March Madness is known for its upsets, its wild games, and of course, its buzzer-beaters. There have been many buzzer-beaters over the years, but some stand out more than others. These are the iconic buzzer-beaters that, especially if you watched them live, you would remember forever.
Where does Gonzaga’s Jalen Suggs’ last-second, from-the-logo bank shot to fall in the pantheon of all-time March Madness buzzer-beaters? It can be argued that, for several reasons, it is the best buzzer-beater in the history of college basketball. Here’s a look at some of the other shots it can be compared to.
Too Far from Midnight
To be the best buzzer-beater in college basketball history, it must happen during March Madness, first and foremost, so that puts Suggs’ shot in contention right away. As the tournament goes along and the stakes and the pressure ramp up, the buzzer-beaters take on more importance.
Because a later in the tourney buzzer-beater makes a better buzzer-beater, the Suggs shot has to be ranked ahead of all the famous first and second-round game-winners. This includes Valparaiso’s Bryce Drew’s three versus Ole Miss in 1998, Paul Jesperson’s half-court heave for Northern Iowa to upset Texas in 2016, and Tyus Edney’s full-court scamper to sink Missouri in 1995.
Still Not Late Enough
Once you get out of the first weekend, the buzzer-beaters become more meaningful and more memorable. The second weekend has produced two of the most famous college basketball shots. For the over-40 crowd, Tate George’s turnaround from the corner ranks up there with the best-ever shots of the tournament. It was only in the Sweet 16, but it was the shot that put Jim Calhoun and UConn on the map and set them up for all their success to come.
By far, the most famous shot in college basketball history came in the 1992 Elite 8 with Duke’s Christian Laettner game-winner over Kentucky. Laettner also hit a great buzzer-beater to knock out the Tate George UConn team above, but it is the three-quarters-court pass from Grant Hill and Laettner’s turnaround that people remember. This was also in overtime like Suggs’ shot, and there was probably more star power in this game, but the game wasn’t the Final Four.
Later but Not Greater
There have been two incredible National Championship-winning buzzer-beaters in March Madness history. In 1983, NC State’s Lorenzo Charles dunked home an airball at the buzzer to upset the seemingly unstoppable Phi Slamma Jamma Houston Cougars. The image of the late NC State coach Jim Valvano running around looking for someone to hug is one of the tournament’s best-ever images.
In 2016, there was Ryan Arcidiacono’s scoop to Kris Jenkins for three to give Villanova the win over North Carolina and win Jay Wright his first National Championship. While these shots were both amazing and allowed their team to hoist the trophy, they weren’t in overtime, and they do not have the full weight of history that Suggs’ shot might.