With the “Madness” of the 2019 NCAA Division I Men’s Basketball Tournament underway, the e-offices at TSFJ decided to take a walk down memory lane as some of its writers shared which memorable games they would re-watch, if given the chance.
Many of these games did not involve a so-called Cinderella team or a squad stacked with future collegiate or professional Hall of Famers. No, these were games where someone shocked the system or completely changed our points of view about the teams we were watching. Interestingly enough, several of these recalls involved the Kansas Jayhawks, a program that has caused more brackets to self-destruct than just about any other.
All, for better or worse, entertained us to high heaven. While these are a few, we’d love to see which games enthralled you over the years, so feel free to let us know in the comments and on the socials.
Michigan/Kansas, 2013 Sweet Sixteen
Kansas guard Elijah Johnson suckerpunched Michigan’s Trey Burke early in the game and the National Player of the Year went scoreless in the first half. Jeff Withey was giving Mitch McGary the blues and at one point in the second half, Michigan was down 14.
At the end of the second half, Burke stunned the Jayhawks.
Over the last four minutes of the game, he orchestrated a feverish comeback that ended with him pulling up from New Mexico over Johnson to force overtime. Kansas was deflated after. It was the ultimate “No, no, no, what are you… YES! YES! YES!” shot. I would pay a premium to feel that feeling wash over me one more time. – Martin Weiss
Kansas/Memphis, 2008 National Championship
The end of the 20 year drought in San Antonio, TX. A night that showed us the greatness that was pre-injury Derrick Rose be thwarted by Mario Chalmers.
Memphis had its chances to put away the game at the free throw line and failed. Coach John Calipari, seeking Memphis’ first ever national title, downplayed the importance of free throw shooting with star power like Rose and Chris Douglas-Roberts. On this night, the Tigers shot 63% as a team versus the Jayhawks’ 93% from the line. Chalmers hit possibly the biggest shot in Kansas history nailing a 3 with 2.1 seconds left in regulation to tie the game. Once the game went to OT, the Jayhawks pummeled Memphis inside behind Darrell Arthur and Brandon Rush.
I watched this game on the ASU student lawn on a projector with maybe 300 other students. The ups and downs from this game were amazing, and the awe factor of Rose couldn’t overcome a balanced team. I’ll never forget this game. – Cedric Welton
Stanford/Kansas, 2014 Round of 32
My absolute favorite NCAA tournament game was in 2014 when Stanford upset the No. 2 seeded Jayhawks. It was a win-win game for me, being a fan of both programs. It was also my very first time covering the NCAA. The 60-57 victory that propelled the Cardinal to the Sweet Sixteen was extra savory after Andrew Wiggins and Wayne Seldon Jr. joked about not knowing who Stanford guard Chasson Randle was in a press conference the day before. Ultimately the joke was on them.
As I sat courtside and watched the Cardinal hold the freshman Wiggins to just four points in his final college game, I thought there might be hope for the Johnny Dawkins-era. I was wrong, of course, but that’s another story. – Emily Van Buskirk
Ohio State/Michigan, 1992 Elite Eight
To me, college basketball didn’t get any better than in the early 1990s. Having said that, if I had to choose which NCAA Tournament game to re-watch live, it would be Ohio State vs. Michigan for the right to go to the Final Four.
Ohio State came into the game having won the last two Big Ten Championships. They were a team filled with upper classmen (including future NBAers Jimmy Jackson, Lawrence Funderburke and Chris Jent) with lots of experience. On the other side: one of the coolest, most ballerific college basketball teams of all time that just happened to have an all-freshmen lineup. You know who they are, but I’ll name them anyway: Chris Webber, Jalen Rose, Jimmy King, Juwan Howard and Ray Jackson.
Juwan doing the cabbage patch as the overtime buzzer sounded will forever be etched into my memory. – Stephon Johnson
Duke/Mercer, 2014 First Round (the real first round, not the play-in games)
When you haven’t really cared about college athletics in nearly a decade, it’s hard to pinpoint a single game you’d like to go back and watch because all you’ve really seen are the highlights. Zion Williamson has only played in one tourney game, so the only real highlight that keeps popping into my head was that disgusting step back Kemba Walker hit at the buzzer over a team that I can’t remember (wait — was that the big East Tournament?). Anyway, the answer is I don’t have one game I’d like to go back and watch because college basketball is frustrating and when the kids miss, the bricks sound way louder than they do in the NBA and I can’t concentrate on anything other than my desire to hear the next booming clank. I do, however, want to go back in time to be courtside when that random kid from Mercer started hitting the Nae-Nae after beating Duke.
My favorite part of the video? I had to google “kid dancing after NCAA upset” because I couldn’t remember what game it was and that the description doesn’t name the kid. It’s just “Mercer Player” — and that’s so fitting for my relationship with this tournament. – Phillip Barnett
Northern Iowa/Kansas, 2010 Round of 32
Two words: Ali Farokhmanseh.
I was a bull-headed high school baller at the time, so I loved this moment on many levels. Now, I’m a bull-headed adult, so it’s resonated with me even more.
Northern Iowa is *up* one, easily breaks the Kansas full-court press, and Farokhmanseh receives a pass, while wide open. 37 seconds remain, 31 on the shot clock. No, he wasn’t a coward. He wasn’t going to turn back and try to draw a foul. Sure, the coach would’ve said that’s the smart play, but this ballsy 6-footer instead eyeballs the rim with the same intensity those two girls stared down Ray Allen before engaging in that infamous threesome in He Got Game. Also, like Allen — in the movie and in real-life — my man Farokhmanseh drilled the hell out of that three, putting Northern Iowa up 4. This helped seal the upset.
It teaches you that if you’ve prepared, if you’ve put in the work, it’s okay to bet on yourself. Especially when going against the big corporations, or in this instance, the big program. Underdogs forever. – Bryan Fonseca
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