Syracuse's Hakim Warrick (1) blocks the shot of Kansas' Michael...

Syracuse's Hakim Warrick (1) blocks the shot of Kansas' Michael Lee (25) in the final seconds of a Final Four game. (April 7, 2003) Credit: AP

Something about New Orleans -- maybe a touch of Creole voodoo -- has produced thrilling endings to the previous NCAA Final Fours staged in the Superdome. The 2012 Final Four features a cast of basketball royalty in Kentucky, Louisville, Ohio State and Kansas, so all the ingredients are in place for another spicy Cajun feast.

But it will take a lot to match Michael Jordan's game-winning shot for North Carolina in 1982, Keith Smart's buzzer-beater for Indiana in 1987, the mistaken timeout by Michigan's Chris Webber in 1993 that ensured North Carolina's win and the blocked shot by Hakeem Warrick in 2003 that secured Syracuse's only title.

Here's a look back at those magical four finals:

1982 -- North Carolina 63, Georgetown 62

With 17 seconds left and North Carolina trailing Georgetown by a point, the ball found freshman Michael Jordan instead of veterans James Worthy, who had a 28-point night, or Sam Perkins. Jordan elevated in the left corner and flicked the purest of jump shots, hitting nothing but nylon with 15 seconds left. "I didn't see it go in," Jordan said after the game. "I was just praying it would go. I never did look at the ball."

It would be nice if the story ended on that high note, but it's remembered as much for the turnover that followed by Hoyas point guard Fred Brown. With eight seconds left, Brown saw Eric (Sleepy) Floyd open and picked up his dribble. The Tar Heels covered Floyd, and Brown saw Patrick Ewing and Ed Spriggs also covered. So, he passed to his right, where he thought he spotted Eric Smith.

"But it wasn't him," Brown told reporters after the game. "It was James Worthy."

Although Worthy missed two free throws with two seconds left, the game was over, and Brown had to live with his mistake. When asked him how he could remain composed after the game, Brown replied, "This is part of growing up."

1987 -- Indiana 74, Syracuse 73

The 1987 NCAA champions recently held a 25th reunion to celebrate that event, which came down to a buzzer-beater by Indiana forward Keith Smart from almost the same spot as Jordan's jumper. "It wasn't so much about what I did in that game, but it was about how we came together as a group and won a national championship," Smart who now is head coach of the NBA's Sacramento Kings, recently told Nola.com. "Here we are 25 years later, and that's still a very memorable moment in college basketball history."

With 28 seconds left, Syracuse forward Derrick Coleman missed the first of a one-and-one free throw. None of his teammates were lined up along the lane to rebound. Though Hoosier Steve Alford had made seven threes and scored 23 points, the final shot went to Smart, who had 21.

"It was just out of our normal offense," Smart told Nola.com. "It wasn't so much who was going to take the shot. We read the defense, and then we played off of that."

The neat thing for Smart was that he grew up just down the road from the Superdome in Baton Rouge and made history where his dreams took shape.

1993 -- North Carolina 77, Michigan 71

Michigan's famous Fab Five reached the title game in 1992 and '93 but never stood on Everest. The failure to take that last step still stings, especially for Chris Webber, who called a timeout the Wolverines didn't have while trailing North Carolina 73-71 with 11 seconds left in the 1993 championship. Webber's nerves showed when he appeared to travel but got away with it. He then dribbled toward the Michigan bench, was trapped by Tar Heels George Lynch and Derrick Phelps and signaled timeout.

A technical foul was called, giving possession to Carolina, which finished with four free throws. Webber, who had 23 points and 11 rebounds, suddenly was the goat. But he received a letter of support from the basketball fan in the White House.

President Bill Clinton wrote, in part: "I know that there may be nothing I or anyone else can say to ease the pain and disappointment of what happened. Still, for whatever it's worth, you, and your team, were terrific. And part of playing for high stakes under great pressure is the constant risk of mental error . . . What matters is the intensity, integrity, and courage you bring to the effort. That is certainly what you have done."

2003 -- Syracuse 81, Kansas 78

Syracuse coach Jim Boeheim came down with a case of deja voodoo when Kansas point guard Kirk Hinrich ignored an open shot from the top of the three-point arc to pass the ball to even more wide-open Michael Lee on the left side for a potential tying three-pointer. That was the side where Indiana's Keith Smart had beaten the Orange for the title in 1987.

But 6-8 Syracuse forward Hakim Warrick flew across the court to swat Lee's shot into the seats with 0.8 seconds left. "I saw him in slow motion," Warrick told reporters after the game. "I was thinking, 'This can't be happening again.' I didn't want another one of those Keith Smart shots."

Warrick's defensive play came moments after he missed a pair of foul shots that would have put the game away. Watching Lee line up his shot, Warrick said, "I thought, 'This dude is wide-open.' From where I started out, I knew I could get to it."

No one was more surprised than Lee, who thought he had plenty of time. "I didn't even know the shot was blocked," Lee said afterward.

"I thought it was still floating in the air."

It was floating into New Orleans lore.

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