Top 10 Greatest March Madness Games of All-Time

Over the years, the NCAA Tournament has had some incredible moments.  While some fade away over time, there are dozens that have become legendary over the years.  With the 68-team college basketball tournament set to begin this week, we decided to choose the 10 games that stuck out to us the most – whether it was because of their significance or because of a moment that defined it.


Honorable Mention: Lehigh Earns First Tournament Win

The prototypical David versus Goliath matchup, the 2012 first round meeting between Duke and Lehigh University was expected to be just another cake walk for powerhouse Duke. 

The No. 15 seeded central Pennsylvania school had never won a tournament game and was a heavy underdog entering the tournament but just continued to hang with the Blue Devils.  In the end, the Mountainhawks pulled away and left Duke in shock.  It was only the second time in the last 16 years that Duke lost in the first round.  Sure, in terms of history it just happened last year, but it was an instant classic, too good to keep off the list.

It was 1993 and No. 1 Michigan was squaring off against No. 1 North Carolina in the title game.  It was back and forth for most of the contest and with 11 seconds to go, the Wolverines had the ball, trailing 72-71 – but that’s when it went terribly wrong. 

As Wolverines forward Chris Webber drove down the court, he was double teamed by the Tar Heels and pulled off what was perhaps the biggest bonehead play ever.  Webber tried to take a timeout but there was only one problem – the Wolverines had none remaining.  They were called for a technical foul and went on to lose a game many believe they would have come out victorious in the final seconds.  Controversies then ensued about whether or not Webber was bribed – we hope, as no one is that stupid, right?


If you didn’t know who Virginia Commonwealth University was before the 2011 tournament, you certainly knew who they were afterwards.  The school had been in the tournament before but had never made a splash like this Final Four run.  

Although the Rams’ Elite Eight matchup against Kansas wasn’t a thriller, it was a game that no one thought the No. 11 seeded VCU stood a chance of winning against the top-ranked Jayhawks.  Led by forward Jamie Skeen who had 26 points, VCU was unstoppable, taking a 41-27 lead into the locker room at halftime and then cruising to a 71-61 final in perhaps the biggest upset in the last decade.  Many a bracket was destroyed that day, my friend.

Not much in basketball is more impressive than a buzzer beater to earn a victory – but in 1981, Arkansas’ U.S. Reed took it one step further. 

With the No. 5 seeded Razorbacks trailing Louisville 73-72 – thanks to an impressive put-back by the Cardinals on their final possession – and just five seconds left to play, Arkansas inbounded the ball to Reed who fired a 49-foot prayer that miraculously went in.  It has become one of the tournament’s classic shots, one that took the No. 4 Cardinals a while to get over.

Ivy League schools often have a tough time competing with the juggernauts, but in 1996 the Princeton Tigers proved that all it takes is a berth in the tournament to have a shot. 

It was during this year that the Tigers pulled off one of the biggest upsets March Madness has ever seen when they took down defending champion – and No. 4 seeded – UCLA, 43-41, to earn a rare tournament victory. 

The Tigers, led by Sydney Johnson, scored in the final seconds on a backdoor Gabe Lewullis basket to earn the upset victory.  The fun didn’t last long for Princeton as they were ousted in the following round but it was still something to savor – and it hasn’t been forgotten, especially in the central New Jersey area.

North Carolina has been a power house in college basketball since the early 1990s, though this list might have you believe they always came up just short – that’s not the case, having won three times since 1993. 

The Tar Heels can be an intimidating opponent and in 2006 the No. 3 seeded North Carolina expected to run the table on No. 11 George Mason; but the small Virginia school had other ideas. 

It was a second round matchup that left bracketologists pulling their hair out after the Patriots’ upset against Michigan State in the prior round. In the end the Cinderella story was too much for the Tar Heels as well. George Mason won 65-60 in yet another huge tournament upset.  It sparked George Mason to a run to the Final Four that ended in a loss to Florida — one of the all-time unlikeliest Final Four appearances in history.