The best Sweet 16 moments from the NCAA men's tournament

Here's our ranking...

1/12 ‚óŹ Yardbarker
tap to see next page

10. Cinderella Gonzaga tips way into Elite Eight (1999)

Photo: Getty Images.

The 1999 NCAA Tournament was Gonzaga's national coming-out party. The Zags' program has not looked back since, but that 1998-99 group deserves to be celebrated.

As the No. 10 seed, Gonzaga knocked off second-seeded Stanford in the round of 32, then faced No. 6 seed Florida in the Sweet 16.

Trailing the Gators by a point, Casey Calvary tipped-in teammate Quentin Hall's missed runner with 4.4 seconds left in regulation to send Gonzaga to the Elite Eight with a 73-72 triumph.

Having Gus Johnson on the call only made it better.

9. Paulino shoots Texas over West Virginia (2006)

Photo: YouTube.

Memorable, last-second shots are part of just about every NCAA Tournament. That was the case during the regional finals of 2006, when second-seeded Texas' Kenton Paulino drained a three-pointer at the buzzer to stun Kevin Pittsnogle and No.

6 seed West Virginia, 72. Paulino had just five points at the time of his game-winner.

It just proves that it doesn't take the star of the team -- which was shared by LaMarcus Aldridge and P.J. Tucker -- to be the hero.

8. Zags give it away to UCLA (2006)

Photo: Jed Jacobsohn/Getty Images.

With a trip to the 2006 Elite Eight in its sights, No. 3 seed Gonzaga led second-seeded UCLA the entire game and was up one when the Bruins pressed and forced a J.P. Batista turnover with 12.9 seconds left in regulation .

Which, in turn, resulted in Jordan Farmar's pass to a wide-open Luc Richard Mbah a Moute at the basket for the go-ahead layup -- exuberantly called by Gus Johnson.

UCLA won 73-71, leaving Zags star Adam Morrison wallowing on the floor in disappointment.

7. Crawford stars, but Xavier falls to K-State in double-OT thriller (2010)

Photo: Jed Jacobsohn/Getty Images.

Talk about having a moment. Jordan Crawford finished with 32 points in sixth-seeded Xavier's wild 101-96 double-overtime loss to No. 2 Kansas State in the Sweet 16 of the 2010 tournament.

Despite the Musketeers' bitter defeat, Crawford provided the most memorable moment of the game when he drilled a deep three-pointer with just over four seconds left to force the second overtime.

Of course, having Gus Johnson on the call made the moment even more exciting.

6. Burke's long-distance call against Kansas (2013)

Photo: Ronald Martinez/Getty Images.

Kansas was the No. 1 seed at the 2013 NCAA Tournament. But, fourth-seeded Michigan had star sophomore Trey Burke when these two perennial powers met up in the regional semifinals. In this highly competitive contest, Michigan shot 49.3 percent and the Jayhawks were at 54.5.

Burke, though, hit a massive 30-foot, game-tying three-pointer with 4.2 seconds remaining to force overtime.

Ultimately, that shot from Burke, who scored all 23 of his points after halftime, helped the Wolverines win 87-85.

5. VCU edges Florida State in underdog battle (2011)

Photo: Ronald Martinez/Getty Images.

In 2011, the "First Four" play-in games certainly made a lasting impression. Thanks to VCU, which knocked off USC in one of those contests.

Then, as the No. 11 seed, the Rams beat Georgetown and Purdue, respectively, each by 18 points.

In the Sweet 16, VCU wasn't the only upstart to advance. No. 10 seed Florida State just took down second-ranked Notre Dame, and now looked to end the Rams' Cinderella run.

In one of the most entertaining and spirited games in NCAA Tournament history , Bradford Burgess (26 points) recorded the go-ahead layup off an inbounds pass with 7.1 seconds remaining in overtime and teammate Rob Brandenberg blocked an FSU shot at the buzzer to give VCU a 72-71 victory.

4. Hamilton "Rips" upstart Washington (1998)

Photo: YouTube.

Richard Hamilton and second-seeded Connecticut did not win the national championship in 1998 (that would come a season later).

However, the man known as "Rip" was the hero of one of the wildest finishing sequences in the history of the NCAA Tournament.

With UConn trailing 11th seed Washington by one in the '98 Sweet 16, the Huskies got three shots off in the final seven seconds.

It was Hamilton's second fall-away jumper at the buzzer, eventually, that was the difference in the 75-74 victory.

3.. By George! UConn takes down Clemson (1990)

Photo: YouTube.

Hoops fans love their buzzer-beaters. Especially in March. Some are remarkable. Then there are those that make us scratch our heads in wonder at how they were allowed to happen at all.

Taking nothing away from top-seeded Connecticut's Tate George.

His impressive full-court catch, and even more miraculous turnaround buzzer-beating jumper to shock No. 5 seed Clemson, 71-70, in the 1990 Sweet 16, is legendary in the minds of Huskies fans.

That said, it's puzzling that the Tigers were unable to properly defend an inbound heave, and the ensuing shot when they seemed to have plenty of players in position to accomplish both.

2. Ainge goes coast-to-coast to sink Irish (1981)

Photo: YouTube.

BYU's highly entertaining regional semifinal against second-seeded Notre Dame in 1981 is still considered one of the great games in NCAA Tournament history.

It's obviously known for the game's memorable finish, courtesy of Cougars star Danny Ainge.

The play started with eight seconds remaining in regulation and BYU down by one.

When it ended, Ainge had gone the length of the court, weaving his way through the Irish defense and in for a floating layup that fell with two seconds left.

Notre Dame's desperation chance was short and six-seed BYU prevailed, 51-50.

1. "The Game of Change" (1963)

Photo: YouTube.

One of the most significant games in the history of college basketball featured a Loyola, Chicago team with four black starters -- something still unheard of even amid the growing civil rights movement in the United States.

The Ramblers' 1963 regional semifinal opponent was Mississippi State, an all-white squad whose program never played in the NCAA Tournament because Mississippi colleges, at the time, refused to face teams with black players.

However, that changed when Mississippi State president Dean W. Colvard allowed the team to travel, creatively albeit, to Michigan to meet Loyola.

15 More Sweet 16 moments

The deeper into the men's NCAA Tournament we go, the more memorable the moments become. Whether buzzer-beating shots, prime-time individual performances, or historic accomplishments, the Sweet 16, in particular, has given college basketball fans some lasting memories.

The most inspiring sports moments of 2021

Watch Next