clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

College basketball season in review: The 10 best mid-major games from 2017-18

It was a season we’ll never forget.

NCAA Basketball: Atlantic 10 Conference Tournament Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

It’s been quite the season for mid-major teams. We had a Final Four run, a No. 16 seed, and plenty of great games throughout the season. Every year has its share of great games, but we didn’t need to scrape the bottom of the barrel this time.

10. The Citadel 100, Furman 92 (OT)

This one only makes the list because it’s a personal favorite of mine. With The Citadel, you never know what to expect. The Bulldogs aren’t good, but they play at the second-fastest pace in the country and only bomb threes. It’s a fun strategy that usually doesn’t work. Against Furman, one of the best SoCon squads, it wasn’t working. The Citadel found itself down by 17 with 10 minutes left. With two minutes left it was still a 10-point deficit. No problem. Simply by fouling and then rushing down the court and chucking threes, The Citadel came all the way back. Another blitz in the overtime gave the Bulldogs a stunning win.

9. USC 103, UNC Asheville 98 (2OT)

Who says first round NIT games can’t make this list? On paper, UNC Asheville should not have stood a chance on the road against USC. But with USC’s best player, Chimezie Metu, sitting out, UNC Asheville took it to the Trojans. It was a weird one. NIT games were played with quarters and special offensive rebounding shot clock rules. UNC Asheville took a 70-66 lead with a full three minutes left and...stopped scoring. USC could only manage four points, but it was enough to tie it. UNC Asheville blew another lead in the first OT and then finally fell in the second. It was a well-played game all around, and it also featured peak Bill Walton.

8. Grambling 64, Georgia Tech 63

Although Grambling turned out to be a relatively good basketball team, it’s still hard to leave off a SWAC team winning a buy game against an ACC team. Grambling was given absolutely no chance at the start. Ranked 338th in KenPom at the time, the Tigers found themselves behind early, but instead of falling away, clawed to within four at the half. Then, Grambling found itself up by as many as 16 points in the second half as Georgia Tech completely imploded.

The Yellow Jackets stormed back to take a late 63-62 lead. Then the Yellow Jackets gave it all back. Grambling didn’t even have to do much, because Georgia Tech’s Curtis Haywood lost the ball on a rebound with 6.2 seconds remaining and tipped it into his own basket. Georgia Tech missed a final shot and Grambling took the W.

7. Loyola Chicago 63, Tennessee 62

No. 3 seed Tennessee must’ve thought it had dodged a bullet when it drew Loyola in the Second Round. But the Ramblers outplayed Tennessee, showing off the brilliant team basketball and shot-making skills that won their game against Miami. The Volunteers managed to make a late comeback and even took a 62-61 lead, but then Loyola had its second late shot for the ages, this time from Clayton Custer.

6. Loyola Chicago 64, Miami 62

Loyola’s run to the Final Four could not have happened without one shining moment from Donte Ingram. Miami led for most of the second half, but Porter Moser’s squad was hanging in there. Miami’s win probability never dipped below 60 percent after the 15-minute mark, but then, Donte Ingram pulled up from downtown...

5. Wofford 79, UNC 75

This was the night Fletcher Magee immortalized himself in Wofford history. North Carolina, the reigning National Champions, was an enormous favorite at home against a Wofford team projected to finish sixth in the SoCon. But the Tar Heels came out completely flat while Magee, who had already been in “God Mode” heading into the game, was red-hot. He scored 27 points and led Wofford to a stunning upset. Although UNC nearly came back at the end, the Terriers survived to earn the program’s first-ever win over a ranked opponent.

4. Nevada 75, Cincinnati 73

0.4 percent. That’s the win probability Nevada had down 65-43 to Cincinnati eight minutes into the second half of their Second Round matchup. It was over. No one would have blamed you if you turned off the game.

But then Nevada made one of the greatest comebacks in NCAA Tournament history. Nevada went on a 16-0 run to bring it within eight. Then the Wolf Pack held Cincy to two points in the final five minutes, bringing home a stunning 75-73 victory.

3. UC Davis 105, Long Beach State 104 (2OT)

Despite being a random Big West regular season game, this one goes down as one of the best endings of all time.

UC Davis was well on its way to earning the conference regular season title while Long Beach State was desperate for a home win to get its season back on track. It was a back-and-forth game filled with plenty of ties and lead changes, but with the teams trading baskets in the final minute of regulation, the game went to overtime.

One overtime wasn’t enough. Long Beach State’s Gabe Levin singlehandedly kept his team in it, scoring 45 points on the night and breaking a school record. Deep into the second overtime, Long Beach State managed to eke out a small lead before this happened.

2. UMBC 74, Virginia 54

Well, this had to be on the list, right? It may not have been a close game, but that was actually part of the fun. UMBC completely manhandled UVA in the second half, creating one of the most exciting 20-point blowouts you’ll ever see. It loses points for not being a thriller, but it will forever be remembered in NCAA Tournament history.

1. St. Bonaventure 117, Davidson 113 (3OT)

Is this one of the best college basketball games of all time? This is a legitimate question. Forget best game of the year. This is one of the best games of the entire decade. For one night in February, St. Bonaventure and Davidson put on a show for the ages.

There were 75 attempted threes, three exhausting overtimes, and a 45-point night from Peyton Aldridge. There was LaDarien Griffin’s game-tying layup for the Bonnies at the end of regulation, followed by Kellan Grady’s clutch free throws at the end of the first overtime. It took another grueling, tense 10 minutes to decide it. Eventually, the Bonnies overcame Aldridge to win 117-113. Davidson would get its revenge in the A10 Tournament. But years from now, anyone who watched this game will remember it for being one of the most insane basketball games every played.