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The 10 Most Iconic Plays in Men's March Madness History

Joe Tansey

Whenever the NCAA men's basketball tournament rolls around, we have a chance to relive some of the competition's best moments through highlight montages.

Some of the most iconic plays in the tourney's history came at the last second, with championship-winning shots always among the most memorable.

While most of the moments caused pure excitement on the court, there were a handful of plays that went down in infamy for the humiliation they caused.

Other moments were unfortunately memorable because they occurred in tragic circumstances.

Regardless of which criteria these plays fit, they'll be remembered forever as part of March Madness lore.

Lorenzo Charles' Game-Winner in 1983 Championship Game

Lorenzo Charles earned himself a spot in NCAA tournament history with his game-winning shot in the 1983 national championship. 

He jumped to haul in a short shot from Dereck Whittenburg and dunked the winning score before the buzzer sounded to beat top-seeded Houston and win a national title. 

Somehow, Charles was left open down in the paint by the Houston forwards, including Hakeem Olajuwon. 

Charles' game-winner finished off one of the top upsets in NCAA tournament history and denied the historic Phi Slamma Jamma team at Houston from becoming champion. 

Christian Laettner's Shot to Beat Kentucky in 1992

With 2.1 seconds left on the clock in overtime of the 1992 East Region final, Christian Laettner hauled in a three-quarter-court pass, took one dribble and sank the game-winning shot to put Duke into the Final Four. 

"The Shot" capped one of the best games in NCAA tournament history, which saw Duke down Kentucky 104-103 in the extra period. 

While Laettner's shot is the most memorable moment from the 1992 edition of March Madness, it wasn't the final key play made by the Blue Devils, as they went on to beat Indiana and Michigan to win the title. 

Chris Webber Calls Timeout with No Timeouts Left

A year after Duke's magical run was powered by Laettner's shot, one of the most epic blunders in NCAA tournament history occurred. 

With 11 seconds left on the clock, Michigan's Chris Webber called timeout as he was trapped in a corner of the court by a pair of North Carolina defenders. 

The only problem for Webber was that the Wolverines were out of timeouts, which meant they were assessed a technical foul by the officials. 

North Carolina went on to win the 1993 national championship game by six points after Webber's mistake. 

Webber was also fortunate to not get called for travelling when he initially picked up the ball, which may have been slightly less embarrassing than the blunder he was eventually punished for.

Bo Kimble Honors Hank Gathers with Left-Handed Free Throw

The 1990 Loyola Marymount team was one of the best mid-major squads to grace the NCAA tournament. 

Unfortunately for the Lions, they advanced to the Big Dance in the worst situation imaginable after forward Hank Gathers died of a heart condition during the West Coast Conference tournament.

With Gathers' No. 44 patched on to the right shoulder of his jersey, Bo Kimble, who is right-handed, shot his first free throw of the tournament with his left hand to honor Gathers. 

Kimble and his teammates led Loyola Marymount on a run to the Elite Eight that included victories over New Mexico State, Michigan and Alabama before it fell to top-seeded UNLV.

Mario Chalmers Completes Kansas Comeback

The 2008 championship game is known for both Kansas' incredible comeback and Memphis' total collapse at the free-throw line. 

Kansas guard Mario Chalmers completed his team's comeback in regulation, as he knocked down a three-pointer with 2.1 seconds left. 

Chalmers' game-tying shot forced overtime, and that's when Kansas took over, winning the title in the extra period by seven points. 

Michael Jordan's Championship-Winning Shot

Before he went on to star in the NBA with the Chicago Bulls, Michael Jordan won the 1982 national championship for North Carolina. 

He knocked down the game-winning shot with 14 seconds left against Georgetown to hand the star-studded Tar Heels the title.

Seconds after Jordan's shot, teammate James Worthy picked off a pass at the top of the key and sealed the victory. 

The Tar Heels, who eliminated a Houston team with Hakeem Olajuwon coming off the bench in the national semifinal, defeated Georgetown 63-62.

Keith Smart Hands Indiana 1987 Title

A year after falling in the first round to No. 14 seed Cleveland State, Indiana worked its way into the 1987 national championship against Syracuse. 

On the final Indiana possession, Keith Smart received the ball on the wing and won the title with a jumper. 

Smart was one of three players to score 20 points or more in the victory for the Hoosiers, who faced a difficult task from the opening tip against a Syracuse team headlined by Derrick Coleman, Rony Seikaly and Sherman Douglas, who all went on to play in the NBA. 

Kris Jenkins Wins Villanova's 2016 Title at the Buzzer

With 1.6 seconds left and the game tied at 74, Villanova guard Kris Jenkins received a pass from Ryan Arcidiacono and knocked down a game-winning three-pointer against North Carolina. 

In just over a second, he got his shot off and the rest is history.

Jenkins' game-winner spurred a wild celebration on the court as the Wildcats won their first championship since 1985. 

Bryce Drew's Buzzer-Beater

One of the most iconic first-round moments occurred in 1998. 

Valparaiso's Bryce Drew beat the buzzer with a three-point shot to hand the 13th-seeded Crusaders a victory over No. 4 Ole Miss. 

The level of difficulty on Drew's buzzer-beater was high. A half-court pass with 2.5 seconds left and an assist in traffic from Bill Jenkins set up the shot and one of the best celebrations in tournament history. 

Tyus Edney's Mad Dash

Tyus Edney etched his name into NCAA tournament lore in the 1995 second round. 

With 4.8 seconds on the clock, he picked up the inbounds pass and drove all the way down the court to deliver a game-winner. 

Edney's mad dash to the basket became even more important as the tournament moved on, as UCLA went on to win the national title over Arkansas. 

   
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