The 25 finest Elite Eight moments

The 25 best Elite Eight moments

That one step earlier than reaching the Last 4 can typically be one of many hardest to take. Nevertheless, the Elite Eight has offered some lasting recollections over the many years — for each the winners and losers. Some groups lastly cross that threshold to the nationwide semifinals whereas others fall simply brief. Both method, the strain is amped up and the feelings are excessive. 

With that in thoughts, listed here are our rankings of the highest 25 Elite Eight moments.


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25. Jayhawks take Sunflower Showdown — Huge Dance version (1988)

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Earlier than they grew to become referred to as “Danny and the Miracles” for upsetting favored Oklahoma to win the 1988 nationwide championship, Larry Brown’s Jayhawks took care of rival and No. 4 seed Kansas State within the regional finals. Danny Manning scored 20 factors and Milt Newton almost recorded a triple-double as sixth-seeded Kansas turned a two-point halftime deficit into a convincing 71-58 victory, following a 44-point second half. This stays the one time Kansas and Kansas State have met within the NCAA Match. 


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24. Penn edges St. John’s in matchup of upstarts (1979)

Penn edges St. John's in matchup of upstarts (1979)

Corey Perrine/Getty Pictures

The Penn Quakers have been a perennial Ivy League energy for many years, and in 1979, it loved the most effective season in program historical past whereas reaching the Last 4. The ninth-seeded Quakers, led by star Tony Worth, knocked off No. 1 North Carolina and No. 4 seed Syracuse earlier than going through fellow underdog, tenth seed St. John’s within the regional closing. Because of 21 factors from Worth, Penn edged St. John’s, which was unable to get a closing shot within the waning seconds, 64-62. The Quakers, who misplaced to eventual nationwide champion Michigan State within the Last 4, completed 25-7.


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23. South Carolina punches first ticket to Last 4 (2017)

South Carolina punches first ticket to Final Four (2017)

Brad Penner/USA TODAY Sports activities

All these years watching Carolina neighbors just like the Tar Heels, Wolfpack, and Blue Devils have all of the NCAA Match enjoyable, the Gamecocks thought it was time to get in on the motion. Because the No. 7 seed in 2017, South Carolina upset Duke and Baylor to arrange an Elite Eight date with fourth-seeded Florida. The Gamecocks trailed by seven at halftime, however regrouped behind Sindarius Thornwell’s 26 factors and held the Gators to 3 field-goal makes an attempt over the ultimate 3:55 of the sport to pull out a 77-70 victory and earn the varsity’s first berth within the Last 4.


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22. Butler wants OT to safe second straight Last 4 berth (2011)

Butler needs OT to secure second straight Final Four berth (2011)

Kevin C. Cox/Getty Pictures

Butler’s second straight, however nonetheless seemingly unbelievable, run to the 2011 nationwide championship sport included a win over No. 1 seed Pittsburgh and fourth-seeded Wisconsin earlier than going through No. 2 seed Florida within the regional closing. Although the eighth-seeded Bulldogs wanted time beyond regulation to tug off one other upset, their 9 three-pointers and 41-34 rebounding benefit have been sufficient to beat the Gators 74-71.


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21. Loyola’s Cinderella run continues (2018)

Loyola's Cinderella run continues (2018)

Dale Zanine/USA TODAY Sports activities

Loyola, Chicago, which gained a nationwide title throughout a historic run in 1963, additionally grew to become the fourth No. 11 seed to achieve the Last 4 — tying the document for lowest seed to take action — after it shot 57.4 p.c to take down ninth-seeded Kansas State 78-62 within the 2018 regional closing. After profitable its first three video games of the NCAA Match by a mixed 4 factors, this was the Ramblers’ most decisive triumph of the occasion, and maybe an indication they have been worthy of a spot within the Last 4 all alongside.


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20. Syracuse storms again, stuns No. 1 seed Virginia (2016)

Syracuse storms back, stuns No. 1 seed Virginia (2016)

Justin Tafoya/NCAA Pictures through Getty Pictures

Syracuse’s 2016 run to the Last 4 as a No. 10 seed was highlighted by its 68-62 victory over high seed Virginia within the Elite Eight. Most notably as a result of the Orange needed to combat their method again from a 35-21 halftime deficit and 16-point gap early within the second half. Malachi Richardson scored 21 of his 23 factors within the second half, the place Syracuse used a 15-0 run to show the tides and develop into, on the time, the fourth double-digit seed to achieve the nationwide semifinal spherical.


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19. Kentucky rallies by Irish to stay good (2015)

Kentucky rallies by Irish to remain perfect (2015)

Charles Bertram/TNS/ZUMA Wire/Icon Sportswire

Kentucky was within the midst of an undefeated season when it bumped into the third-seeded Irish within the 2015 regional closing. The Wildcats trailed by six factors with slightly greater than 5 minutes to play within the sport. Nevertheless, they made their closing 9 photographs and Andrew Harrison sank a pair of three throws with six seconds left in regulation to pull out the 68-66 victory and stay undefeated — at the least for another week.


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18. Windfall an excessive amount of for top-seeded Hoyas (1987)

Providence too much for top-seeded Hoyas (1987)

Wealthy Clarkson/NCAA Pictures through Getty Pictures

Coached by Rick Pitino and led by a guard named Billy Donovan, sixth-seeded Windfall rolled to a 103-82 win over No. 2 Alabama within the Candy 16 however confronted powerhouse, No. 1 seed Georgetown, which it misplaced 84-66 to within the Huge East event, within the nationwide closing. However Reggie Williams and the Hoyas proved no match for the Friars, who shot 54.3 p.c and compelled 15 turnovers within the 88-73 victory. Donovan scored 16 of his 20 factors from the free-throw line.


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17. Clock strikes midnight for Curry, Cinderella Davidson (2008)

Clock strikes midnight for Curry, Cinderella Davidson (2008)

Gregory Shamus/Getty Pictures)


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16. Spartans down Zion, Duke (2019)

Spartans down Zion, Duke (2019)

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15. N.C. State slays Sampson — once more (1983)

N.C. State slays Sampson -- again (1983)

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The “Cardiac Pack” could be answerable for probably the most memorable underdog run to a nationwide title in school hoops historical past. Simply to get an invitation to the Huge Dance, Jim Valvano’s North Carolina State squad have to slay the enormous Ralph Sampson and Virginia within the ACC Match closing. With a purpose to attain the Last 4, the sixth-seeded Wolfpack needed to do it once more within the 1983 regional closing. And because of 24 factors from Dereck Whittenburg, late free throws from Lorenzo Charles, and 15 compelled turnovers, N.C. State overcame Sampson’s 23 factors, 11 boards, and the top-seeded Cavaliers’ 63.4-percent taking pictures effort to tug out a 63-62 win.


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14. Kaminsky, Wisconsin outlast Arizona (2014)

Kaminsky, Wisconsin outlast Arizona (2014)

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We adore it when matchups between Nos. 1 and a couple of seeds are entertaining and aggressive. That was the case in 2014, when second-seeded Wisconsin edged No. 1 seed Arizona, 64-63 in time beyond regulation, to punch a ticket to the primary of back-to-back Last 4 journeys. Badgers star Frank Kaminsky scored six of his 28 factors within the further session; and pulled down 11 boards, as his squad outlasted the Wildcats in a contest becoming for individuals who take pleasure in good defensive basketball. 


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13. Calloway retains Hoosiers title hopes alive (1987)

Calloway keeps Hoosiers title hopes alive (1987)

Wealthy Clarkson/NCAA Pictures through Getty Pictures

Indiana’s most up-to-date nationwide title got here in 1987 (thanks, Keith Good). Nevertheless, the NCAA Match street to that championship wasn’t simple. The Hoosiers beat fifth-seeded Duke by six within the Candy 16, then had their collective fingers full with No. 10 seed LSU within the regional closing. Indiana confronted a nine-point gap with 4:38 to play however stepped up defensively to pressure 4 turnovers and maintain the Tigers to 1 field-goal try over the ultimate 4:18. Down one, Ricky Calloway scored the profitable bucket with 6 seconds to play on a put-back of Daryl Thomas’ airball.


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12. Harrison shoots younger Wildcats over Michigan (2014)

Harrison shoots young Wildcats over Michigan (2014)

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Regardless of bringing 10 losses into the 2014 NCAA Match, freshman-laden, No. 8 seed Kentucky obtained sizzling on the proper time and made all of it the way in which to the nationwide championship sport. The Wildcats’ earned their Last 4 berth after a type of freshmen, Aaron Harrison, knocked down a deep three-pointer with 2.3 seconds left in regulation for a 75-72 victory over No. 2 seed Michigan.


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11. LSU over Kentucky (1986)

LSU over Kentucky (1986)


We touched on Loyola because the fourth No. 11 seed of all time to achieve the Last 4. The primary, nonetheless, was LSU. To get there, these Tigers, who took 11 losses into the 1986 NCAA Match, beat the top-three seeds within the Southeast Area. It was on the regional closing the place the Tigers topped No. 1 seed Kentucky 59-57. That victory got here slightly greater than two weeks after the Wildcats beat LSU 61-58 in the course of the SEC Match.


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10. Reynolds runs ‘Nova to Last 4 (2009)

Reynolds runs 'Nova to Final Four (2009)

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Some Villanova of us have dubbed the Wildcats’ 78-76, 2009 regional-final victory over No. 1 seed Pittsburgh the “Recreation of the Decade.” With the sport tied at 76, Wildcats guard Scottie Reynolds took a touch-pass from teammate Dante Cunningham at roughly three-quarter court docket, then weaved his method towards the paint and right into a wall of Pitt defenders earlier than dropping his runner in with .5 seconds to play. It secured this system’s first Last 4 look since profitable the 1985 nationwide championship.


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9. Lucas, Cowboys clip Hawks (2004)

Lucas, Cowboys clip Hawks (2004)

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With one stroke from deep, John Lucas’ three-pointer with 6.9 seconds remaining in regulation ended Saint Joseph’s particular 2004 season. Lucas’ go-ahead basket gave second-seeded Oklahoma State a 64-62 regional-final victory in one of many nice NCAA Match contests of all time. Whereas the Cowboys moved on to the Last 4, the Hawks — paced the backcourt of Jameer Nelson and Delonte West — completed  30-2.


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8. Cinderella VCU rolls over No. 1 Kansas (2011)

Cinderella VCU rolls over No. 1 Kansas (2011)

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7. North Carolina’s “Maye” day (2017)

North Carolina's "Maye" day (2017)

Kevin C. Cox/Getty Pictures

One other particular matchup between school basketball bluebloods. And, within the case of this 2017 Elite Eight contest, a gathering between Nos. 1 and a couple of seeds. The Tar Heels have been the highest seed, whereas Kentucky was proper behind. It additionally lived as much as the hype, coming proper all the way down to the ultimate seconds. After Kentucky’s Malik Monk tied at 73 with a three-pointer, Luke Maye’s jumper with 0.3 seconds remaining in regulation gave Carolina the 75-73 victory.


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6. Louisville fights again to high Pittsnogle, West Virginia (2005)

Louisville fights back to top Pittsnogle, West Virginia (2005)

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5. Spartans want double time to extinguish Sparks, Kentucky (2005)

Spartans need double time to extinguish Sparks, Kentucky (2005)

Ronald Martinez/Getty Pictures

Speak about wild. No. 2 seed Kentucky trailed by eight factors with 5:25 left in regulation, however deep-threat Patrick Sparks (15 factors, 5 three-pointers) helped get his crew again into the sport, and the Wildcats even led earlier than Michigan State tied it with 1:03 left in regulation. This on the spot basic, the place these school hoops giants mixed to go 19-of-38 from three-point vary — would wish two overtimes to resolve a winner, which might be the fifth-seeded Spartans, 94-88.


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4. Illini’s late rally stuns Arizona (2005)

Illini's late rally stuns Arizona (2005)

Jay Drowns/Sporting Information through Getty Pictures through Getty Pictures)

Some followers or school hoops specialists would possibly argue, however the spotlight of that wildly entertaining Elite Eight weekend of 2005 got here when No. 1 seed Illinois rallied to beat third-seeded Arizona 90-89 in time beyond regulation. Taking part in within the suburbs of Chicago, the Illini trailed Arizona by 15 factors with slightly over 4 minutes to play. However paced by Deron Williams and Luther Head, Illinois went on a livid 20-5 run to pressure time beyond regulation, then finally win it for its first journey to the Last 4 since 1989.


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3. By George! Mason, that’s (2006)

By George! Mason, that is (2006)

Win McNamee / Employees

George Mason’s run to the Last 4 in 2006 stays one of the crucial unbelievable performances in NCAA Match historical past. Seeded eleventh, the mid-major Patriots, underneath coach Jim Larranaga, beat Michigan State, No. 3 seed North Carolina and fellow upstart Wichita State to achieve the regional closing versus top-seed Connecticut. In opposition to the Huskies, George Mason hit half of its 60 field-goal makes an attempt, made 9 three-pointers, and obtained 19 factors with 12 rebounds from heart Will Thomas to win 86-84 in time beyond regulation. On the time, George Mason was the second double-digit seed ever to achieve the Last 4.


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2. Virginia outlasts Edwards, Boilermakers (2019)

Virginia outlasts Edwards, Boilermakers (2019)

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A 12 months after being surprised by No. 16 seed College of Maryland, Baltimore County, top-seeded Virginia redeemed itself by profitable the varsity’s first nationwide title in 2019. Within the course of, the Cavaliers survived a grueling and intense three-game stretch. Within the regional closing, Virginia overcame 42 factors from Purdue’s Carsen Edwards and wanted a Mamadi Diakite-tying bucket on the finish of regulation to finally beat the third-seeded Boilermakers 80-75 in time beyond regulation.


25 of 25

1. “The Shot” (1992)

"The Shot" (1992)

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The title says all of it. And, most school basketball followers of age know what we imply with none names concerned. Duke’s 104-103 overtime-victory over Kentucky within the 1992 regional closing is broadly considered the most effective sport in NCAA Match historical past. The competition was insanely aggressive — Kentucky shot 56.9 p.c and Duke a ridiculous 65.4 — and the groups mixed to go 20 of 38 from three-point vary. It was heated and bodily and exemplified the insanity of March. In fact, the most lasting reminiscence of that sport was Christian Laettner’s profitable turn-around jumper from the free-throw line off an ideal three-quarter court docket inbound move from Grant Hill.


Jeff Mezydlo has written about sports activities and leisure on-line and for print for greater than 25 years. He grew up within the far south suburbs of Chicago, 20 minutes from the Mascot Corridor of Fame in Whiting, Ind. He’s additionally the proud father of 11-year-old Matthew, aka “Bobby Bruin,” mascot of St. Robert Bellarmine Faculty in Chicago. You may observe Jeff at @jeffm401.

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