigan. The Wolverines were done. Toast. Houston was moving on and then Poole buried the buzzer-beating 3-pointer. The Wolverines’ run to the title game seemed magical because of this shot.
March 16| UMBC shocks Virginia in the first 16 over a 1: There wasn’t one moment in the game that defined the upset. This was a continuous unraveling for the Cavaliers and a momentum burst for Retrievers that spawned an incredible result. UMBC will always be the first 16 to beat a 1.
March 17| Loyola-Chicago beats Tennessee in the last possession in the second round, leading to a historic run to the Final Four: The win over the Vols was the catalyst to jump start the Ramblers to an unforgettable run to the Final Four. The national platform given to Sister Jean was so welcomed for the sport. Her Final Four news conference was as packed as any I’ve ever seen — for any coach/player.
March 25| Kansas outlasts Duke in overtime to win the most entertaining and intense game of the 2018 NCAA tournament, earning a trip to the Final Four: This was a title-type match. Kansas and Duke played at such a high level for 45 minutes, and the atmosphere in Omaha delivered. This is the type of game that the NCAA tournament can deliver on a yearly basis.
April 2| Villanova cruises to the national title behind Donte DiVincenzo’s 31 points off the bench: This was as dominating a performance off the bench as anyone has ever had in the title game. The Wildcats thoroughly beat Michigan for their second title in three seasons.
March 18| Nevada comes back from 22-down to knock off No. 2 Cincinnati in the second round and set up the Wolf Pack season for 2019: The Wolf Pack looked dead, done, over, but then came roaring back. This win set up what we’re seeing now with the Wolf Pack — a possible Final Four team.
March 15| Buffalo upsets Arizona in NCAA tournament first round, a preview of what we’re seeing now: The Bulls were no fluke then and they aren’t now.
March 11| Kansas State stuns Kentucky in the Sweet 16 to advance to the Elite Eight: The Wildcats locker room was filled with delirium and delight after this take down of a Blue Blood giant.
January 20| Oklahoma’s Trae Young goes for 48 points in an epic rivalry loss to Oklahoma State: Young had a slew of magnificent moments last season, but this one summed up his season. He scored at will but the Sooners still lost. They weren’t able to find consistency, even with his immense talent.
January 4| Marquette’s Markus Howard scores 52 in a road win at Providence in the performance of the season: This was the single best performance of the 2017-18 season. Howard scored at will against the Friars. He was sensational.
November 6| Zion Williamson dunks his way to stardom in Duke’s dominating season-opening win over Kentucky: Williamson was on display for the world to see at the Champions Classic. His size, strength and intensity in how he finishes has set the tone for this season.
DUNK TRACKER: Watch Zion Williamson’s best dunks of the season
November 21| Gonzaga outlasts Duke in an epic Maui Invitational final: The Zags took down mighty Duke in Maui, to make it clear that the Zags can compete for the title.
December 15| Rob Phinisee hits a buzzer-beater as Indiana beats Butler in the Crossroads Classic: This wasn’t equal to Christian Watford’s buzzer-beater, court-storming shot to beat Kentucky at Assembly Hall. But it was pretty darn close.
November 7| Andrew Jones converts a free throw as the Texas guard makes a remarkable comeback from Leukemia: This wasn’t a nationally televised game but it has been one of the best moments of 2018. Jones isn’t all the way back yet, but this proved he might get there soon.
December 8| Seton Hall and Kentucky trade last-second 3s to force overtime as Myles Powell is outdone by Keldon Johnson who is surpassed by Myles Cale in overtime for the Pirates win: This may turn out to be one of the best games of the season. Madison Square Garden was at its best as the two teams hit back-to-back epic shots.
December 11| Penn stuns Villanova at the Palestra to snap the Wildcats’ 25-game Big Five winning streak and give the Quakers their first win over Penn since 2002: The Big Five in Phily doesn’t have the national appeal but it means so much in Philadelphia. Still, Nova had to lose at some point for the rest of the schools to feel like they’ve got a chance to make this a real rivalry again.
December 6| Rui Hachimura hits a game-winning shot to knock off Washington in the Zags’ final possession: The Zags got pushed to the limit by their in-state rival and Hachimura proved he can be a national player of the year candidate by hitting the game winner.
December 9| Admiral Schofield hits a game-winning 3-pointer to beat Gonzaga in Phoenix, three of his 30 points: Schofield looked like a national player of the year candidate by taking over the game in the final possession. He buried a deep NBA 3-pointer to knock off the previously unbeaten and No. 1 Zags.
December 8| UCLA’s Kris Wilkes hits a game-winning 3-pointer while cramping to beat Notre Dame: The Bruins have struggled mightily this season but Wilkes’ 3-pointer is the highlight as he stumbled away after hitting the shot, cramping on his way to the Pauley Pavilion floor.
November 17| Furman stuns Villanova in overtime behind Jordan Lyons’ 17 points: This was one of the most shocking results of the season — but it may have just been an indicator of great things to come for the one-loss Paladins, who could be trouble for any opponent in the NCAA tournament if they win the Southern Conference.