There truly might not be a better rush of excitement than when you see a shot drop through the net after the buzzer goes off (assuming your allegiances aren’t on the side of the team victimized by the shot).
The year 2016 brought some great ones in college basketball, including, as everyone unquestionably remembers vividly, one to win the national championship. Here are some of the best true buzzer beaters — no time left on the clock at the end of regulation or overtime to tie or win it — in the past calendar year.
Jan. 16: Lewis vs. Missouri-St. Louis
Let’s start things off in the Division II ranks, where Lewis’ Max Strus knocked down a game-winner from the other 3-point line off a steal.
Jan. 21: UMass Lowell vs. New Hampshire
Down by a point, UMass Lowell’s Daniel Dion made an incredibly difficult shot off an inbounds pass. Dion received the ball falling away from the basket, turned, and hoisted up a shot well beyond the arc, and it splashed right through.
Feb. 3: Rutgers vs. Illinois
Corey Sanders’ 3-pointer forced a second overtime, though Rutgers eventually fell to Illinois in three overtime periods. Sanders missed a step-back 3, but got a fortunate bounce for the offensive rebound, ran back out to the 3-point line, and in one motion hoisted up a turnaround shot that went in at the buzzer.
Feb. 24: Oregon State vs. Washington
Perhaps the most thrilling form of buzzer beater is a 3-pointer while down by two, and that’s exactly what Stevie Thompson Jr. did against Washington. Thompson received an inbounds pass under his own basket with a little over three seconds left, sprinted down the court, stopped at the 3-point line and drained a cold-blooded game-winner.
March 6: Northern Iowa vs. Evansville
The Panthers won the Missouri Valley Conference on the back of a Wes Washpun buzzer beater against Evansville. The shot clanked off the back iron but took a fortunate bounce and fell right through the cylinder to earn the trip to the tournament.
March 11: Michigan vs. Indiana
Indiana’s run as the top seed in the Big Ten tournament was short-lived thanks to a Kameron Chatman 3-pointer while buried deep in the corner. Even after hesitating and having a defender draped all over him, Chatman knocked down the shot to send the Wolverines to the semifinals.
March 11: Cincinnati vs. Connecticut
That same day, Connecticut beat Cincinnati in four overtimes in what was perhaps the game of the year. But without a ridiculous beyond-half-court buzzer beater by Jalen Adams at the end of triple overtime, it would have been the Bearcats winning by three and advancing to the AAC semifinals. With less than a second on the clock, Adams received the inbounds pass, took one step, and threw up a prayer that banked in to keep UConn alive.
That wasn’t even all the insanity March 11 had to offer, as Oklahoma’s Buddy Hield also hit an absurd halfcourt shot against West Virginia, but it was waved off after a video review.
March 12: CSU Bakersfield vs. New Mexico State
CSU Bakersfield punched its ticket to the Big Dance with a high-arcing 3-pointer off a beautiful crossover by Dedrick Basile. That shot beat New Mexico State and won the WAC championship for the Roadrunners.
March 19: Northern Iowa vs. Texas
And now we’ve reached the tournament, which featured three buzzer beaters among several other big shots and clutch plays. The first one came in first-round upset fashion, as No. 11 seed Northern Iowa allowed Texas to tie the game before Paul Jesperson received the inbounds pass, dribbled around a couple of defenders, and banked in a halfcourt heave to win it. The buzzer beater was the Panthers’ second in as many games after the MVC championship game winner.
March 20: Wisconsin vs. Xavier
The next day, Bronson Koenig put Wisconsin into the Sweet 16 with a tough falling-away shot in the corner. It’s always very cool when a player falls into his own bench as his game-winning shot drops, getting mobbed a split second later.
April 4: Villanova vs. North Carolina
This shot that needs no introduction, as Villanova’s Kris Jenkins set the basketball world on fire with a trailing 3-pointer off a feed from Ryan Arcidiacano. That was the second championship-winning buzzer beater after NC State’s Lorenzo Charles’ putback slam in 1983.
Nov. 26: Minnesota State-Moorhead vs. Northern State
This one by Division III Minnesota State Moorhead was not one of the prettier plays, but the result was just as good. After passing the ball around the perimeter for quite a while, a Dragons player got the ball stripped but dove to tap it out to a teammate, who dribbled to his right and launched a deep shot that went straight through.
Dec. 6: Morgan State vs. Manhattan
Morgan State forced overtime against Manhattan on a cold-blooded shot by Tiwian Kendley. After the Jaspers hit a 3-pointer to take the lead, Kendley was forced to take a shot from just past halfcourt, which rattled in to keep the game going.
Dec. 12: Berea vs. Birmingham Southern
Berea’s Corey Wise hit one of the shots of the year to knock off Birmingham Southern. After an ill-advised lob to the basket off an inbounds pass was stolen, Wise dribbled to halfcourt, leapt high in the air, and tossed up a dagger that went straight through.
Dec. 16: UMass-Dartmouth vs. MIT
Finally, UMass-Dartmouth beat MIT on a running, one-handed 3-point floater just seconds after MIT took a one-point lead with a shot from the corner. Chris Mendes hit the shot and was subsequently dogpiled at halfcourt by his teammates.