NCAA tournament at 75: The top 75 moments
ESPN.com
February 22, 2013
t Facebook t Twitter

The words are a bit over the top, the music somewhat melodramatic, but there is a reason the saccharine-sweet strains of "One Shining Moment" still resonate at each NCAA tournament. The tournament is all about moments, incredible and awe-inspiring, seemingly impossible and equally unpredictable. The buzzer-beaters make March mad, the emotions make it last.

To pick the best ever is almost as difficult as sinking Ali Farokhmanesh's dagger or Bryce Drew's hook-and-ladder, but you know the best when you see them. They are the moments that last. That shine, if you will. -- Dana O'Neil

1. Laettner lifts Duke

There was madness before and plenty after the shot, but it stands alone as the iconic moment of the NCAA tournament. If you were in Philadelphia on March 28, 1992, and you witnessed Christian Laettner's impossible buzzer-beater to beat Kentucky in the Elite Eight, you carry it like a badge of honor. If you watched it on television, you remember where you were. If you weren't born yet, you wish you had been. Grant Hill's perfect pass went directly to Laettner, who then turned and swished the most epic shot in NCAA history. Now, more than 20 years and plenty of buzzer-beaters later, it remains The Moment that stands above all the rest. A moment that stands the test of time and always will. -- Dana O'Neil

2. Lorenzo slams it home

The lasting image of North Carolina State's upset of Houston in the 1983 national championship game is of coach Jim Valvano darting across the court with his hands raised after his team's 54-52 victory. None of it, though, would've occurred if not for Lorenzo Charles. As the final moments ticked away, Charles caught an errant 30-foot shot by Dereck Whittenburg near the rim and slammed the ball through the basket as time expired. NC State retired Charles' number in 2008. Charles died in a bus crash in 2011 at the age of 47. -- Jason King

3. Texas Western makes history

How to quantify such a moment in 100 words? Impossible. Texas Western's 1966 national championship marked the first time a team with five African-American players in the starting lineup won a title. It came against Kentucky, one of the premier programs in the nation, and one of the most resistant to integration. It came in the middle of the throes of the civil rights movement, after the March on Washington, before the assassination of Martin Luther King Jr. It happened because one man, Don Haskins, looked at the laws of racial inequality and decided they were foolish, death threats be damned. And it changed everything. -- Dana O'Neil

4. Magic vs. Bird

The Magic-Bird game of 1979 in Salt Lake City will go down for many of us in our 40s as the game that sparked interest in the NCAA tournament. Larry Bird's Indiana State team was the surprise of college basketball, coming into the game 33-0, and Bird was all business, leading an underwhelming cast of characters. Magic Johnson had more talent around him, although not many NBA-caliber players, and more finesse and showtime. Magic and Michigan State outran Indiana State in the second half, winning the national title 75-64. The game took on a life of its own and essentially created the interest in the Final Four. Of course, the Bird-Magic rivalry also helped save the NBA. When Bird went to the Celtics and Magic to the Lakers, they continued a rivalry that lasted throughout the 1980s. -- Andy Katz

5. Jordan's shot vs. Georgetown, 1982 title game

Before he became the Greatest Player Of All Time, Michael Jordan was a freshman on a bus, headed toward the Louisiana Superdome in 1982 and daydreaming about hitting the shot that would win North Carolina coach Dean Smith his first national title. And with 15 seconds left against Georgetown, he did it. Point guard Jimmy Black, on the right side of the key, first looked to James Worthy for a lob then quickly swung a pass to Jordan on the left side. The rookie confidently hit a 16-footer, giving the Tar Heels a 63-62 lead and ultimately making that pregame daydream a reality. -- Robbi Pickeral

6. Chris Webber's timeout

For the second straight season, the Fab Five reached the NCAA title game to face a team from North Carolina. As freshmen, the Fab Five lost to Duke in 1992 national title. As sophomores in the '93 national championship, they were in a tight game against the Tar Heels. In what turned into an iconic moment, Chris Webber called a timeout when Michigan had none. Since then, there have been questions about whether the Wolverines' bench was telling Webber to call the timeout, which resulted in a technical foul and two free throws for UNC. Donald Williams made both to ice the game -- and the title -- for the Tar Heels. -- Michael Rothstein

7. Walton's big night

Walton turned in one of the greatest performances in NCAA tournament history when he made 21 of 22 shots en route to a 44-point, 13-rebound effort against Memphis State in the 1973 title game. And the numbers could've been even better. Walton left the game with an injured ankle with three minutes remaining and his team leading by 15 points. A Memphis State player actually helped him to the bench. After what Walton had just accomplished, it was impossible not to pay him respect. Dunking wasn't allowed during that era, so most of Walton's baskets came on turnaround jumpers or on lob passes from Greg Lee. The score was tied 45-45 early in the second half before Walton and UCLA ran away with an 87-66 victory. -- Jason King

8. Bo Kimble's lefty free throws, 1990

In the late 1980s, Bo Kimble and Hank Gathers led the nation's most vibrant offense at Loyola Marymount. Kimble led the nation in scoring with 35.3 ppg, and Gathers, his teammate and best friend, averaged 29.0 ppg. The duo's connection ended tragically when Gathers collapsed and died during the 1990 West Coast Conference tournament. During an NCAA tournament opening-round matchup against New Mexico State that year, Kimble shot his first free throw with his left hand to honor his fallen teammate. And he made it. Gathers was right-handed, but he liked to shoot with his left. As Loyola Marymount pushed toward the Elite Eight, Kimble shot and made two more free throws with his left hand. He was 3-for-3. The gesture captivated the nation. -- Myron Medcalf

9. Super 'Nova How unlikely was No. 8 Villanova's 66-64 upset of No. 1 Georgetown in the 1985 national championship game? The Wildcats lost their regular-season finale by 23 points and then were bounced from the Big East tournament by a 15-point defeat in the semifinals. But Villanova beat No. 9 Dayton, No. 1 Michigan, No. 5 Maryland, No. 2 North Carolina and No. 2 Memphis State to meet mighty Georgetown in the championship game. The Wildcats put together a nearly perfect game in one of the biggest upsets in NCAA tournament history. Against Georgetown's menacing pressure...
Next >

t Facebook t Twitter
MORE NCAAB COVERAGE
NCAAB HOME PAGE
SCORES & SCHEDULES
NEWS
ANALYSIS
RANKINGS
TEAMS
PLAYERS
STANDINGS
TEAM STATS
INDIVIDUAL STATS
RUMOR CENTRAL
DAILY LINE
Back to Top
ESPN Mobile Web Home
En Español
ABC News Headlines
Help and Feedback
Search
Terms of Use
Interest-Based Ads
Privacy Policy/Your California Privacy Rights
SIGN IN