Most basketball fans would agree, beyond the upsets, dunks and other exhilarating moments throughout March Madness, nothing quite takes the cake like a good ol’ fashioned buzzer beater.
While seeing the game end on the final shot seems to add a little extra excitement, not all buzzer beaters are created equal.
Some hold weight due to an unexpected outcome or player coming out on top. Other, the shock value that comes with being a fan carries a spectrum of emotion from pure elation to heartbreak. And some simply leave us with a tingling sensation and a single perplexing question: What just happened?
Through the years, the NCAA tournament has seen a wide variety of late game-winners take place, each with their own personal flair and appeal.
Here are the top-10 buzzer beaters from March Madness.
10. Chris Chiozza, Florida over Wisconsin
Chris Chiozza delivered 2017 its first buzzer beater. While the floater shot wasn’t the most amazing three you’ll ever see, it’s ironic considering Badger’s guard Zak Showalter hit an almost identical shot at the end of regulation to keep Wisconsin in it.
Chiozza’s three lifted Florida over Wisconsin to the Elite Eight for the first time since 2014.
9. Paul Jesperson – Northern Iowa over Texas
Buzzer beaters are cool and all… but a half court buzzer beater to pull off an upset in the first round of the tournament? Where do we sign up!?
Paul Jesperson pulled off the unbelievable feat in 2016 against 6-seeded Texas, giving UNI their second-straight March Madness opening round win.
8. Tyus Edney – UCLA over Missouri
While Tyus Edney never went on to establish as memorable a career in the NBA as he did at UCLA, he’ll always have ’95.
Edney’s coast to coast buzzer beater to gave the Bruins a win over Missouri in the second round of the tournament. That win sparked a run that would ultimately end with a title as UCLA won their first NCAA championship in 20 years.
7. Ty Rodgers – Western Kentucky over Drake
There’s just something about a three pointer for the win.
In the dreaded 5 vs. 12 matchup, underdog Western Kentucky defeated Drake on a last second three by Ty Rodgers. The buzzer beater would eventually help the Hilltoppers reach their first Sweet Sixteen in 15 years.
6. Drew Nicholas – Maryland over UNC Wilmington
Watching Drew Nicholas sink the game winner was both an exhilarating yet terrifying moment for Maryland fans in 2003.
The Terrapins were coming off the 2002 NCAA title and Drew’s circus shot, buzzer beater saved the reigning champs from an upset loss to No. 11 UNC Wilmington.
5. Tate George – UConn over Clemson
One second remaining? Down one? Full court to go? Challenge accepted.
Tate George’s catch and shoot to deliver top seed UConn over Clemson in the Sweet Sixteen is the perfect embodiment of how crazy buzzer beaters can get. While the Huskies fell in the Elite Eight to Duke, George’s shot still lives in infamy, more so than any other moment from the 1990 tournament.
4. James Forrest – Georgia Tech over USC
Not to be outdone by George, two years later, James Forrest knocked down a three to upset USC in the second round of the 1992 tournament with just .8 seconds on the clock.
The desperation heave by Forrest caught nothing but net, and Georgia Tech danced on to their 4th Sweet Sixteen appearance in 10 years.
3. Bryce Drew – Valparaiso over Mississippi
Don’t let the “hook and ladder” before the shot fool you. That was Valparaiso’s basketball team.
In one of the biggest moments in school history, Bryce Drew, son of head coach Homer Drew, scored after a long full court pass with just 2 seconds left to lift No. 13 seed Valpo over No. 4 Ole Miss in the 1998 first round.
2. Christian Laettner – Duke over Kentucky
It’s hard to put this as number two, so we can call it 1-B instead.
After a three quarters court lob by Grant Hill, Christian Laettner’s spun and hit an incredible fade jumper to give Duke a 104-103 win in the Elite Eight over Kentucky. Dubbed “the Shot”, Laettner’s game winner ultimately paved the way to a championship for Duke, as the Blue Devils would go on to top Indiana and Michigan to win the title.
1. Lorenzo Charles – NC State over Houston
Arguably one of the most incredible upsets of all time, NC State’s alley-oop buzzer beater to beat Houston proved that Cinderella stories sometimes do come true. Dereck Whittenburg launched a shot from almost half court, which was caught short of the basket by Lorenzo Charles and slammed home for the win as the 6-seeded Wolfpack took down the No. 1 seed Cougars to win the 1983 national title.
Watch for buzzer beater… stay for Jim Valvano running around the court like a madman.