Top 5 NCAA Tournament Memories

March 18th, 2009

The beauty of the Madness of March is that it is chock-full of “where were you when” moments. Whether it was a big shot, a Cinderella run or a monster dunk, you can probably remember where you were when it happened. That is what makes the NCAA tournament so unique and memorable.

So I’ve dusted off the cobwebs in my mind and come up with my five favorite NCAA tournament memories. Over the past 20 or so years that I’ve been watching the tournament, these are the moments that I remember best.

5) Mario Chalmers shot

There’s nothing more annoying than a player who can’t knock down his free throws (the fact that I shot 55.6% from the charity stripe during my illustrious collegiate career notwithstanding), so it was fitting that Memphis’ refusal to knock down their one-pointers came back to bite them in last year’s tourney. The fact that Memphis let Kansas back in the game and it went to overtime was memorable enough. The fact that Mario Chalmers hit a last second three-pointer to send the game into overtime made it an instant classic.

4) Cal knocks off the champs

I was always intrigued by Jason Kidd ever since I heard about this high school kid that was schooling NBA players in pickup games and packing arenas in the Bay Area. Once he stepped foot onto Cal’s Berkeley campus in 1992/93 I instantly started rooting for the Bears. Matching a playmaker like Kidd up with a collegiate scoring machine like Lamond Murray was a match made in heaven. When Cal and the back-to-back defending champs Duke met in the second round of that year’s tournament, I made sure my house was packed with friends to check out the action. Thankfully my Bears came out on top and my Duke-supporting friend got abused by me for days to come.

3) The Fab Five

Plain and simple, the Fab Five were cool. They brought style and swagger (before swagger annoyingly became “swag”) to the court with their bald heads, baggy shorts and black socks. They were the anti-heroes, a slap in the face of the old fashioned traditionalists. It would have been all for naught if they didn’t have the game to back it up, but luckily Chris, Jimmy, Ray, Juwan and Jalen had skills out the yin-yang. Their charge to the championship game in 1992 was unprecedented and the follow up run in 1993 proved they were no flukes. The fact that they didn’t win - and all records of their performance now erased due to NCAA violations - just seem fitting for the team that normally played the role of the villain.

2) Grant climbs the hill

On a Duke roster packed with NCAA stars, it would have been easy for Grant Hill to get overlooked his freshman year in 1991. Well for anyone that did overlook the precocious swingman, their eyes got opened in the 1991 championship game versus Kansas. While on a fast break, Bobby Hurley lobbed an alley-oop that appeared to be way too high for Hill to get to. Luckily Hill’s elevator had an extra floor back in those days and his reaching, one-handed finish was simply ri-dunk-ulous.

1) Laettner’s shot

For basketball fans, the title pretty much says it all. But Christian Laettner’s unbelievable game winner versus Kentucky in the 1992 Regional Finals shouldn’t have happened. Laettner should have been kicked out of the game for intentionally stomping on the chest of a Wildcats’ player earlier in the game. Apparently Christian could do no wrong that night, even with the refs. His 10 for 10 shooting night is impressive enough, but shot number 10 is the one that makes this perhaps the tournament’s all-time greatest moment. No need to describe the play, since I’m sure you’ve all seen it, but Grant Hill’s pass was perfect and Laettner’s poise and confidence came through for Coach K’s squad once again.

Now it’s your turn. In the comments section below, let us know your favorite March Madness moment. Whoever CHN feels waxed the most poetic will win a copy of March Madness - The Greatest Moments of the NCAA Tournament DVD. Now get to work