The NCAA Basketball Buzzer Beater That Rules Them All

Bryce Drew had a different look on his face back in 1998, as a player for the team he now coaches.

You won't find any video of my favorite sports memories from college on YouTube.

The thought of anyone carrying a video camera into the Drexel Athletic Center in the mid-90s to film the Dragons is just silly.

Video cameras were still something you carried on your shoulder for the most part, and most of them still took the large VHS tapes. So you won't find highlights of Malik Rose and Drexel, as you would for most of the star athletes today.

The best I can give you are the few highlights from his draft day, but that doesn't help to fill the memories in my head (especially in slow motion).

Over the years, those highlights of Rose are some of the things I will always remember about my college experience. He was too big and too good for the North Atlantic Conference, now the America East. Rose was then a solid post player off the bench for a couple of San Antonio Spurs championships. You aren't going to see that kind of player come out of that conference again for a long time (or ever, with the way realignment is moving).

While I cherish those memories, I wouldn't call them my favorite college basketball highlights of all time. Rose wasn't going to hit a last-second buzzer beater from 40 feet to win anything. Better basketball glory came alongside and after college, from teams that I had no reason to root for or against, other than because I had some name penciled in on my NCAA bracket.

The one I see the most, only because it is played so often in March, came after the Hampton upset of Iowa State in the 2001 NCAA Tournament. With the Pirate players running around the court, David Johnson caught up to his rather stout coach Steve Merfield and lifted him into the air. Merfield kicked his legs and arms with a giant smile on his face - this was a team that beat a prohibitive favorite in the Cyclones. Iowa State was expected to go a long way that year. Instead, they took a long flight home rather early.

I watched that win from the couch in a hotel room in Philadelphia, and the joy displayed on Merfield's face was reminiscent of the same feeling I remembered from watching Rose and the Dragons take out Memphis in the first round of the NCAA Tournament, a few miles from the spot I sat that day. It wasn't a 2-15 game, but it was still an unlikely event (more on the '96 tournament to come). Sadly, there are no good videos of the Hampton celebration online, but you can be sure that it will be played again and again come March.

There are other memories that will stick with me from the NCAA Tournament.

There was George Mason's run to the Final Four, something that seemed possible but so unlikely given the road it would have to take to get there. Surely one of those top teams -- the MRI had three of the Patriot opponents rated higher, and Mason was No. 16 in the computer -- would stop it.

It didn't happen until the Final Four.

Or even further back, there was Pete Carril and Princeton totally stopping UCLA in the first round. This was a UCLA team that was expected to be back in the Final Four, not home after one game. The Princeton offense had them flustered, and the Tiger defense somehow held the speedy Bruins to 41 points.

Of course, there was also Carril jumping around like some sort of mad grandfather on the sidelines.

If I had to pick one moment to define them all, it starts and ends with Bryce Drew. In 1998, Drew hit a leaning 3-pointer at the buzzer to give Valparaiso the win over Mississippi. Everything had to work perfectly for it to happen. The throw, the catch, and the hand-off had to be timed exactly or the Crusaders never get the shot off.

That is the moment that sticks out most when I think of my favorite highlight from college basketball. Even the flop and pile on the floor is burned into my memory.

So time to sound off. What is your top NCAA basketball highlight, and where do my memories measure up on your list of favorite moments?

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