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March Madness: Top Ten Moments

Josh Cohen |
April 8, 2015 | 2:27 a.m. PDT

Staff Reporter

Duke capped off another great March Madness. (Twitter)
Duke capped off another great March Madness. (Twitter)

March Madness has come to a close, but this year’s tournament featured a little bit of everything. While the good folks in Durham continue to let the good times roll, let’s take a look back at some of the most memorable moments from the 2015 NCAA Tournament.

10. Ole Miss scores 62 second-half points against BYU

There is a good chance you did not watch this game. A “first four” play-in game between 11-seeds, Ole Miss-BYU was an absolute thriller. BYU led by 17 at the interval, and quite frankly, the Cougars looked like they were going to run away with this one. Then, Rebels coach Andy Kennedy must have given a halftime speech for the ages, as his side looked borderline unstoppable in the second half. Ole Miss dominated BYU in the paint and did well not falling victim to trying to beat the Cougars at their favorite game, the three-point contest. BYU can shoot lights out from deep, but Ole Miss dominated down low and mounted an impressive comeback led by junior guard Stefan Moody. The Rebels scored 62 second-half points in an epic second-half rally en route to a 94-90 victory.   

9. Dayton wins in front of its home crowd     

Playing an NCAA Tournament game in front of your home crowd is unfair. Got it. That said, Dayton-Boise State was another first round game that did not disappoint. This battle of 11-seeds was a hotly contested affair throughout, and seeing the Dayton faithful erupt as their team won on its home floor was quite a sight. Though the Flyers did not have another magical run to the Elite Eight in store, their opener against Boise State served as a reminder that teams in the “last four in” category are still quality squads whose first-round fixtures are certainly worth watching. 

8. D'Angelo Russell comes up big against VCU

Virginia Commonwealth-Ohio State figured to be one of the best games of the round of 64. Well, it turned out to be just that. The chess match between Shaka Smart and Thad Matta was ultimately decided in overtime, as the Buckeyes ousted VCU in a palpitating game. Buckeyes’ star freshman guard D’Angelo Russell torched the Rams, shooting .500 from the field and scoring 28 points.

7. Sam Dekker explodes against Arizona

Speaking of noteworthy individual performances, Wisconsin’s Sam Dekker simply could not miss against Arizona in the game’s closing moments. The Elite Eight bout between the Badgers and Wildcats mirrored their 2014 tournament game, with Wisconsin once again coming out on top. Dekker was 5-for-6 from three-point land and helped the Badgers to their second straight Final Four.  

6. Cincinnati and NC State beat the buzzer

Cincinnati’s buzzer beater to force overtime against Purdue defied physics. NC State’s buzzer beater against LSU also made almost zero sense. How? What? No. Wait. No. You really had to feel for the Purdue and LSU faithful, respectively, because these last-second shots from Cincy and NC State took fortuitous bounces to say the least. Remarkable shots. Remarkable acts of defiance to the physics community.    

5. NC State upsets Villanova

This year’s edition of the tournament did not feature many upsets. However, the Wolfpack followed up an emotional win over LSU with a convincing performance in an upset against Jay Wright’s Villanova Wildcats. NC State rode this wave of momentum to the Sweet 16, where they were sent packing by ACC foe Louisville. Mark Gottfried’s team provided some memorable moments, though, and should be a team to watch out for in the future.   

4. UAB shocks Iowa State

A bracket-buster for many, the University of Alabama at Birmingham upset the South Region’s three-seed in Iowa State. UAB posted a modest 12-6 record in Conference USA play, but freshman forward William Lee recorded a double-double and sparked one of the tournament’s biggest upsets. 

3. Louisville-Michigan State goes to overtime

Mangok Mathiang is not exactly an outstanding free throw shooter. In fact, he shoots, below 50% from the line. But he went 1-for-2 from the charity stripe against Michigan State to tie the game and force overtime. Tom Izzo’s Spartans ultimately advanced to the Final Four, but Mathiang’s eventful trip to the free throw line made for a fantastic end to regulation. As a refresher, Mathiang’s first free throw hit back iron, bounced straight up, glanced off the backboard and somehow dropped. He missed the second, sending the game to OT deadlocked at 65. In the overtime period, Michigan State pulled away from the Cards to advance to the Final Four as the only team not ranked as a one-seed.   

2. Grayson Allen breaks out in the title game

Remember Spike Albrecht in the 2013 National Championship? The diminutive Michigan point guard played an outstanding first half for the Wolverines as he came off the bench and scored 17 points. Duke freshman guard Grayson Allen, who averaged just over four points per game for the Blue Devils this season, turned in a clutch performance against Wisconsin on the biggest stage. Allen tallied 16 points and always appeared to be the hardest worker on the floor. Though he was a high-profile recruit for the Blue Devils, Allen was one of the last guys you would have expected to turn the tide of a title game. Quinn Cook was marvelous early on for Coack K’s side, while Tyus Jones took over in the second half. The momentum-shifter, though, was Allen. Allen just finished his freshman season, and the kid will be a joy to watch as he continues to develop his game.   

1. R.J. Hunter drains three-point bomb to defeat Baylor

Upsets have come to define March Madness. R.J. Hunter’s area code range three-pointer against Baylor appeared to be an absolute prayer, but that prayer was certainly answered. Down by two with just seconds remaining, Georgia State puzzlingly opted to not drive to the rack. Instead, Hunter hoisted up a three. The ensuing splash capped of a wild 12-point comeback from the Panthers in the final two minutes of the game. Baylor’s 21 turnovers made this game far from the most fundamentally sound basketball we saw over the course of this past month, but the father-son duo of Ron and R.J. Hunter captivated the hearts of millions after this improbable upset.

Game of the tournament: Kentucky-Notre Dame

This entire game was a heart-in-mouth experience. John Calipari’s Wildcats squeaked by the Irish in an Elite Eight prizefight after Jerian Grant’s desperation three-ball from the corner sailed just long despite being on-line. Kentucky was pushed to the limit, but they managed to keep their undefeated season intact for the time being. Zach Auguste was a presence for the Irish in the paint, but Kentucky stuck to the script and beat Notre Dame, as freshman sensation Karl-Anthony Towns racked up 25 points. It was quite the encounter—one that saw Coach Cal’s team move to 38-0 on the season. Kentucky’s quest for perfection was the headline of this year’s Big Dance, but the Wildcats fell just shy of accomplishing this seemingly impossible feat. Wisconsin avenged last season’s Final Four loss to Kentucky and doused the perfect season, but this Kentucky team will not be forgotten anytime soon. The 2014-15 Kentucky Wildcats are certainly up there with Michigan’s Fab Five on the list of the best college basketball teams to not win a title.   



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