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OPINION: Old March Madness games to fill your quarantine



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University of Virginia guard Ty Jerome reacts after making a 3-point basket against Texas Tech April 8, 2019, during the first half of the NCAA Championship game at U.S. Bank Stadium in Minneapolis. Tribune News Service

Tuesday was supposed to be the last day of a thrilling month of basketball. The Elite Eight should have wrapped up last weekend, and the Final Four would be only days away. Instead, as everyone knows, the coronavirus pandemic has taken the NCAA Tournament and all other sports and replaced it with social distancing. 

So to try to fill the void during a seemingly never-ending quarantine, here are some fun NCAA Tournament games from the last 15 years to rewatch.

Kris Jenkins for the Championship

The 2016 title game is not just the best game of the last 15 years, it may be the best NCAA Tournament game of all time. The entire game is great, but the ending made it legendary. The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill guard Marcus Paige hits an insane, double pump 3-pointer to tie the game and complete a 10-4 Tar Heel run. 

But, with 4.7 seconds left in the game, Villanova University still had a chance, and Kris Jenkins delivered with a 3-pointer at the buzzer. It was the first game winner in a NCAA title game since Keith Smart’s shot with a second left won IU the 1987 championship.

Virginia versus Purdue 2019 Elite Eight

Carsen Edwards. 

What else is there to say? Even as an IU student, it’s impossible to hate Purdue’s Carsen Edwards. The man was a human scoring machine during the 2018-19 season, and excelled in the NCAA Tournament, scoring 139  points in four NCAA Tournament games. Edwards saved his best for top-seeded University of Virginia, hitting 10 of 19 3-point attempts en route to scoring 42 points against the top defense in college basketball.

However, the Cavaliers — who had a trio of wild finishes in their 2019 title run — forced overtime after Ty Jerome missed a free throw with 5.9 seconds left. Teammate Mamadi Diakite tipped the ball deep into the backcourt, where Kihei Clark tracked the ball down. The freshman didn’t panic and launch a half-court heave, but instead calmly passed the ball back some 40 feet to Diakite, who drilled a mid-range jumper at the horn. Virginia went on to win in overtime.

Wisconsin denies perfection

It was the ultimate revenge game. A year prior, the University of Kentucky’s Aaron Harrison hit his third game-winning triple in three games to eliminate Wisconsin from the 2014 Final Four, which was a great game in its own right. In 2015, the Badgers got another crack at the Wildcats. Kentucky entered the Final Four with a perfect 38-0 record and was looking to become the first unbeaten champion in college basketball since IU in 1976. 

But Kentucky’s offense stalled late in the game, and the Wildcats failed to feed star big man Karl-Anthony Towns. That opened the door for Frank Kaminsky, Sam Dekker and the Badgers to close the game on a 15-4 run, which ended Kentucky’s dreams of a perfect season.

The 2005 Elite Eight

Where to even start here? The 2005 quarterfinals provided three crazy games in a two-day span. And really, any of them are a fun watch. Illinois’ comeback against the University of Arizona is considered to be the most famous of the trio. The Illini trailed 77-63 with less than four minutes left but ended the game on a 17-3 run to force overtime. Illinois would win by one in the extra session.

Then there was the shootout between the University of Louisville and West Virginia University. The Mountaineers hit 18 of their 27 3-point attempts in the game and at one point held a 20-point lead in the first half, and still lost in overtime. Taquan Dean hit seven of Louisville’s 11 3-pointers, and Larry O'Bannon scored 24 points after halftime. Both teams shot over 55% from the field in the game. In addition, Gus Johnson is on the call, and goes berserk throughout the broadcast.

And of course, Michigan State and Kentucky wrapped up the weekend with a casual double overtime contest. With Kentucky down three and star guard Rajon Rondo out of the game, the team took three desperation triples to try to force overtime. The third prayer from Patrick Sparks was answered, and after a long review to decide whether or not his foot was on the line, the refs gave him the 3-pointer. But, in the end, Michigan State eventually prevailed 94-88.

Other Classics

2011: Brandon Knight game winner leads Kentucky over Ohio State

2006: George Mason University upsets the University of Connecticut

2013: Dunk City

2010: Gordan Hayward's almost buzzer beater

2008: Mario Chalmers!

2010: Kansas State University versus Xavier University 3OT

2019: Michigan State topples Mt. Zion

2017: Luke Maye buzzer beater

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