The Big Dance was supposed to kick off today. Here's to getting through March Sadness together.
Today is probably the most bittersweet day for sport fans during this coronavirus outbreak. Yes, it's a worldwide emergency. Yes, it is serious. Yes, there are way more important things to be upset about right about now.
But for many Americans, today should have been the best non-work workday of the year.
It's officially March Sadness.
March Madness was supposed to start today.
You know what I'm talking about. Your boss thinks you are staring intently at your computer working away, when you are, in fact, staring intently at four different games on your screen.
You tell your coworkers to get into the conference room as 'we need to go over the figures', which means that you are comparing brackets out of sight of your non-cool coworkers. You try to convince your boss that having the games on the big TV will actually improve productivity. You almost have an aneurysm because the girl in accounting that picked her bracket based on which mascot is 'cuter' is kicking your well thought-out and researched bracket's ass.
But instead, we are sitting at home learning how important teachers are, having no excuse to avoid the honey do list, and wondering how things could have been.
The Washington Post decided to run a simulation and the results gave my beloved alma mater (THEE Ohio State Buckeyes) the national championship. I know, a fan should not claim a simulated chip, but I am still having a t-shirt made. Instead of shutting down beaches, the government of Florida spent its time passing a resolution claiming that Florida State won.
It is a sad day for sports fans. But it is ok. This means we will appreciate next year's tournament (and the kids who play all-out in it) that much more. Next year's "One Shining Moment" will be one for the ages.
A consolation… Here are 10 of the best buzzer beaters in NCAA Tournament history. Enjoy the thrill of victory, the agony of defeat and the joy that something as trivial as throwing a ball in a hoop can bring many of us.
10. Northwestern State over Iowa
In 2006, in the first round of the tournament, Northwestern State (14) was playing Iowa (3). In the end, Jermaine Wallace threw up a 3 from the corner as he fell off the court. The Iowa players looked stunned and defeated, only to realize they themselves could have a miracle moment—only to miss and crash out of the tourney.
9. Ulysses “US” Reed’s half-court shot
The Houston Cougars were playing the Louisville Cardinals in a slugfest that would take the winner into the Sweet 16. In what can easily be called the "prayer of all prayers", Ulysses "US" Reed threw up a wild attempt from half court and sunk it. Louisville's hopes of a title died an inglorious death.
8. UConn over Washington
UConn was favored and a 2 seed when it played 11 seed Washington in this match-up which would send the winner into the Elite 8. Richard Hamilton was a stud for UConn and showed us why. As the clock ran down and UConn missed attempt after attempt, Hamilton got his own rebound and, while falling, sunk the winner to advance the Huskies.
7. UNI over Texas
If there is one thing that March Madness has taught us, it is that you play until the end regardless of how improbable the outcome will be. Texas was playing Northern Iowa in its first match up of the tourney and made a late bucket to tie it. The Longhorns seemed not to expect much of a response from the Panthers and played pretty loose. Northern Iowa's Paul Jesperson took the ball to half court and sent heartbreak and despair deep into the heart of Texas.
6. Bryce Drew kills the Rebels
Valparaiso had a decent basketball program back in the 90s under legendary coach Homer Drew. But not too many people expected them to beat 4 seed Ole Miss when they played in the 1998 tournament. Drew's son Bryce got the ball and launched a 3, and Valpo shocked the world.
5. Don’t Give Up, Never Give Up
With one of the all-time "I meant to pass it" moments in sports, the NC State Wolfpack won the national title over Houston when Lorenzo Charles snatched a last second airball and laid up the game winner at the buzzer. The game was legendary, and the images of the late NC State coach Jim Valvano running around looking for someone to hug is one of the most iconic moments in sports history.
4. Laettner’s forgotten shot
With a trip to the Final Four on the line, Duke found themselves up against UConn (who had advanced previously with a buzzer beater of their own – see below). In what is probably the most obvious foreshadowing ever, the announcer states; "This is interesting, UConn is not playing the passer." The passer was only Christian Laettner, who was only the best college basketball player in the country. Laettner inbounded the ball, got it right back and sunk a buzzer beater that would be forgotten because he would end up with a better one than this (see below).
3. Tate George
In what is probably the longest second in history, Tate George propelled UConn over Clemson for a berth in the Elite 8. There is nothing about this that makes sense. The time on the clock, the long pass throwing George off balance, and the now off-balance George spinning wildly and launching a prayer… all in under a second. March Madness indeed.
2. Laettner’s shot
This is the one you remember. It is about as iconic of a moment in college basketball as there ever could be. Duke vs Kentucky in overtime. Kentucky up by one with 2.1 seconds left. A trip to the Final Four at stake. Grant Hill throws the football pass (his dad played in the NFL) to Laettner standing at the foul line. Laettner grabs it, dribbles, spins and shoots and ………well here's Chris Farley to tell you.
1. Villanova’s Crying Jordan buzzer beater
UNC had just shot a 3-pointer to tie the game. Villanova ran a play to win it in regulation. Running down the court, they had a set play and it worked perfectly. Kris Jenkins runs up the middle of the court, grabs the pass, launches a three pointer that he knew would go in. Jenkins would later say, "I think every shot will go in, and this one was no different." But it was. This one was the greatest buzzer beater in NCAA Tournament history.
Tell us which of these (or any others) March Madness moments were your favorites!
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