NCAA Tournament: Some championship moments never die - Tri-State News, Weather & Sports

NCAA Tournament: Some championship moments never die

For coaches like Jim Calhoun, winning is a dream. But there is no losing for the fans fortunate enough to watch the games. (Source: UConn ball/MGN Online) For coaches like Jim Calhoun, winning is a dream. But there is no losing for the fans fortunate enough to watch the games. (Source: UConn ball/MGN Online)

(RNN) – It takes some people most of their lives to achieve something noteworthy, but college basketball players can do it during a 40-minute span by the time they reach 22.

An entire month – or career – can come down to single moments, and the memories last for decades.

That's why people who weren't even born while those moments happened can vividly recall every second like they were sitting courtside.

In no particular order, some of the greatest championship games in the history of the NCAA tournament are relived.

NC State 54, Houston 52 – 1983

There were so many great things about this game, the commercial highlights showing that last-second lob do it injustice.

With 4 minutes left in the game, CBS flashed this graphic: Frontline scoring in the second half – NC State 0, Houston 15. Lorenzo Charles - who stuffed in Dereck Whittenberg's last-second heave - picked a fine time to end the Wolfpack's slump in the paint.

The three previous shots NC State made were well into 3-point range – except the NCAA didn't officially adopt the 3-point shot until 1987, so they held the last possession tied at 52 instead of ahead by 3.

The Cougars had two chances to pick off bad passes before the ball got into Whittenberg's hands, and in any other game they would have.

The Wolfpack somehow beat a team with Akeem Olajuwon and Clyde Drexler.

Olajuwon and Drexler finally got their title together – 12 years later with the Houston Rockets, playing down the street from their alma mater.

You can't make this stuff up.

Georgetown 84, Houston 75 - 1984

Not to pick on Houston, but if you believe in the opportunities for redemption that sports offer, this is a game you have to love.

Georgetown lost to North Carolina two years earlier. Everyone remembers Michael Jordan's game-winning shot in that 1982 title game, but not many people remember what happened next.

The Hoyas took over with 14 seconds left – the basketball equivalent of eternity. Fred Brown didn't have a soul standing around him and for some reason threw the ball right into the hands of UNC's James Worthy. Game over.

Two years later, Brown was the first person Georgetown coach John Thompson hugged and the first person to hoist the winner's trophy. Thompson also became the first black head coach to win an NCAA men's basketball championship.

Louisville 72, Duke 69 - 1986

Everybody remembers Duke's first championship (1991), but does anyone remember its first Final Four appearance? Things turned out better for Louisville that night.

Milt Wagner stroked a pair of clinching free throws like no one else was in the building, and freshman forward Pervis Ellison bullied the more heralded Jay Bilas and Mark Alarie.

Loyola 60, Cincinnati 58 – 1963

If the NCAA Tournament means anything at all to you, this is a game you should tell your kids and grandkids about.

The first nationally televised final in tournament history showed the racially divided country Loyola's starting lineup featuring four black players. That broke the unwritten rule of putting no more than three black players on the floor at one time. It also preceded the more well-known Texas Western team that inspired the movie Glory Road.

Beyond the social statement, it was just plain good basketball. The Ramblers' starting five never left the floor.

Loyola only made it to one tournament final, but that's OK. They did enough that one game to last a lifetime.

Indiana 86, Michigan 68 – 1976

It's difficult to finish on top, and it's even harder to beat every team on the way there.

Indiana was the last team to do that, going 32-0 and winning it all in 1976 under Bob Knight.

Knight told his team before the season their goal was not to win the conference or the NCAA Tournament. Their goal was to go undefeated.

If only everything could be that simple.

Duke 61, Butler 59 – 2010

Game of inches? You can say that again. If he had just rolled his fingers a hair differently, Gordon Hayward might have supplanted Christian Laettner as the player with the greatest shot in tournament history.

But that missed shot didn't make the game any less great, probably one of the greatest in history.

UCLA 92, Kentucky 85 - 1975

"The Wizard of Westwood," John Wooden, went out the way all champions wish. He won his 10th and final championship, ending the greatest run in college basketball history.

You know you've done something great when your accomplishments aren't even up for argument.

Villanova 66, Georgetown 64 – 1985

This was Georgetown's game. They had gone to the title game three of the last four years, and this guy named Patrick Ewing was playing center. Done deal, right?

Not so much. The Wildcats were nearly perfect shooting in the last two minutes, and they overcame a mountain of talent – with a little help from their opponents' poor execution in the last two minutes.

You could argue that Georgetown gave this game away, or you could argue Villanova deserved it more.

But no one can argue it should always have a spot as one of the greatest title games in history.

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