Here are nine of the best ever March Madness buzzer-beaters.
Kris Jenkins, Villanova, 2016
The Tar Heels’ Marcus Paige hit a shot a few seconds prior that seemed like it would go down in history in time. It did. As the shot before the shot.
It doesn’t get much better than Jenkins’ 3 to win the national championship against North Carolina in 2016. Watch:
Jay Wright’s stone cold demeanor as the shot went in. Charles Barkley going nuts on the Turner set. The immediate court storm from Villanova. Jenkins’ shot will be played on March Madness highlight reels forever.
Paul Jesperson, Northern Iowa, 2016
The 2016 NCAA tournament was bonkers. No, Jesperson’s shot didn’t have the stakes attached that Jenkins’ did. Northern Iowa-Texas was a Round of 64 game. But the shot itself was far more improbable:
Northern Iowa only had 2.7 seconds when it inbounded the ball. Most teams try a full-court pass and turnaround jumper (as we’ll see later).
Instead, Jesperson went and drained a half-court buzzer beater. Unreal.
Bryce Drew, Valparaiso, 1998
Didn’t have to wait long for the full-court pass that turned into a 3. Drew, playing for his dad Homer Drew, is now the head man at Vanderbilt. He rose to fame when he hit this dagger against Ole Miss in the 1998 tournament.
Something to note: Valpo was trailing by two when Drew hit his shot; the pressure was enormous. And this was a group effort. The baseball pass was well executed, as was the quick pitch to Drew for the game winner.
Rip Hamilton, UConn, 1998
Hamilton hit a last-second dagger to send UConn to the Elite Eight in 1998, and the manner in which he did so was enthralling. He missed an easier shot on the same possession, but hit this tough fadeaway as time expired.
It was the Huskies’ third shot of the possession, and both teams played pinball for a while. But Hamilton, who went on to have a long NBA career, came through when it mattered most.
Christian Laettner, Duke, 1992
Of course Laettner’s shot against Kentucky in 1992 was going to make the list. It still might be the most famous March Madness buzzer beater ever, though Jenkins’ game-winner has a place in that discussion now.
Here it is:
This shot only added to the legend of Laettner. The best player in the sport knocking down a ridiculous shot as time expired against fellow powerhouse Kentucky; you can’t write it much better. You’ve likely seen this shot plenty of times, and for good reason. It was an instant classic.
Christian Laettner, Duke, 1990
Didn’t take long for Laettner’s name to appear for a second time on this list. Sure, his 1992 buzzer beater against Kentucky is his most significant moment. But Laettner was clutch long before that shot.
The degree of difficulty wasn’t as high on this look against UConn, but Laettner still had to double-pump to get it off:
The Blue Devil one of the most decorated players in college basketball history, and shots like these explain why.
Tate George, UConn, 1990
George’s shot was fantastic, but Scott Burrell’s baseball pass was probably the best thing about this play. George sent Clemson home from the NCAA tournament with a turnaround jumper as time expired:
An underrated aspect of this is George’s slight fake once he catches the ball. It looked like the Clemson defender was expecting George to pass, but instead, he rose and fired. He hit nothing but net. Side note: there’s a lot of UConn and Duke on this list. Those two programs have gone through plenty of dramatic Big Dance moments.
Lorenzo Charles, N.C. State, 1983
The “shot” itself was just a putback, but this N.C. State team was iconic. Jim Valvano was the head coach, and the Wolfpack were a 6-seed going up against Phi Slama Jama in the national championship.
It was a fitting way to end N.C. State’s tournament, beating a team consisting of Hakeem Olajuwon and Clyde Drexler in such epic (and kind of lucky) fashion. This play will always be remembered.
U.S. Reed, Arkansas, 1981
Yes, Jesperson pulled a U.S. Reed (what a name) in 2016. After some chaos on the court in a game between Arkansas and Louisville, Reed calmly got the ball and launched from half court. The result:
Bottoms. Louisville was the defending national champion at the time, and to go out like this had to have been a gut punch. A fun fact: this was before the 3-point line. So Reed’s 49-footer was only worth two points, but that was enough to seal the victory.
Did we miss any of your favorites? Let us know any we should add to the list at NCAASupport@turner.com.