Memorable March Madness games of the past decade
Look back at some of the best NCAA Tournament games since 2003.
2003 NCAA CHAMPIONSHIP: No. 3 Syracuse 81, No. 2 Kansas 78
The Orange jumped to a 53-42 lead at the half and led 76-64 with less than five minutes remaining. Nick Collison and Kirk Hinrich then each drained threes for the Jayhawks, cutting the deficit to 76-70. Two minutes later, after a Michael Lee layup, Kansas was down three, 80-77. Syracuse had a chance to put it away with a minute left, but Hakim Warrick missed a free throw, giving Kansas the ball down 81-78. A late desperation three was off the mark, though, and the Orange escaped with the win and the national title. |
2004 FINAL FOUR: No. 2 UConn 79, No. 1 Duke 78
The Huskies trailed, 75-67, late when Emeka Okafor went to work. With all three of Duke’s centers fouled out, Okafor single-handedly shut down the Blue Devils’ interior offense. UConn cut the lead to 75-74 with less than a minute to play. Then, with 26 seconds left, Okafor gave UConn the lead. After an empty Duke possession, Rashad Anderson hit a pair of free throws. J.J. Redick nearly airballed a three on the ensuing possession, and Okafor’s free throw sent UConn to the national championship game. |
2005 ELITE EIGHT: No. 1 Illinois 90, No. 2 Arizona 89
Up 15 with less than four minutes to go, it looked like Arizona had its ticket punched to the Final Four. Not so fast. Illinois pulled to within five with 58 seconds left in regulation, and off an Arizona turnover, an Illini layup cut the lead to 80-77. On the ensuing possession, Illinois again forced a turnover, and again converted, drilling a three with 38 seconds left to tie the score at 80. The two teams headed to overtime, and Illinois completed the comeback, winning 90-89 to earn a trip to the Final Four.
2005 NCAA CHAMPIONSHIP: No. 1 North Carolina 75, No. 1 Illinois 70
A week after coming back to beat Arizona in the Elite Eight, Illinois again found itself in a big second-half hole. Trailing by 13 at halftime, the Illini started to ramp up its defense. UNC star Rashad McCants was held without a field goal in the second half, allowing Illinois to climb back within three, 70-67. And after Deron Williams drilled a 3-pointer, the two teams were tied with under two minutes to go. That was Illinois’ last field goal, though. Marvin Williams hit a tip-in to put North Carolina up three, and Raymond Felton iced it with three free throws.
UCLA looked hopeless early on, trailing 37-20 late in the first half. And with 3:13 left in the game, the Zags still led big, 71-62. Luc Richard Mbah a Moute and the Bruins’ offense then turned it on. Mbah a Moute hit a pair of free throws and then a layup to cut the lead to 71-66. Jordan Farmar and Ryan Hollins cut the deficit to one with 19.7 seconds left. Mbah a Moute then finished what he started, dropping in an easy layup to give UCLA the lead. Arron Afflalo added a free throw for UCLA, and the Bruins headed to the Elite Eight.
2006 ELITE EIGHT: No. 11 George Mason 86, No. 1 UConn 84
The Patriots had an historic run through March. The mid-major snuck into the NCAA tournament, beat Michigan State, UNC and Wichita State before facing UConn. George Mason opened the second half on an 18-8 run, and led 52-51 with less than 11 minutes to go. Neither team had a significant lead, and in the final 10 seconds, George Mason led 74-70. UConn’s Marcus Williams cut it to two with 7.9 seconds left, and after George Mason missed the front end of a one-and-one, UConn converted a reverse layup at the buzzer to force OT. George Mason jumped to a five-point lead in OT and never trailed.
2007 ROUND OF 32: No. 1 Ohio State 78, No. 9 Xavier 71
Two teams, same state. Xavier led 59-50 with less than three minutes remaining, but clutch baskets from Buckeyes Ron Lewis and Jamar Butler pulled Ohio State within three with 9.3 seconds remaining. After a missed free throw by Xavier's Justin Cage, Ohio State’s Mike Conley rushed up the court and found Lewis, who made a game-tying 3-pointer with two seconds remaining, forcing overtime. Freshman point guard Conley proceeded to score Ohio State's first seven points in overtime, leading the Buckeyes to a 78-71 win. |
2008 ROUND OF 32: No. 10 Davidson 74, No. 2 Georgetown 70
Georgetown jumped to a 38-27 halftime lead and opened the second half on an 8-2 run for a 17-point lead with 18 minutes to go. Super sophomore Stephen Curry then caught fire. Thanks to Curry’s sharpshooting, Davidson went on a 31-12 run of their own to take a 60-58 lead with 4:40 left. Curry added five free throws in the final 23 seconds to clinch the win and help the Wildcats advance to the Sweet 16. He finished with 30 points, including 25 in the second half. |
2008 NCAA CHAMPIONSHIP: No. 1 Kansas 75, No. 1 Memphis 68
With 2:12 left, Kansas trailed by nine. Darrell Arthur drilled a jumper and Sherron Collins hit a three, cutting the lead to 60-56 in 23 seconds. The teams exchanged baskets, and a Derrick Rose free throw with 10 seconds left had Memphis up, 63-60. Kansas’ Mario Chalmers then hit one of the most memorable shots in NCAA Tournament history, an overtime-forcing three with less than 10 seconds left. The Jayhawks outscored the Tigers, 12-5, in OT for their first national title since 1988. |
2009 ELITE EIGHT: No. 3 Villanova 78, No. 1 Pittsburgh 76
No crazy comeback here, but the game-winner was one of the most memorable in NCAA history. Nova and Pitt went back-and-forth most of the game. The Wildcats trailed Pittsburgh, 34-32, at the half. Pitt pushed the lead to 67-63 with less than three minutes left, but a 13-7 run had Nova up two in the final minute. Levance Fields sank two free throws, tying it at 76 with 5.5 seconds left. Off the inbounds, Scottie Reynolds then charged up the court, weaved through Pitt defenders, and hit a layup with 0.5 seconds left, sending the Wildcats to the Final Four. |
2010 NCAA CHAMPIONSHIP: No. 1 Duke 61, No. 5 Butler 59
Nolan Smith's free throws with 3:16 left put Duke up 60-55. However, Butler’s defense held Duke scoreless for over three minutes, and a pair of Matt Howard layups cut the lead to 60-59. Gordon Hayward then had a chance to put the Bulldogs up with five seconds left, but his off-balance jumper was off the mark. Duke's Brian Zoubek grabbed the rebound and was fouled. He hit the first one and intentionally missed the second with Butler out of timeouts. Hayward grabbed the board and heaved it from half-court with a second left. The shot hit the backboard and rattled out. |
2011 SWEET 16: No. 11 VCU 72, No. 10 Florida State 71
Up nine late in regulation, the Rams went cold, scoring only three times in the final 7:37 to let Florida State force overtime. Late in the extra period, their Cinderella run was again in jeopardy, with the Seminoles up 71-70 with less than 10 seconds left. Bradford Burgess managed a layup off an inbounds pass with 7.1 seconds left in overtime, though, giving VCU a win. Two days later, VCU shocked Kansas, propelling a CAA team to the Final Four five years after conference mate George Mason’s magic run. |