NB: This post is from 2021. Check out the 2023 version here.
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Nothing in sports hurts more than a loss at the death. Where the clock shows no mercy.
It's a gut-wrencher that can leave you breathless. A heart-breaker that may never heal.
Ahead of the NCAA tournament tipping off, the Cloudbet Blog takes a look at some of the best - or worst - buzzer-beaters from the competition over the years.
These don't appear in any real order - although we open and close with shots that won titles - because to lose the whole damn thing to a last-gasp clutch... Well that's just gotta hurt the most.
Some, like the first, are historically significant; others are just straight-up, nothing to lose moments of hope; and yet others show total clutch composure and steely focus in the moment that counts.
What they all embody is a sporting ethos , a never-give-up, do-or-die spirit. A spirit in sport that we at Cloudbet recognise, respect and admire.
And in that vein, we're offering to ease that pain for our players in one of our NCAA promotions - proving yet again that Cloudbet is your best bitcoin sportsbook for March Madness.
But first, to the action...
The Buzzer beaters
Let's start with an old-school classic. It's in the history books for a solid reason and it's clear why.
Lorenzo Charles, N.C. State, 1983
This won the No.6 seed N.C State Wolfpack the title, over a University of Houston Cougars team dubbed the "best team to never win it all".
Comprised of the "Phi Slama Jamas", which included Clyde Drexler and Hakeem Olajuwon, Houston made it to the Final Four and beyond each year from 1982 to 1984. In 1981-82, a young Cougar team lost to the eventual champs, North Carolina in the national semifinals.
In the 1982-83 season, surely they would go one further and make it to the championship game, right? Right. With a No.1 Associated Press ranking, a 31-2 record and a 26-game winning streak they were favoured going into the NCAA final.
This last-second dunk by Wolfpack forward Lorenzo Charles put paid to those dreams - and the Wolfpack celebrated one of the biggest upsets in the game.
Danero Thomas, Murray St., 2010
An opening round shocker with underdog No.13 seed Murray State rolling No.4 Vanderbilt in 2010. Jump to the 2.00 mark for the start of the final play.
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Christian Laettner, Duke, 1992
Personal feelings for the Blue Devils aside, this shot commands its due respect for being such a clutch play, by a great team.
This is "The Shot" made by one of the widely regarded best college ball players of all time - the star who led that Duke team's success through that era. Which included back-to-back NCAA national titles in 1991 and 1992.
Going for the repeat - the first school to do it since UCLA in 1973 - Laettner dropped this one in against Kentucky to book Duke a place in the Final Four. It's been much talked about ever since. It's also worth noting that the flung pass from the baseline comes from future NBA Hall of Famer Grant Hill.
The Blue Devils went on to beat the Michigan Wolverines in the championship game.
Incidentally, Laettner had form - two years earlier he did this to UConn in the 1990 tourney.
And speaking of UConn...
Rip (Richard) Hamilton, UConn, 1998
Talk about never giving up. And third time lucky for UConn, putting out Washington for a spot in the Elite Eight in 1998.
First of all, what a reach to grab the rebound from his first shot. And then If ever there was a fade-away jumper to remember... on the buzzer. You cant watch this clip and not feel for the truly shell-shocked Huskies.
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Paul Jesperson, Northern Iowa, 2016
In terms of sheer audacity, this was one of those half-court, wing and a prayers. But it dropped, and the No.11 seed upset No.6 seed Texas in the first round of the 2016 tournament.
In the greater scheme of things it meant little - a first round upset, but Northern Iowa failed to capitalise on it and move further through the field.
Though they almost did... Before imploding in the final minute of their second round match against No.3 seed Texas A&M.
And finally... Kris Jenkins, Villanova, 2016
Before the buzzer-beater itself, you need to see Marcus Paige nail a three-pointer for No.1 seed North Carolina that in it's own right ought to be remembered in NCAA history. And would have if not for what followed...
Unbelievable scenes in the dying minutes of the game - jump to the 1.30 mark for the start of the Carolina play that lead to Paige's score - which tied things up at 74, with 4.7 seconds on the clock.
Keep an eye out for MJ - UNC's #23.
Jenkins launches his shot with 1 second on the clock... and the buzzer goes before the swish.
Jubilation for Villanova. Heartbreak for North Carolina.
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