Prior to the first weekend of the NCAA Division 1 Men's Basketball Tournament, we were buzzing about the games that brought tears of joy to our eyes. We recalled various contests which reminded us about the good, hilarious and amazing that can happen in March.
Yet, the truly awful can exist in the same space, sometimes in the same weekend. If you've been betting on the tourney and looking to take advantage of online betting offers, you should go for it. However, adding any additional stress while watching your tournament favorite lose in front of millions can be an unnecessary burden for some to bear. Or it can be the additional thrill for those to thrive amongst the chaos.
With the Sweet Sixteen and Elite Eight now upon us, we were spilling tears of... well, the opposite of joy. In fact, they were tears of agony, exhaustion, rage and sheer embarrassment. Surely, you've had a few games that brought the same pain, so feel free to share them in the comments or on social media.
Duke/UNLV, 1991 Final Four
Hurley. Laettner. Hill. Johnson. Augmon. Anthony. Krzyzewski. Tarkanian. The 1991 Final Four matchup between Duke and UNLV represented a rematch of "good" vs. "evil" and the future of college basketball. Tarkanian and his boys represented everything "wrong" with college basketball. Allegations of payments under the table were rampant (and this photo didn't help). Coach K and the blue bloods in Durham, NC represented to "right" (aka "White) way to play despite the fact that Hurley and Laettner came from hardscrabble working-class backgrounds. UNLV made an 8-year-old Stephon and his father happy the previous year when they demolished the Blue Devils in the national championship game.
Anderson Hunt's desperation three-pointer clanking off the rim had a 9-year-old Stephon fuming for days. Shoot this game into outer space. - Stephon Johnson
Villanova/Old Dominion, 1995 First Round
This game provided my first lasting memory of watching the NCAA Tournament, and it’s one I’d like to forget.
Third-seeded Villanova was stacked, led by Kerry Kittles, Alvin Williams, and Jason Lawson. 14-seed Old Dominion had some guy named Petey Sessoms, and I watched in horror as he tormented the Wildcats to the tune of 35 points, leading the Monarchs to an 89-81 triple-overtime upset of Villanova. Kittles played all 55 minutes in a valiant effort to stave off the upset, but it wasn’t enough.
While the college hoops world celebrated Cinderella, I was taught an early lesson in the madness of March. - Josh Naso
Louisville/Duke, 2013 Elite Eight
You might not remember Kevin Ware's name, but you'll remember his tibia. It was protruding from his shin in Louisville's Elite 8 matchup against Duke in 2013. (Editor's note: We're not posting a clip of the injury.)
If you saw this game you won't forget it -- the slow-motion footage being replayed, the shocked bench behind Ware.
I blame the court.
Because the game was played at Lucas Oil Stadium (it was less than half full that day), the court was elevated. When Ware landed, he was trying to avoid going off the side of the court and falling into the crowd several feet below him.
The stupidest part of all is that the game no longer exists in Louisville's official records, as the Cardinals had to vacate their records from 2011-2015 following a recruiting scandal. So, in a game that doesn't count in a tournament that now has no official winner, all we have to remember is the most gruesome injury ever televised. Shoot it (and former Louisville coach Rick Pitino while we're at it) into the goddamn sun. - Carden Hedelt
Butler/UConn, 2011 National Championship
I was hesitant to offer a game because the one that came to mind remains one that no decent person deserved to witness. Not even most of our worst enemies. In fact, this contest may be the worst basketball game ever played at any level and recorded by any form of media. I'm talking the worst ever televised, the worst ever written about online or in print, the worst ever broadcast on radio, and the worst ever analyzed by human beings.
Sure, I'm admittedly a pro snob these days, but even in my casual viewing of the contest, I was demanding that the NCAA and both programs be fined by the FCC for indecent exposure.
A year after the once mid-major Butler Bulldogs nearly toppled Duke, they managed to join Connecticut with a historic amount of clanks. Even more staggering: there was not a single dunk. How does that happen? HOW?!?!
Duke/Maryland, 2001 Final Four
Conference foes tangling for the rare fourth time. The Blue Devils and Terrapins together gave college basketball fans three epic battles throughout the 2001 season. This one turned out to be the most memorable due to the huge 22-point lead Maryland developed (in the school’s first Final Four) in the first half. The contest looked all but done until Shane Battier, Jay Williams and Mike Dunleavy caught fire nailing three-pointer after three-pointer to erase the lead.
Coach K’s boys eventually pulled away in the second half for a 95-84 victory. Duke sealed the season series three games to one, leaving Maryland to ponder their blown chance. - James Simpson
Pittsburgh/Villanova, 2009 Regional Final
One of the things about embracing college is that inevitable bond between one's alma mater and fandom. Having gone to the University of Pittsburgh, I have tethered my collegiate support to its basketball teams. This has led to quite a few heartbreak moments heartbreak moments when I knew the men's team was good enough to get to the Final Four. For example, there's the 2009 team that tripped up in the Elite Eight against Villanova. Three words sum it up the agony...
Scottie (bleep)ing Reynolds. - Johnathan Tillman
UCLA/Gonzaga, 2006 Sweet Sixteen
Some consider the story I'm about to tell one of triumph, but as a WCC alum (kind of), our battle to be taken seriously usually starts and ends with beating our fellow Pac-12 teams.
In 2006, three-seed Gonzaga faced off against the two-seed, UCLA. This is arguably one of the most memorable games in Bulldogs history, for all the wrong reasons. The Zags blew a 17-point lead and lose to UCLA on a go-ahead bucket from Luc Richard Mbah a Moute. UCLA scored the last 11 points in the game. Gonzaga's ace, Adam Morrison finished with 28 points before famously melting down at mid-court - the tears felt around the world.
The 73-71 victory moved UCLA on to the Elite Eight where the Bruins defeated Memphis and then LSU in the Final Four before falling to Florida in the national championship game. But that Gonzaga-UCLA game was the birthplace of memes, in my opinion. It will always be the best, worst game I've ever watching in person.
“I guess it is what it is,” Morrison said to The Spokesman Review. “I’ll live in infamy, but it’s not like I’m the first guy on the court to show emotion and I won’t be the last.” - Emily Van Buskirk
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