The top 10 games of March Madness 2023

The top 10 games of March Madness 2023

Ashton Mineo, Reporter

With Connecticut defeating San Diego State in the national championship game, March Madness has officially come to a close in 2023. This was an awesome year for college basketball and it was capped off by a crazy tournament. Connecticut was certainly the deserving champion and they are very worthy of representing the 2023 season. Now that the tournament is over, let’s take a look back at the 10 best games of the NCAA Tournament.

10. (5) Miami 88 (2) Texas 81 in the Elite 8

This year’s tournament was filled with upsets, thus setting up lower seeded match ups throughout the tournament. However, Miami did not benefit from these upsets whatsoever. The Hurricanes played the highest seeded possible opponent in every single game they played on their way to the Final Four. Miami arguably faced their toughest test yet when they were matched up with 2 seed Texas with a spot in the Final Four on the line. Miami trailed by 8 at the half and as many as 13 in the second half. The Canes overcame the adversity and pulled away at the end. The comeback was in large part thanks to Jordan Miller’s perfect 27 point game. He shot 7/7 from the field and 13/13 from the line on the way to leading Miami to their first ever Final Four berth.

9. (8) Arkansas 72 (1) Kansas 71 in the Round of 32

The defending national champions were knocked out in the second round at the hands of the Arkansas Razorbacks. This was a back and forth game in which Kansas actually led by 8 at halftime. Twenty point performances from Ricky Council IV and Devo Davis was just too much for Kansas to overcome. This is the second straight season where the defending champion has lost in the Round of 32 in a 1 vs 8 game.

8. (6) TCU 72 (11) Arizona State 70 in the Round 64

Despite shooting 13% better from the field and deep, as well as having a 7 point halftime lead, Arizona State still managed to lose this game. This was one of the flashiest games of the entire tournament. There were numerous highlight reel plays including several ridiculous dunks. Ultimately, the game came down to JaKobe Coles hitting a game-winning floater with 1.5 seconds left.

7. (9) Florida Atlantic 79 (3) Kansas State 76 in the Elite 8

Both of these teams will appear later on this list, but this match up is certainly worthy of making the list. Markquis Nowell balled out as per usual, putting up 30 and 12, but it wasn’t enough to secure a Final Four bid. Instead, the Owls punched their ticket for the first time ever. Kansas State had a chance to tie it up at the end, but they turned it over before they could get a shot up.

6. (5) San Diego State 57 (6) Creighton 56 in the Elite 8

The Elite 8 definitely did not disappoint this year and I believe this match up was the best of the bunch. This game was a defensive slug fest. Both teams held each other to very low percentages from the field and from deep. Although it wasn’t the prettiest game, it still came down to the very last possession. With the Aztecs trailing by 1, Darrion Trammell drove in and drew a controversial foul call that resulted in two free throw attempts. Trammell sunk both shots to send the Aztecs to their first Final Four in school history.

5. (13) Furman 68 (4) Virginia 67 in the Round of 64

Furman got the upset party started early when they pulled off a miraculous win over Virginia in the 2nd game of the tournament. With the loss, Virginia has now lost to double digit seed in the first round three out of the last four years. Ironically, the only exception was when they won the title in 2019. Virginia was in control for the majority of this game and they led the Paladins by 4 with only 10 seconds remaining. Furman then knocked down two free throws to cut the lead in half. The ball was inbounded to Virginia’s senior point guard, Kihei Clark. Clark was swarmed by Furman defenders at the catch point, forcing Clark to launch a pass across court that was picked off by a Furman defender who found JP Pegues for an open three and the lead. Ten seconds of madness allowed for a massive upset.

4. (16) Fairleigh Dickinson 63 (1) Purdue 58 in the Round of 64

Sticking with the upset theme here, how about the largest upset in NCAA Tournament history. The Knights were widely viewed as the worst team in the field going into the tournament. FDU only got into the tournament because the team that won their conference was ineligible to play in the postseason. Mind you, the conference FDU plays in was regarded as the worst conference in division I and FDU didn’t even win it! Purdue was excellent all season long, they won the Big 10 and received a number 1 seed in the NCAA Tournament. None of this mattered on game day. The game was tight throughout, but it was clear that FDU came in more prepared and they just wanted it more. Despite a 21 point, 15 rebound performance from National Player of the Year, Zach Edey, David was able to take down Goliath.

3. (3) Gonzaga 79 (2) UCLA 76 in the Sweet 16

This game absolutely had it all. At this point it is just a forgone conclusion that when these two teams play each other, there will be fireworks. These two squads have provided us with several classics over the years. The stars were definitely out this game as Gonzaga’s Drew Timme went for 36 and 13 and UCLA’s Jaime Jaquez Jr. put up 29 and 11. Two senior, All-Americans at the top of their game battling it out on the nation’s biggest stage is what college basketball is all about. This game was a tale of two halves, as UCLA dominated Gonzaga in the first half, but the Zags controlled the 2nd. UCLA was held to 0 made field goals for over 1o minutes in the second half. Gonzaga held an 11 point lead with just 2 minutes to go. Jaime Jaquez somehow powered his team to within striking distance and Amari Bailey hit a three to put UCLA ahead with just over 10 seconds to go. Gonzaga proceeded to run the same play Villanova used in 2016 to win the national championship, giving Julian Strawther an open look from three that gave Gonzaga the lead. A plethora of clutch shots and a roller coaster of emotions led to an eventual Gonzaga win.

2. (3) Kansas State 98 (7) Michigan State 93 (OT) in the Sweet 16

If you want to put this game at number 1, you would get no argument out of me. This was peak college basketball. Both teams were knocking down shots and finishing tough plays left and right. Markquis Nowell set the tournament record with 19 assists. Nowell was unconscious this game; he and Keyontae Johnson connected for several alley-oops throughout the game. Tyson Walker and AJ Hoggard hit clutch shots to keep the Spartans in the game, and Walker eventually sent the game to overtime with a game-tying bucket. The Spartans gave a valiant effort, but Nowell and the Wildcats were too much in overtime.

1. (5) San Diego State 72 (9) Florida Atlantic 71 in the Final Four

You just simply cannot beat an instant classic in the Final Four. On the biggest stage with everybody watching, these two teams gave us a fantastic game. Both schools were playing in their first Final Four game in school history, and they both left it all on the line. Florida Atlantic got ahead early, but San Diego State surged back in the 2nd half. Florida Atlantic missed a free throw with 9 seconds left and the Aztecs pulled down the rebound trailing by 1. Lamont Butler pushed the ball down the floor and knocked down a mid-range jumper at the buzzer for the win. This was the tournament’s only true buzzer beater, and it happened in the national semi-final. Game. Of. The. Year.