75 years of March Madness: Top 10 buzzer-beaters

Villanova's Scottie Reynolds scores the winning layup against Pitt to advance to the Final Four in 2009. (Getty Images)


Clutch shots.

Lucky bounces.

Hail Mary plays.


Whatever you want to call them they are the stuff legends are made of and the moments we live for in the NCAA tournament. Some required intense final-second play planning and others, a little bit of luck. The one thing all of the moments on our 75 years of March Madness: Top 10 buzzer-beaters list have in common is they occurred with an average of 4.7 seconds on the clock and stole our hearts away.

1. Christian Laettner -- Duke, 1992, Elite Eight

With 2.1 seconds left, a cool, calm and collected coach Mike Krzyzewski drew up the play that called for Grant Hill to make the inbounds and Laettner to make the shot that would enable Duke Blue Devils  to eventually become the first repeat champion since UCLA Bruins in 1973. Laettner could not miss that night. He was 9 for 9 from the field and 10 for 10 from the foul line against Kentucky Wildcats . His hot streak continued as he caught the ball with his back to the basket, then had the guts to dribble and shimmy shake for a turn-around jumper to hit the shot that shook up the nation and landed at No. 1 on our list.

2. Lorenzo Charles -- NC State, 1983, national championship 

The leaders of Phi Slamma Jamma, Hakeem Olajuwon and Clyde Drexler, defied gravity all tournament long to make the Houston Cougars the favorite to win the national championship.

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Tied with 14 seconds to go, NC State played a game of halfcourt monkey in the middle, topped off with a desperation air ball by Charles Wittenberg from eight feet behind the arc. With a second left, Charles snatched the ball out of the air and dunked it for the win. After one of the most famous air balls in college basketball, NC State Wolfpack coach Jim Valvano ran onto the floor in another famous moment looking for some love in a blissful moment of chaos.

3. Mario Chalmers -- Kansas2008, national championship

A young Derrick Rose took over the game by scoring 14 of Memphis Tigers ’ 16 points in eight minutes. Then Kansas Jayhawks ’ rally, combined with Memphis’ inability to hit 4 of 5 free throws in the last 75 seconds, set the tone for Chalmers’ heroics. While the Jayhawks were down by three, Sherron Collins, defended by Rose, nearly lost the ball driving up the court and dished to Chalmers for an off-kilter 3. Chalmers hit the 3 with two seconds left to send the game into overtime, where the Jayhawks would win the national championship.

4. Bryce Drew -- Valparaiso1998, first round

Valparaiso Crusaders , a 13 seed, was up against powerhouse No. 4 Ole Miss Rebels  and down by two with just 2.5 seconds to go the length of the court. Drew and his teammates had practiced this play all year, so they were ready for this big stage. The inbounds pass hit the relay man, who tapped it to Drew. While defenders were fooled by the middleman, Drew hit an open 3-pointer to win the game. The win had even greater significance because Drew’s father, Homer Drew, was also his coach.

5. Tyus Edney -- UCLA, 1995, second round

In the words of Yogi Berra, “it was déjà vu all over again” as UCLA Bruins 's Edney executed an almost mirror image of Danny Ainge’s play from 15 years earlier. Down by one with 4.8 seconds to go, he went coast to coast, dribbled behind the back and through two Missouri Tigers defenders to hit a shot high off the glass to send Missouri packing.

6. Danny Ainge -- BYU, 1981, Sweet Sixteen

Eight seconds was plenty of time for Ainge to push the ball up the floor from basket to basket, dribble behind his back through a flurry of Notre Dame Fighting Irish defenders and score the winning basket for Brigham Young Cougars . Notre Dame players must have been in so much awe of Ainge’s play that no one really tried to stop his run. Till this day, analysts are perplexed as to what defense the Fighting Irish were in or if they had one at all.

7. U.S. Reed -- Arkansas, 1981, second round

This is the shot that we’ve all practiced in the driveway or at the local park. With three seconds on the clock, Arkansas Razorbacks ' Reed chucked up a halfcourt Hail Mary shot over Louisville Cardinals to shock the basketball world.

8. Tate George -- Connecticut, 1990, Sweet Sixteen

Scott Burrell, the Connecticut Huskies small forward inbounding the ball, had a secret up his sleeve -- his rocket arm. The Seattle Mariners recruited Burrell as a pitcher. Coach Jim Calhoun knew he could make the crosscourt pass. With one second left on the clock, Burrell made the pass, and George seem to defy the laws of physics when he caught it and hit the turnaround jumper to win the game to defeat Clemson.

9. Scottie Reynolds -- Villanova, 2009, Elite Eight

With 5.5 seconds remaining and the scored tied at 76, Villanova Wildcats guard Reynolds did the unthinkable. He went coast to coast through Pittsburgh Panthers defenders to score the winning layup as time expired. This play was actually attempted seconds before and failed, but the team’s confidence in Williams to get the inbound pass right and Reynolds’ speed gave it the victory.

10. Jerome Whitehead --Marquette, 1977, Final Four

With the score tied at 49 and three seconds left, Marquette Golden Eagles coach Al McGuire eyed the height of the scoreboard to make sure the Hail Mary inbounds pass he was planning would work. Butch Lee tossed the ball with the accuracy of an NFL quarterback right into the hands of Whitehead in the paint for the layup.

Who did we miss on the list of buzzer-beaters? Make your voice heard in the comment section below or on Twitter @Hoopsoncbs with #MM75. You can also follow Adena Andrews on Twitter @adena_andrews

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