Whether you call it the “Big Dance” or the NCAA Tournament, in the end, it’s all just March Madness. From buzzer-beaters to upsets to making program history, the 2017 NCAA Tournament had it all.
A year after losing on a last-second shot to Villanova in last year’s championship game, North Carolina avenged its loss with a 71-65 victory over Gonzaga to claim the program’s sixth national title.
So here’s a look back at all the memorable moments, crazy finishes, and best performances.
It was sweet revenge for the Tar Heels. Not only did UNC win the title, but also became just the fourth team in NCAA history to bounce back after losing the national championship the previous year.
UNC head coach Roy Williams also won his 100th NCAA Tournament game and surpassed passed mentor Dean Smith in the process with his third national title. Williams joins an elite group of coaches as he is now one of just six to have three basketball titles.
UNC’s path to the title game was full of some incredible games as the Tar Heels rallied to beat Arkansas and then followed it up with a last-second shot to beat Kentucky as they marched their way towards the title game.
Gonzaga set numerous school records during its magnificent run to the NCAA Championship game against North Carolina. The Zags went 29-0 to start the season, were ranked No. 1 in both major polls and got a No. 1 seed in the NCAA Tournament too.
Despite the heartbreaking loss in the championship game, the Zags broke the Sweet 16 curse and Head Coach Mark Few recorded his 500th victory in the process to become the third fastest coach to do so at the NCAA level.
Nobody expected much from Wisconsin when they took on the defending champs and top-ranked Villanova Wildcats during the second round of the NCAA Tournament.
Enter Nigel Hayes. The junior was sensational in the win over the Wildcats as he scored a team-high 19 points, eight rebounds and hit the go-ahead basket to give the Badgers the win. The victory was one of the biggest upsets of the entire tournament.
It was arguably the best game of the tournament.
Down three with 6.5 seconds left in the game, Wisconsin guard Zak Showalter hit a ridiculous 3-pointer to force overtime as the Badgers ended the game on an 8-0 run. With Green Bay star quarterback Aaron Rodgers in attendance, Showalter even flashed the Discount Double-Check celebration his way after hitting the shot.
But the celebration didn’t last long as Florida got the last laugh. With four seconds left in overtime, and his team down 83-81, junior guard Chris Chiozza went coast-to-coast before hitting the game-winning shot to send the Gators to the Elite 8.
— NCAA March Madness (@marchmadness) March 25, 2017
It took 77 years, but Northwestern played in its first NCAA Tournament game. Fans traveled in bunches to Salt Lake City for the first round game against Vanderbilt in what turned out to be a huge homecourt advantage for the Wildcats.
And fans didn’t leave disappointed as the Wildcats defeated the Commodores 68-66 to earn the program’s first NCAA tournament win.
What a run by Xavier.
The 11th-seeded Musketeers stunned the college basketball world with an incredible 73-71 comeback victory over No. 2 Arizona. Xavier went on to advance to the Elite Eight where it fell to No. 1 Gonzaga.
The victory over the Wildcats was sweet in that the Musketeers beat their old coach Sean Miller who left to take over the head coaching duties at Arizona. Not only did they beat their former coach, they also did so without several key players after Xavier lost its starting point guard (Edmond Sumner), to a season-ending knee injury in January. The Musketeers went on a six-game losing streak before its marvelous NCAA Tournament run.
No, we’re not talking football here. South Carolina has made great strides with its basketball program recently after the Gamecocks went from losing records to making school history this past season. South Carolina won its first NCAA Tournament game since 1973 this year and knocked off Duke, Baylor, and Florida to make its first-ever Elite 8 appearance.
South Carolina won its first NCAA Tournament game since 1973 this year and knocked off Duke, Baylor, and Florida in the process to making its first-ever Elite 8 appearance.
USC plays basketball?
Yes, they do. And they are pretty good at it too. Just ask SMU.
The 11th-seeded Trojans — who had to play in the play-in game before taking on SMU — knocked off the sixth-seeded Mustangs with another stunning double-digit comeback. USC pulled it off thanks to a game-winning 3-pointer by Elijah Stewart.
After eight decades and for the first time since 1939, the Oregon Ducks made a triumphant return to the Final Four after taking down the top-seeded Kansas Jayhawks.
“Since 1939,” Oregon head coach Dana Altman said. “We waited a long time.”
The Ducks survived an upset from Rhode Island and followed it up with wins over Michigan and Kansas before falling to eventual national champion North Carolina in a heartbreaking 77-76 loss.
It was no April Fools’ joke.
No. 2 Mississippi State took down top-ranked Connecticut, 66-64, in perhaps the biggest upset in women’s college basketball history.
In the national semifinals and with the whole world watching, UConn couldn’t keep the streak going as the loss ended the Huskies’ 111-game winning streak.
With the game all tied up at 64, Mississippi State guard Morgan William got the ball with less than five seconds to go in the game. The junior quickly drove into the lane before hitting a nifty floater to send the Bulldogs to the title game.