Best buzzer-beaters, finishes in college basketball title game history

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Man reacts hysterically to college basketball buzzer-beater

Let's preface this piece with the fact that I'm an unabashed North Carolina fan. Dad went to school there. Sister did, too. Grew up watching Dean Smith, Pete Chilcutt, King Rice and Rick Fox, and hearing folk tales about Charlie Scott, Phil Ford, Billy Cunningham and Bob McAdoo.

After Villanova's incredible buzzer-beater, I'm a broken man. Woke up twice in the night rolling over that final play. Rehashing snippets of the game where Carolina could've pulled away. It's sports PTSD, and a realization that I still care about outcomes. If I wasn't numb before, I am now.

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Our editors had the demonic idea to create a list of the best finishes in college basketball title game history. The sadists then commissioned me to write it. Initiation for being the new guy at Campus Insiders, I suppose. So here we are, concoting a list of incredible feats, all while Kris Jenkins' final shot and din of cheers and fireworks play on a loop in this godforsaken office.

This group of best buzzer-beaters and finishes was a quick-fire conjuring. Since there are bound to be a billion of these things floating around the Internet in the next 48 hours, here's the most important item to understand for this specific collection: it's more about clutch plays than choke jobs.

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Chris Webber's ill-fated timeout isn't on here. Neither is Michael Jordan's shot in 1982 - Fred Brown's errant pass to James Worthy kept MJ's jumper off the list. Only positive vibes here. Michigan in '89 missed the cut, so did Duke in 2010. When propped up in front of a firing squad and forced to pick five games, somebody's gonna miss the cut.

Okay, let's get to this.

5. Kansas - 2008
Derrick Rose missing the front-end of a pair of free throws that could've sealed the game doesn't constitute choking. Memphis was bad from the line all season long. If anything, the missed shot's significance was magnified by the cumudgeonly Billy Packer, who in his later announcing years would hone in on one facet of a game or player and bludgeon viewers to death with the specific observation.

After Rose knocked down the second free throw to push the game to three, Kansas pushed the ball down the court with 10.8 seconds remaining. Sherron Collins pushed the ball down the court, nearly traveled while stumbling over his feed and handed off to Mario Chalmers, who would then bury a dagger three-pointer from a hair right of the top of the key. Even better, Chalmers' foot was milimeters away from being on the three-point line.

Mario's Miracle pushed the game to overtime, where Kansas steadily pulled away from Memphis. Bill Self claimed his first title as a head coach, and the Jayhawks notched their first championship since Danny and the Miracles 20 years prior.

4. North Carolina - 1957
The 1957 championship game isn't talked about nearly as much as it should be. Really, the entire 1957 Final Four is grossly under-remembered.

Imagine today if we had a title game go to triple overtime. Or if the game's most dominant player - a 7-foot-1 monster among boys - took the jumpball against a guard all because the opposing team knew it stood no chance at winning the tip.

Twitter would fall in on itself. There would be memes galore. And the overnights would be through the roof.

This game had Lennie Rosenbluth and Wilt Chamberlain. The prior was the national player of the year, the latter is arguably the most dominant player in the history of organized basketball.

Toss in that Carolina has survived a triple-overtime game in the semifinals, and this is a contest that would have broken the Internet.

3. Villanova - 2016
The way sports media works these days, we'll probably be injected with endless second-guessing of Carolina's defense on the final play. Roy Williams opens himself up to critics, so when it's time to clamp down there's a feeding frenzy about not guarding the inbounds on that last play.

Kris Jenkins' shot was absolutely incredible. It's the reason we watch sports. Consider everything that had transpired in the 90 seconds before that shot.

Villanova, who had executed to near perfection in the second half, was rattled. Ryan Arcidiacono threw the ball away, Carolina was bailed out on some bad decisions, and Marcus Paige hit a game-tying three that would've broken the back of any other team in the country. That Villanova was able to respond to such a deflating play is a testament to Jay Wright and how well-coached the Wildcats were.

The final play went exactly how Wright drew it up in the huddle, and Jenkins buried it. The only reason this isn't higer on the list is because if Jenkins had missed the game would've still gone to overtime. Still, it takes ice water in the veins to drop a shot that significant. It's only fitting that with Rollie Massamino watching in the crowd, Villanova won another title in thrilling fashion. Big money play, wild finish.

2. Indiana - 1987
The end sequence of the 1987 game was pretty fascinating. Up one, Syracuse's Derrick Coleman hit the front of the iron with a free throw that would've given the Orange a two-point lead.

As Indiana dribbled the ball up, Jim Boeheim elected to put Sherman Douglass on Steve Alford, a first team All-American who was 7-for-10 from long distance that game. Boeheim also elected to steer away from the 2-3 zone and play that final possession in straight man-to-man.

Two well-coached teams jostled for an edge for the better part of 20 seconds, and with Alford bottled up it was up to Keith Smart to make a play. He curled around the left elbow and passed off to Daryl Thomas, who was immediately bottled up. With time dwindling down, Thomas gave the ball back to Smart who took a left-leaning jumper from the baseline that found nothing but the bottom of the bucket.

In all the pandemonium, Syracuse wasted about 2.5 seconds before finally stopping the clock with one second to go. Indiana would intercept the inbounds pass and collect the title. Keith Smart would earn a place in One Shining Moment montages for eternity.

1. NC State - 1983
There was no other choice. Lorenzo Charles slamming home an airball (or pass depending on your purview) from Dereck Whittenburg is the indelible image of March Madness.

Time is running down, player A heaves the ball toward the basket. All eyes look toward the shot except for Player B, who flushes while everyone else in the arena sits frozen in a stupor. The charismatic coach runs around looking for somebody to hug. It's the scenario we all play out as children when practicing and pretending on backyard hoops.

Add in that NC State was a No. 6 seed and took down a stacked Houston team that hadn't lost since December, and this one had it all. The tragically premature deaths of Charles and Jim Valvano have only grown the legacy of this fantastic finish.

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Best buzzer-beaters, finishes in college basketball title game history
Tipoff of UNC's game against Villanova in the final of the 2016 NCAA Division I Men's Basketball Championship on Monday, April 4, 2016, at NRG Stadium in Houston. (Ethan Hyman/Raleigh News & Observer/TNS via Getty Images)
HOUSTON, TEXAS - APRIL 04: North Carolina Tar Heels fans cheer in the first half during the 2016 NCAA Men's Final Four National Championship game between the Villanova Wildcats and the North Carolina Tar Heels at NRG Stadium on April 4, 2016 in Houston, Texas. (Photo by Scott Halleran/Getty Images)
HOUSTON, TEXAS - APRIL 04: The North Carolina Tar Heels stand on the court prior to the 2016 NCAA Men's Final Four National Championship game against the Villanova Wildcats at NRG Stadium on April 4, 2016 in Houston, Texas. (Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)
HOUSTON, TEXAS - APRIL 04: A general view of the court prior to the 2016 NCAA Men's Final Four National Championship game between the Villanova Wildcats and the North Carolina Tar Heels at NRG Stadium on April 4, 2016 in Houston, Texas. (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)
HOUSTON, TEXAS - APRIL 04: A general view as retired Naval Petty Officer, 1st Class, Generald Wilson looks on prior to the 2016 NCAA Men's Final Four National Championship game between the Villanova Wildcats and the North Carolina Tar Heels at NRG Stadium on April 4, 2016 in Houston, Texas. (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)
HOUSTON, TEXAS - APRIL 04: Brice Johnson #11 of the North Carolina Tar Heels and Daniel Ochefu #23 of the Villanova Wildcats battle for the opening tip-off during the 2016 NCAA Men's Final Four National Championship game at NRG Stadium on April 4, 2016 in Houston, Texas. (Photo by Scott Halleran/Getty Images)
HOUSTON, TEXAS - APRIL 04: Ryan Arcidiacono #15 of the Villanova Wildcats drives against Joel Berry II #2 of the North Carolina Tar Heels in the first half during the 2016 NCAA Men's Final Four National Championship game at NRG Stadium on April 4, 2016 in Houston, Texas. (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)
HOUSTON, TEXAS - APRIL 04: Jalen Brunson #1 of the Villanova Wildcats shoots the ball in the first half against the North Carolina Tar Heels during the 2016 NCAA Men's Final Four National Championship game at NRG Stadium on April 4, 2016 in Houston, Texas. (Photo by Pool - Robert Deutsch/Getty Images)
HOUSTON, TEXAS - APRIL 04: Josh Hart #3 of the Villanova Wildcats handles the ball against Justin Jackson #44 of the North Carolina Tar Heels in the first half during the 2016 NCAA Men's Final Four National Championship game at NRG Stadium on April 4, 2016 in Houston, Texas. (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)
HOUSTON, TEXAS - APRIL 04: Ryan Arcidiacono #15 of the Villanova Wildcats (L) high fives Jalen Brunson #1 prior to the 2016 NCAA Men's Final Four National Championship game against the North Carolina Tar Heels at NRG Stadium on April 4, 2016 in Houston, Texas. (Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)
HOUSTON, TEXAS - APRIL 04: Mikal Bridges #25 of the Villanova Wildcats, Josh Hart #3, and Kennedy Meeks #3 of the North Carolina Tar Heels watch the ball in the first half during the 2016 NCAA Men's Final Four National Championship game at NRG Stadium on April 4, 2016 in Houston, Texas. (Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)
HOUSTON, TEXAS - APRIL 04: Brice Johnson #11 of the North Carolina Tar Heels dunks the ball in the first half against the Villanova Wildcats during the 2016 NCAA Men's Final Four National Championship game at NRG Stadium on April 4, 2016 in Houston, Texas. (Photo by Pool - Chris Steppig/Getty Images)
HOUSTON, TEXAS - APRIL 04: Brice Johnson #11 of the North Carolina Tar Heels looks on in the first half against the Villanova Wildcats during the 2016 NCAA Men's Final Four National Championship game at NRG Stadium on April 4, 2016 in Houston, Texas. (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)
HOUSTON, TEXAS - APRIL 04: Brice Johnson #11 of the North Carolina Tar Heels shoots the ball in the first half against the Villanova Wildcats during the 2016 NCAA Men's Final Four National Championship game at NRG Stadium on April 4, 2016 in Houston, Texas. (Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)
HOUSTON, TEXAS - APRIL 04: Marcus Paige #5 of the North Carolina Tar Heels reacts in the first half against the Villanova Wildcats during the 2016 NCAA Men's Final Four National Championship game at NRG Stadium on April 4, 2016 in Houston, Texas. (Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)
HOUSTON, TEXAS - APRIL 04: North Carolina Tar Heels fans cheer in the first half during the 2016 NCAA Men's Final Four National Championship game between the Villanova Wildcats and the North Carolina Tar Heels at NRG Stadium on April 4, 2016 in Houston, Texas. (Photo by Scott Halleran/Getty Images)
HOUSTON, TEXAS - APRIL 04: Daniel Ochefu #23 of the Villanova Wildcats dunks the ball against Marcus Paige #5 of the North Carolina Tar Heels in the first half during the 2016 NCAA Men's Final Four National Championship game at NRG Stadium on April 4, 2016 in Houston, Texas. (Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)
HOUSTON, TEXAS - APRIL 04: Head coach Jay Wright of the Villanova Wildcats reacts in the first half against the North Carolina Tar Heels during the 2016 NCAA Men's Final Four National Championship game at NRG Stadium on April 4, 2016 in Houston, Texas. (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)
HOUSTON, TEXAS - APRIL 04: Ryan Arcidiacono #15 of the Villanova Wildcats reacts in the first half against the North Carolina Tar Heels during the 2016 NCAA Men's Final Four National Championship game at NRG Stadium on April 4, 2016 in Houston, Texas. (Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)
HOUSTON, TEXAS - APRIL 04: Phil Booth #5 of the Villanova Wildcats dribbles the ball in the first half against the North Carolina Tar Heels during the 2016 NCAA Men's Final Four National Championship game at NRG Stadium on April 4, 2016 in Houston, Texas. (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)
HOUSTON, TEXAS - APRIL 04: Josh Hart #3 of the Villanova Wildcats handles the ball as Isaiah Hicks #4 of the North Carolina Tar Heels looks on in the first half of the 2016 NCAA Men's Final Four National Championship game at NRG Stadium on April 4, 2016 in Houston, Texas. (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)
HOUSTON, TEXAS - APRIL 04: Josh Hart #3 of the Villanova Wildcats handles the ball against Isaiah Hicks #4 of the North Carolina Tar Heels in the first half of the 2016 NCAA Men's Final Four National Championship game at NRG Stadium on April 4, 2016 in Houston, Texas. (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)
HOUSTON, TEXAS - APRIL 04: North Carolina Tar Heels fans cheer in the first half during the 2016 NCAA Men's Final Four National Championship game between the Villanova Wildcats and the North Carolina Tar Heels at NRG Stadium on April 4, 2016 in Houston, Texas. (Photo by Scott Halleran/Getty Images)
Apr 4, 2016; Houston, TX, USA; Villanova Wildcats forward Daniel Ochefu (23) drives against North Carolina Tar Heels forward Brice Johnson (11) in the first half in the championship game of the 2016 NCAA Men's Final Four at NRG Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Robert Deutsch-USA TODAY Sports
HOUSTON, TEXAS - APRIL 04: Daniel Ochefu #23 of the Villanova Wildcats and Kennedy Meeks #3 of the North Carolina Tar Heels fight for the ball in the second half of the 2016 NCAA Men's Final Four National Championship game at NRG Stadium on April 4, 2016 in Houston, Texas. (Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)
HOUSTON, TEXAS - APRIL 04: Mikal Bridges #25 of the Villanova Wildcats reacts in the second half against the North Carolina Tar Heels during the 2016 NCAA Men's Final Four National Championship game at NRG Stadium on April 4, 2016 in Houston, Texas. (Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)
HOUSTON, TEXAS - APRIL 04: Ryan Arcidiacono #15 of the Villanova Wildcats (C) reacts in the second half against the North Carolina Tar Heels during the 2016 NCAA Men's Final Four National Championship game at NRG Stadium on April 4, 2016 in Houston, Texas. (Photo by Scott Halleran/Getty Images)
Apr 4, 2016; Houston, TX, USA; North Carolina Tar Heels guard Marcus Paige (5) shoots the ball against Villanova Wildcats guard Ryan Arcidiacono (15) during the second half in the championship game of the 2016 NCAA Men's Final Four at NRG Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports
Apr 4, 2016; Houston, TX, USA; Villanova Wildcats forward Kris Jenkins (2) hits the game winning shot with .6 seconds over North Carolina Tar Heels forward Isaiah Hicks (4) in the championship game of the 2016 NCAA Men's Final Four at NRG Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports
Apr 4, 2016; Houston, TX, USA; Villanova Wildcats forward Kris Jenkins (2) shoots the game-winning shot over North Carolina Tar Heels forward Isaiah Hicks (4) in the second half in the championship game of the 2016 NCAA Men's Final Four at NRG Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Robert Deutsch-USA TODAY Sports
Apr 4, 2016; Houston, TX, USA; Villanova Wildcats forward Kris Jenkins (2) celebrates with teammates after making the game-winning shot against the North Carolina Tar Heels in the championship game of the 2016 NCAA Men's Final Four at NRG Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Robert Deutsch-USA TODAY Sports
Apr 4, 2016; Houston, TX, USA; Villanova Wildcats celebrate their win over North Carolina Tar Heels in the championship game of the 2016 NCAA Men's Final Four at NRG Stadium. Villanova won 77-74. Mandatory Credit: Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports
HOUSTON, TEXAS - APRIL 04: Ryan Arcidiacono #15 of the Villanova Wildcats celebrates defeating the North Carolina Tar Heels 77-74 to win the 2016 NCAA Men's Final Four National Championship game at NRG Stadium on April 4, 2016 in Houston, Texas. (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)
HOUSTON, TEXAS - APRIL 04: Ryan Arcidiacono #15 of the Villanova Wildcats celebrates with Phil Booth #5 and Mikal Bridges #25 after defeating the North Carolina Tar Heels 77-74 to win the 2016 NCAA Men's Final Four National Championship game at NRG Stadium on April 4, 2016 in Houston, Texas. (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)
HOUSTON, TEXAS - APRIL 04: The Villanova Wildcats celebrate defeating the North Carolina Tar Heels 77-74 to win the 2016 NCAA Men's Final Four National Championship game at NRG Stadium on April 4, 2016 in Houston, Texas. (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)
HOUSTON, TEXAS - APRIL 04: Daniel Ochefu #23 of the Villanova Wildcats (C) hoists the trophy after the Villanova Wildcats defeat the North Carolina Tar Heels 77-74 to win the 2016 NCAA Men's Final Four National Championship game at NRG Stadium on April 4, 2016 in Houston, Texas. (Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)
HOUSTON, TEXAS - APRIL 04: Ryan Arcidiacono #15 of the Villanova Wildcats celebrates with the trophy after defeating the North Carolina Tar Heels 77-74 to win the 2016 NCAA Men's Final Four National Championship game at NRG Stadium on April 4, 2016 in Houston, Texas. (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)
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