The 4 Greatest March Madness Moments in Recent Memory
The hectic pace of March Madness produces some truly memorable moments. The tournament features dozens of games over a short period of time. The sheer concentration of matches ensures a handful of noteworthy moments each year.
Furthermore, March Madness is one of the very few tournaments where winning isn’t everything. Some of the most well-remembered teams only won one game. Of course, every underdog story begins with a pivotal moment, where a lackluster season turns into a legend.
Each of these four teams turned March Madness upside down with unbelievable runs they probably didn’t even expect. With all that being said, Nitrogen Sports Blog brings you a short lost of the four best March Madness moments in recent memory
UMBC Retrievers (2018)
Fresh in everyone’s mind, the UMBC Retrievers’ first-round win over the Virginia Cavaliers in 2018 made March Madness history.
For the first time, a 16th-seeded team overcame a top-seed team. While 2018 may have other memorable moments, the year will always be synonymous with UMBC. The game remained close throughout the first half, with both teams jockeying for the lead.
The momentum-changing moment occurred midway through the game. Graduate student Jairus Lyles made a near effortless 3-point shot. While that was not Lyles’ first made basket of the contest, it expanded the Retrievers’ lead to 14 points. Virginia never got the lead back and UMBC completed the improbable win, 74-54.
It was one of biggest upsets in March Madness history, and a feat that’s unlikely to be matched anytime soon.
The Cavaliers would make a complete turnaround a year later, redeeming themselves by winning the national tournament in 2019. Nevertheless, their disastrous and short-lived run in the 2018 March Madness.
FGCU Eagles (2013)
A 15th seed win over a No. 2 seed isn’t unprecedented. Yet, that in no way diminishes FGCU Eagles’ unexpected win over the Georgetown Hoyas in 2013.
It was surprising enough that they even found their way into the national tournament, considering that it was only their second season as a Division I program. After rising to the top of the Atlantic Sun Conference, they faced Georgetown in the first round.
While the Eagles performed well, one moment crystallized their forthcoming victory.
In a well-played maneuver, Brett Comer tossed the ball to forward Chase Fieler for an alley-oop throwdown. Fieler’s dunk electrified the crowd, building an energy that carried FGCU through to a 78-68 win.
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Virginia Commonwealth University (2011)
The year 2011 saw the introduction of a ‘First Four’, which features a series of games that serve as a prelude to the full tournament.
It also saw an unexpected 11th seed team advance from the new First Four straight through to the Final Four. The VCU Rams’ stellar run began with many believing they did not even deserve a spot in the tournament.
Despite a lackluster record, the Selection Committee felt that their performance merited an invitation.
And it wasn’t a game-changing moment that secured their momentum. Rather, it was their win against Georgetown that removed all doubt. After beating the Hoyas, VCU turned up the heat even more and took down the Purdue Boilermakers in the third round, then proceeded to shock the Florida State Seminoles in the Sweet 16 round.
That was followed by a mind-bending victory over No. 1 seed Kansas Jayhawks in the Elite 8 round. The Rams were stopped by the Butler Bulldogs in the Final Four, but their deep run in 2011 will always be remembered.
To this day, VCU remains as the only team in Division I basketball history to have five wins and not advance to the national title game.
George Mason University (2006)
The 2005-06 George Mason Patriots were another controversial entry into March Madness. No one expected George Mason to last past the first round of the tournament.
In their first at-large bid entry, George Mason hit the deck running. Plowing through the Final Four, they fell to a powerhouse Florida Gators squad. The signature game of that George Mason run, however, came prior to the loss to the Gators, when the Patriots embarrassed the No. 1 seed UConn Huskies in an overtime win in the Elite 8 round.
That run began with the confidence built against the Michigan State Spartans. The Spartans were a veteran of 2004-05 Final Four.
Nonetheless, they fell to George Mason’s aggressive style. Truly a team effort, George Mason fielded five players that scored in the double digits throughout the tournament.
Expect the unexpected in college basketball this month. March Madness guides can help you understand how the tournament works, but it can’t tell you what exactly will happen on the game. Instead, you can count on the list of best March Madness moments to grow longer after this year’s edition of the Big Dance.