By Tyler Thomas

Nothing captures the attention and competitive spirit of families, schools and offices around the country like the annual March Madness basketball tournament.

Over the next three days, millions of Americans will attempt to pick the winner of 63 different games. Then, for the next three weeks, the country will watch as the 64 teams battle it out, ultimately leaving just one standing.

While the stakes get higher as each round progresses, nothing seems to be more action-packed and suspenseful than the Opening Round of 64.

Maybe it’s the prospect of seeing upsets? Over the last five years, almost of third of the 32 first round games were won by the higher number seed, and in 2016, almost half of the higher seeds won.

Or maybe its just the fact that the first 48 games all happen over a span of 96 hours, giving us an addictive saturation of the college basketball?

Whatever the case, over the years, the match ups in the Round of 64 of the tournament have given us images and memories that transcend sports altogether.

Here are the top-10 all-time moments from the first round of the March Madness:

10. Florida finishes with buzzer beater in win over Butler

To get to the final game of the tournament, you have to win the first game. In the 2000 March Madness tournament, Florida survived the final few minutes and scored a game winner to advance past Butler. The Gators would ultimately reach the finals before getting knocked off by Michigan State.

9. Norfolk State upsets No. 2 Missouri on missed last second three-point

In 2012, their only appearance ever in the March Madness tournament, Norfolk State became just the fifth 15-seed ever to win a game, and the first in over 10 years. A last second three by Missouri bounced off the back iron, and the 20-point underdog Spartans celebrated victorious as “bracket busters.”

8. Maryland escapes upset on late basket

As a defending national champion, getting upset in the following year isn’t what teams necessarily dream of. Luckily for Maryland, they scored a late game winner to avoid defeat at the hands of No. 11 UNC Wilmington in 2003.

7. Makai Mason scores 31 as Yale’s first tournament win 

31 points, upsetting a No. 5 seed, and helping your team win it’s very first March Madness game ever? Not a bad first tournament game. Mason led the Bulldogs to their first appearance in 54 years, and while they lost in the 2nd round to Duke, Yale put on quite the show in game one.

6. Murray State wins at the buzzer over No. 4 Vanderbilt

With 12 appearances since 1990, Murray State has a history with March Madness. Yet they snapped a 10-game tournament losing streak in 2010. Danero Thomas knocked down a pull up jumper at the buzzer and the Racers moved on over No. 4 Vanderbilt.

5. Middle Tennessee uses hot 3-point shooting to upset No. 2 Michigan State

Just a year after reaching the Final Four, Michigan State met an untimely end in 2016 when little known Middle Tennessee shot 57 percent from three-point and topped the Spartans, 90-81. The Blue Raiders picked up their first March Madness win since 1989, but would fall in the second round to

4. Princeton defeats UCLA on last second backdoor pass

It’s very difficult to repeat as champions in college basketball… unless you’re UCLA. But just a year after winning their first title in 20 years, the Bruins lost the first game of their title defense to Ivy League champions Princeton. The 1996 March Madness win sent longtime Tigers coach Pete Carill out with a marquee tournament victory.

3. Florida “Dunk” Coast throws down in upset over No. 2 Georgetown

In their first NCAA tournament appearance, No. 15 Florida Gulf Coast slammed their way to a huge upset over the second seeded Hoyas. What’s more, the Eagles rode their first round momentum to another win in the second round, defeating No. 7 San Diego State, to reach the Sweet Sixteen.

2. Northern Iowa take down No. 6 Texas on half court buzzer beater

UNI’s second straight year of reaching the Round of 32 came with a fair bit of excitement. In something out of Steph Curry’s warm up session, senior guard Paul Jesperson launched a half court shot at the buzzer that bounce off the backboard and went in, upsetting No. 6 Texas.

1. Bryce Drew’s “hook and ladder” game winner lifts Valparaiso

Referred to as “The Shot”, this last second buzzer beater to upset No. 4 Ole Miss, goes down as one of the most exciting moments in all of basketball. With just 2.5 seconds remaining, Jamie Sykes threw a three quarters court long pass to Bill Jenkins, who immediately dished it out to Drew on the wing… and the rest is history. The Crusaders would make it to the Sweet Sixteen before losing to Rhode Island.


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