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The Grueling Truth - Where Legends Speak / Top 11 NCAA Tournament Games of All Time

Top 11 NCAA Tournament Games of All Time

The greatest games!
Publish Date: 03/12/2023
Fact checked by: Mark Lewis

March Madness is one of the most significant sporting events, and picking the top 11 games is almost impossible, but today we are going to take a shot at it!

Top 11 Games

11) 1979 NCAA Championship game Indiana State vs Michigan State

Hear me out! I know this was not a great game, but this game was the most highly anticipated and the most watched game in college basketball history. March Madness blew up after this confrontation between Bird and Magic. These two men took all of basketball to new heights. It could have been a classic if the Sycamores could have made their free throws, but in the end, it was a magical night for the Spartans as they defeated Indiana State 75-64. Greg Kelser was the difference in this game.

Video: Magic vs. Bird: Their legendary 1979 NCAA title game battle

Magic vs. Bird: Their legendary 1979 NCAA title game battle

10) 1957 National Championship North Carolina vs Kansas

The Kansas Jayhawks led by Wilt Chamberlin were heavy favorites over the Tar Heels. The Tar Heels didn’t seem to notice as they out rebounded the Kansas Jayhawks 36-25 and held them to just 31 per cent shooting from the field.

Video: NCAA Basketball: Carolina Defeats Kansas for Title (1957, Frank Koza Collection)

NCAA Basketball: Carolina Defeats Kansas for Title (1957, Frank Koza Collection)

9) 2005 Regional Final Arizona vs Illinois

Illinois was down 15 points with a little more than four minutes to play, Illinois stormed back behind Deron Williams (22 points) and Luther Head (20 points) to force overtime in front of the pro-orange crowd. Hassan Adams’ jumper at the buzzer fell short for Arizona, leaving the Wildcats to wonder what could have been.

Video: Illinois' 15-point comeback vs. Arizona in 2005 Elite Eight

Illinois’ 15-point comeback vs. Arizona in 2005 Elite Eight

8) 1963 National Championship Loyola-Chicago vs Cincinnati

Cincinnati was the defending back to back National champions and going into the game it seemed like a foregone conclusion that Cincinnati would win. It looked like a Cincinnati three-peat was on its way as the Bearcats led by as many as 15 points. Jerry Harkness led the Ramblers all the way back to win the game in overtime.

Video: SportsCenter Flashback: 1963 NCAA Basketball, Loyola Chicago vs. Cincinnati (Feb 2002)

SportsCenter Flashback: 1963 NCAA Basketball, Loyola Chicago vs. Cincinnati (Feb 2002)

7) 1982 National Championship North Carolina vs Georgetown

This was a classic and the star-power in this game was crazy! Worthy, Jordan, Perkins, Ewing, are not a bad list of players in this game. Both teams played well and shot over 50 percent from the field.

Video: Michael Jordan's game-winner vs. Georgetown (1982) | FINAL MINUTE

Michael Jordan’s game-winner vs. Georgetown (1982) | FINAL MINUTE

6) 1983 NCAA Championship N.C. State vs Houston

Before the ACC Tournament, nobody gave the Wolfpack a shot to even get into the tournament let alone win it! The Houston Cougars were seemingly destined to win it all. The Wolfpack controlled the pace of the game and in the end, foul problems and lack of free-throw shooting helped lead to a surprise winner.

Video: Lorenzo Charles dunk to win 1983 National Championship

Lorenzo Charles dunk to win 1983 National Championship

5) 1987 National Championship Indiana vs Syracuse

Coach Bob Knight won his third and final National Championship and it was by far his toughest. Steve Alford went off in the first half to keep the Hoosiers in the game and his backcourt mate Keith Smart hit the game-winning shot to lead the Hoosiers to victory in a classic.

Video: Keith Smart 1987

Keith Smart 1987 “The Shot”

4) 1991 Final Four UNLV vs Duke

This was a rematch of the 1990 title game won by 30 points by UNLV. The Rebels came into this game undefeated and seemingly invincible. Christian Laettner led this upset as Duke shot well over 50 per cent from the field to ruin the Rebels dreams of a perfect season.

Video: Duke 79 - U.N.L.V. 77 (1991)

Duke 79 – U.N.L.V. 77 (1991)

3) 1985 NCAA Championship Georgetown vs Villanova

This was quite possibly the best-played championship game ever played. The Hoyas were the defending champions and defensively were one of the teams in college basketball history. The Wildcats needed to be at their absolute best — and they were. Nova shot an incredible 78.6 per cent from the field, while Georgetown only shot 54.7 per cent. This will go down as one of the two greatest upsets in Finals history!

Video: 1985 Villanova - NCAA Championship Game Recap

1985 Villanova – NCAA Championship Game Recap

2) 1992 Regional Final Duke vs Kentucky

This was a battle between two of college basketball’s blueblood programs and it lived up to the hype. The energy in the arena and on the floor was extraordinary, to say the least. The game was physical and violent tempers flared and emotions were high. The Kentucky Wildcats shot 56.9% from the field at still lost!

Video: Christian Laettner's shot sinks Kentucky in 1992 Elite Eight

Christian Laettner’s shot sinks Kentucky in 1992 Elite Eight

1) 2016 NCAA Championship Villanova vs North Carolina

This was a high-level matchup and the stats show that as these teams combined to hit 19 out of 31 three-point shots and the final seconds of the game were crazy. The Tar Heels’ Marcus Paige set the stage with a remarkable, off-balanced three-pointer with 4.7 seconds left to tie the game. Then, Kris Jenkins hit perhaps the greatest shot in tournament history with his game-winning three at the buzzer. This was not only the greatest championship game in history it was simply the greatest tournament game ever played.

Video: Villanova vs. North Carolina: 2016 National Championship game highlights

Villanova vs. North Carolina: 2016 National Championship game highlights

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