Remember the NCAA Vault — that archive the NCAA set up a few years ago with a bunch of old NCAA Tournament games? Well, the site hasn’t been updated since after the 2011 season, but some classics are worth revisiting.
By classics, of course, we mean mid-major upset wins.
Here’s what we recommend you spend your weekend watching:
Reggie Lewis shot 15-17 from the field and scored 31 points for Northeastern, but the Rams countered with a balanced attack, including five players scoring in double digits. Ultimately, it came down to the final play, when VCU inbounded with two seconds left. Rolando Lamb caught the pass near the left elbow, turned around and scored to win the game.
(Ironically, 27 years later, Lamb’s son Jeremy helped lead former Northeastern head coach Jim Calhoun’s UConn team to a national championship. Glen Miller, who started this game for Northeastern, was by Calhoun’s side as an assistant.)
One of the most forgotten great finishes in NCAA Tournament history. With South Alabama down two and 10 seconds to go, Junie Lewis caught a tough inbounds pass and found himself in the corner with two Crimson Tide players on him. Somehow, he was able to find Jeff Hodge, who hit a deep three to put South Alabama ahead. Alabama got a good look at a final shot, but fell short, setting off the celebration.
You’ll rarely find a 34-point blowout on one of these lists, but if you like watching high-powered offenses, this one is a must-see. Loyola Marymount, still reeling from the surprising death of forward Hank Gathers during the WCC Tournament, dismantled the defending national champions with their patented run-and-gun system. Some fun stats from that game:
- Loyola Marymount had four players score 20 or more points
- The Lions attempted 89 shots and the Wolverines took 85
- Jeff Fryer was 11-15 from three and the Lions, as a team, were 21-40 from beyond the arc.
Steve Nash only scored 10 points in this one, but six of those came from the line in the final 30 seconds to lift the Broncos to only the second 15-over-2 upset in tournament history at the time. Defensively, Santa Clara held Arizona’s Damon Stoudamire to just six points and he did not hit a field goal the entire game.
The Crusaders treated us to one of the most iconic moments in NCAA Tournament history. The Rebels led by two with 2.5 seconds left, and Valparaiso had to go the length of the floor to try and win it. This play came to be known in Indiana basketball lore as "The Shot," though at the time, the team called the play "Pacer." It involved a three-quarter-court inbounds pass, which Bill Jenkins tapped to Bryce Drew, who drained a 23-foot three to win the game. Drew later coached five seasons at Valparaiso, leading the Crusaders to four Horizon League regular season championships and two NCAA Tournaments. It’s widely assumed he hasn’t had to pay for a drink in the Hoosier State in quite some time.
Before there was Farokmanesh, there was Arceneaux. Harold "The Show" Arceneaux dropped 36 points on the Tar Heels to lead the 14-seeded Wildcats to victory. Weber State led most of the game and had a 10-point advantage with 3:59 left. North Carolina fought back to make it close, but Arceneaux intercepted the Tar Heels’ home run pass with a second to go, preventing them from taking a potential game-tying or winning shot.
After Weber State lost to Florida in the Second Round, the Gators fell victim to the upset bug themselves in the Sweet 16. This was the tournament that put Gonzaga on the map, and this was their most thrilling win of its Elite Eight run. Casey Calvary tipped in the game winner in the closing seconds, giving the world, perhaps, Gus Johnson’s greatest moment as a broadcaster.
This was the year Cinderella finally reached the Final Four. UConn came into the game as a No. 1 seed, and possibly the best team in the country, while the Patriots were a team many thought shouldn’t have been in the NCAA Tournament to begin with. UConn came back from down four with 17 seconds left to force overtime, but could not get a stop in the extra session when it needed to. Jai Lewis scored 20 points for George Mason as all five Patriots starters scored in double figures.
Davidson scored 82 points and half of them came from one player. We don’t need to tell you who it is. Steph Curry’s numbers in this game: 40 points, 14-22 shooting and 8-10 from three. One of those threes came with 1:04 to play, breaking a 74-74 tie. The Wildcats later went on to beat Georgetown and Wisconsin before falling to Kansas by one in the Elite Eight.
Two days after Ali Farokhmanesh led Northern Iowa to a win over UNLV with a three in the final seconds, he made one of the most "onions-iest" shots you’ll ever see to put the Panthers in the Sweet 16. With Northern Iowa leading by one, Farokhmanesh found himself with the ball and the only Panther on his side of half court with 36 seconds left. But as his teammates raced into the frontcourt to help him, Farokhmanesh fired away. While fans around the country started screaming "no, no, no," the shot fell to put Northern Iowa up four.