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Top 10 Buzzer Beating Shots in NCAA Tournament History

What we learned!
Publish Date: 03/21/2024
Fact checked by: Mark Lewis

Buzzer-beaters in March Madness never get old, and today we will look at the most incredible game-winning shots in March Madness history!

 

Criteria

The shot has to be at the end of the game; it has to decide the winner. Beyond that, how late in the tourney was it? How iconic is the shot? The number one pick is on here because even thirty years later, no shot was more iconic.

At the Gun!

10) James Forrest, Georgia Tech 1992 vs USC

The best part of this was the late Al McGuire screaming Holy Mackerel! Check out our March Madness upset predictions for 2024!

Video: USC Trojans vs Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets (3-21-1992) (NCAA Tournament)

USC Trojans vs Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets (3-21-1992) (NCAA Tournament) “HOLY MACKEREL!!!!”

9) Bryce Drew, Valparaiso 1998 vs Ole Miss

Three men had to be perfect on this play for it to work. The baseball pass and the quick pitch to Drew for the game-winner were well executed. Drew was an Indiana High school legend, and after this one shining moment, college basketball fans will never forget him.

Video: Bryce Drew buzzer beater: Valpo vs. Ole Miss (1998)

Bryce Drew buzzer beater: Valpo vs. Ole Miss (1998)

8) Paul Jesperson, Northern Iowa, 2016 vs Texas

Jesperson’s half-court buzzer-beater was absolutely stunning and it was just another game that made the 2016 tournament version one of the wildest of all.

Video: Northern Iowa vs. Texas: Paul Jesperson half-court buzzer-beater

Northern Iowa vs. Texas: Paul Jesperson half-court buzzer-beater

7) Donte Ingram, Loyola-Chicago 2018 vs Miami(Fla)

If Ingram missed this shot, we would have missed out on one of the greatest Cinderella stories of all time, and nobody would know who Sister Jean is.

Video: Loyola Chicago's Donte Ingram hits long buzzer-beater three to take down Miami

Loyola Chicago’s Donte Ingram hits long buzzer-beater three to take down Miami

6) Lorenzo Charles, North Carolina State 1983 vs Houston

I know this buzzer-beater shot was from a few inches away as it was a tip-in of Derrick Wittenberg’s shot by Lorenzo Charles but the significance of the game and the shot still resonates today.

Video: Lorenzo Charles dunk to win 1983 National Championship

Lorenzo Charles dunk to win 1983 National Championship

5) US Reed, Arkansas 1981 vs Louisville

Reed’s shot from 50 feet away was only worth two points as no three-point line existed yet in College. The Louisville Cardinals were the defending National champions coming into this game.

Video: U.S. Reed (Game-winning shot vs Louisville)

U.S. Reed (Game-winning shot vs Louisville)

4) Jalen Suggs, Gonzaga 2021 vs UCLA

UCLA was Cinderella as an eleven seed, and nobody gave them a chance. It took a miracle shot from Suggs to finally make the clock strike midnight for the Bruins.

Video: Jalen Suggs Game-Winning Buzzer-Beater - UCLA vs. Gonzaga - Final Four 2021

Jalen Suggs Game-Winning Buzzer-Beater – UCLA vs. Gonzaga – Final Four 2021

3) Keith Smart, Indiana 1987 vs Syracuse

The first-ever one-shining-moment exit video ended with this Smart shot that helped the Indiana Hoosiers hold their fifth banner. This Hoosier team was not the most talented, but they were a tenacious group that battled all along the tournament road. They beat LSU at the buzzer and stunned UNLV by outgunning them in a game played in the nineties. Smart was one of Indiana’s first JUCO transfers, and on this night, he made one of the biggest shots in college basketball history.

Video: Keith Smart winning shot 1987

Keith Smart winning shot 1987

2) Kris Jenkins, Villanova, 2016 vs North Carolina

Does it get any better than a buzzer-beater to win an NCAA Championship over North Carolina? The coolest thing about this shot was the cool demeanor of Head Coach Jay Wright while everything around him was chaos! This in my opinion was the greatest NCAA championship game ever played as seemingly three shots were hit in the last twenty seconds that could have been the winning shot for either team.

Video: Villanova vs. North Carolina: Kris Jenkins shot wins national title

Villanova vs. North Carolina: Kris Jenkins shot wins national title

1) Christian Laettner, Duke 1992 vs Kentucky

This is still the most famous shot in March Madness history, as two iconic programs went toe-to-toe in one of the greatest basketball games ever played. I still don’t understand why the Wildcats did not put somebody on the inbounds passer. To this day, the very mention of Laettner sends a UK fan into fits of rage and tears; God Bless you, Christian Laettner!

Video: Christian Laettner hits THE SHOT

Christian Laettner hits THE SHOT

Honorable Mentions

Rip Hamilton, UCONN, 1998 vs Washington

Hamilton hit a last-second dagger to send UConn to the Elite Eight in 1998, and how he did so was enthralling. He missed an easier shot on the same possession as did his teammates, but ultimately Hamilton hit this tough fadeaway as time expired.

Video: 1998 Uconn vs. Washington: Rip Hamilton Buzzer Beater

1998 Uconn vs. Washington: Rip Hamilton Buzzer Beater

Christian Laettner, Duke 1990 vs UCONN

Laettner appears on this list more than once and an argument can be made that he was the greatest college basketball player of all time. Laettner would go on to lead the Blue Devils to their first National Championship in 1991 and then he topped it off with a repeat in 1992.

Video: Christian Laettner buzzer beater vs. UConn (1990)

Christian Laettner buzzer beater vs. UConn (1990)

Tyus Edney, UCLA 1995 vs Missouri

This was UCLA’s only close game of the tournament, and Edney’s drive was a season-saver for the Bruins!

Video: Tyus Edney miracle against Missouri

Tyus Edney miracle against Missouri

Korie Lucious, Michigan State 2010

The Spartans used this shot as a catalyst to the Final Four. The amazing thing is how calm Lucious is during the shot fake and shot.

Video: Korie Lucious Game Winning Buzzer Beater vs Maryland

Korie Lucious Game Winning Buzzer Beater vs Maryland

Kenton Paulino, Texas 2006 vs West Virginia

Kevin Pittsnogle hit the game-tying basket, but Texas’ Kenton Paulino hit an NBA-range three to skate past the Mountaineers.

Video: Kenton Paulino gamewinning shot

Kenton Paulino gamewinning shot

Bronson Koenig, Wisconsin 2016 vs Xavier

The shot which was hit in from up the Badgers bench was epic unless you are a Xavier fan.

Video: Wisconsin vs. Xavier: Bronson Koenig game-winning three-pointer

Wisconsin vs. Xavier: Bronson Koenig game-winning three-pointer

Drew Nicholas, Maryland 2003 vs UNC Wilmington

Nicholas’s shot destroyed the Cinderella hopes of UNCW and the Terapins would end up advancing to the sweet 16.

Video: Drew Nicholas Shot

Drew Nicholas Shot

Tate George, UCONN 1990 vs Clemson

Tate George’s shot was fantastic, but Scotty Burrell’s full-court pass was even better than the shot. UCONN would actually lose in their next game on a Christian Laettner buzzer-beater.

Video: 1990 Sweet Sixteen Tate George

1990 Sweet Sixteen Tate George “The Shot” Radio Call

Jordan Poole, Michigan 2018 vs Houston

Two missed free throws with three seconds left cost Houston the game as Poole hit his wide-legged shot, eventually leading to a Final Four trip for the Wolverines.

Video: Michigan's Jordan Poole hits game-winning shot at buzzer to beat Houston in 2018 NCAA tournament

Michigan’s Jordan Poole hits game-winning shot at buzzer to beat Houston in 2018 NCAA tournament

Danny Ainge, BYU 1981 vs Notre Dame

Danny Ainge was a stone-cold killer when the game was on the line, and this plat cemented his legacy as a great college basketball player. If you are looking for new sportsbooks to work with, check out our rankings!

Video: Danny Ainge buzzer beater sends BYU to 1981 Elite Eight

Danny Ainge buzzer beater sends BYU to 1981 Elite Eight

Chris Chiozza, Florida 2017 vs Wisconsin

With the Gators trailing by two, Chiozza hoisted a floater from just beyond the 3-point line that fell as the buzzer sounded. It gave Florida an 84-83 win over Wisconsin and sent the Gators on to the Elite Eight.

Video: Florida vs. Wisconsin: Chris Chiozza hits buzzer-beater three!

Florida vs. Wisconsin: Chris Chiozza hits buzzer-beater three!

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