Great Debate: What Is The Greatest College Athletics Game Of All Time?

Villanova players celebrate with the trophy after defeating Pittsburgh, 78-76 during a men's NCAA tournament regional championship college basketball game in  Boston, Saturday, March 28, 2009. Villanova advances to the Final Four. (AP Photo/Elise Amendola)

Villanova players celebrate with the trophy after defeating Pittsburgh, 78-76 during a men's NCAA tournament regional championship college basketball game in Boston, Saturday, March 28, 2009. Villanova advances to the Final Four. (AP Photo/Elise Amendola)

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UNC-‘Nova Most Incredible Championship College Sports Has Ever Seen

by Tyler Crum

Did you see the NCAA March Madness championship game? If not, you shouldn’t feel bad because you’re one of millions of Americans who don’t have cable, would rather watch Major League Baseball’s Opening Day or simply had something else to do on a Monday night. In fact, the Nielsen ratings for Monday’s national title game were down 30 percent from last year’s highly-anticipated Duke-Wisconsin bout, but on the other hand, you did miss one of the greatest college basketball games of all time.

Scratch that — the game was one of the greatest championship games in ALL OF COLLEGE SPORTS.

It was a tremendous clash featuring the Tar Heels of North Carolina and the country’s 11th-ranked offense against an absolutely stifling Villanova defense, which excelled to no end in the tournament. The Wildcat front made the second-seeded Oklahoma Sooners and Naismith Player of the Year Buddy Hield look like a church team after crushing them by 40 in the Final Four.

There were a plethora of storylines going into this game — a blue-blood program versus a talented program that hadn’t won an NCAA championship in 31 years, Nova’s Kris Jenkins squaring off against his adopted brother in Carolina blue Nate Britt and even a battle of memes, pitting the crying Michael Jordan meme against the viral shot from last year’s tourney of the crying Villanova piccolo player.

Plenty of college basketball fans, myself included, were taken aback by just how entertaining the game was, especially considering how utterly let down many people were by a Final Four that capped off one of the craziest years of March Madness with little more than a whimper. Even as the game went on and Nova and UNC kept trading basket after basket, the lead jumping back and forth between the two teams, I fully expected that one team would finally pull ahead on their way to victory.

But both teams refused to give an inch, and the widest margin of separation between the two was just eight points.

Some awful refereeing and issues with turnovers on both sides of the court prevented that game from being an absolute classic for most of the game, but anyone who watched the final minute and a half could tell you that those final seconds cement the game’s place as the greatest championship game in all of college sports.

The chaotic finale was set off by UNC’s Marcus Paige nailing an open three to cut the Wildcat’s lead to just three points, which was followed shortly by a Villanova turnover that led to a North Carolina basket, making it a one-point game.

After the Tar Heels fouled to allow Nova to hit some free throws, it was Paige again who came up huge, hitting home on a double-clutch, desperation three-pointer from Steph Curry-territory to tie the game up, something that seemed improbable just minutes before.

Then, just as Carolina fans were sent into a frenzy as their season was seemingly extended for at least an overtime period, Villanova’s Kris Jenkins ended his storybook junior season with a miraculous three-pointer at the buzzer to win the game and propel him into March Madness glory.

The players on both sides left it all out on the court, and a scenario with two fantastic back-to-back threes in the final six seconds of a game will likely not be repeated with such high stakes for a very long time.

Monday night’s game was filled of the stuff that movies are made about, but there were no heroes, no villains (except for those for those wearing black and white stripes) — just a tremendous story and a wild, goosebump-inducing, heart-pounding conclusion that is undoubtedly one of the greatest of all time.

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2007 Fiesta Bowl Tops March Madness As Greatest College Championship

by Brock Jensen

There are so many reasons I love sports. Watching the NCAA National Championship on Monday just further solidified my already-strong feelings about them.

I mean, this game had it all. I was actually watching the final part of the game in a group study meeting with several people who were probably not as excited as I was. Twice I made them jump out of their seats with exclamations of “Oh my gosh!” — once after Marcus Paige’s double clutch three-pointer and then again when Kris Jenkins hit the three to win the championship.

That game was everything you could hope for and was a fantastic way to end the college basketball season. But was it the greatest college game, regardless of sport, that I have ever seen?

It’s a tough debate, but in my mind there is one game that trumps this crazy ending, a game that had an insane ending of its own. It’s the 2007 Fiesta Bowl game between Boise State and Oklahoma. That is a game I will never forget, and I think it ever-so-slightly trumps this NCAA championship ending.

Don’t get me wrong — I loved Monday’s basketball game, but I just don’t think it competes with all that happened in that Fiesta Bowl matchup. Here at the U, we know the Utes were the first BCS buster to take down a powerhouse school. But Boise State was right there behind Utah to do the same thing.

The Broncos were huge underdogs in this game, going against the Adrian Peterson-led Oklahoma Sooners — something the basketball championships don’t always have. This game had the superstar in it, as well as the classic Cinderella team Nobody really thought the Broncos could take it to one of the best college football programs.

But they did. It’s not just that they won, but it was the fashion they did it in.

Boise State controlled most of the game, only to see its entire lead slip away as the Sooners scored 25 unanswered points in the second half of the game to take the lead 35-28.

A pick-six looked to all but seal the comeback win for Oklahoma with about a minute left in the game. Boise State still had a chance to come back, but after the entire momentum of the game swung to the Sooners, it looked like the Broncos would finish just short of taking down Goliath.

Little did the audience know the fun was just barely getting started. Boise State had an incredible hook-and-ladder play that tied the game up and forced overtime.

Then a halfback pass to score a touchdown in overtime set the stage for one of the most exciting moments and gutsiest calls in sports. I still get the chills just thinking about this play. The Broncos were down by one, and instead of playing it safe and extending the game by kicking the extra point, they decided to go for two and either win the game or lose with a failed attempt.

The Statue of Liberty play, a rarity in college football, was then executed to perfection, and Boise State went on to win.

It was a storybook ending, and I think the game carried a lot of significance because of the state of college football at the time. The BCS door was still shut pretty tight, but as we’ve seen over the past few years, smaller schools have more and more been able to compete with the big boys.

Yes, the basketball game that occurred this week was unbelievable, and there are plenty of reasons why that game may be ranked as the greatest college basketball game — just not the craziest game in all of college sports.

At the end of the day, my thoughts just keep going back to the crazy ending the Fiesta Bowl had and the Bronco underdogs. Both games were among the best I have ever seen, and it’s those games that keep me coming back for more.

This is why I love sports.

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What do you think is the best college athletics game?

Villanova defeating North Carolina on a buzzer-beater
Boise State defeating Oklahoma in double over-time

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