It's hard to see how 2017 can top what 2016 provided us. It was an incredible year for college basketball, for good and bad -- but mostly the really, really good.

Here are the moments you might've forgotten about and the endings you'll never forget. The year in college basketball -- big and small, funny and serious, happy and sad, entertaining and epic -- in 2016.

46. Michael Phelps comes out of nowhere to be part of the Curtain of Distraction

This was so great. Phelps, who trained at Arizona State in the lead-up to the 2016 Olympics, went all in. Speedo, fake medals, swim cap, the whole thing. Months before he achieved galactic immortality with five more gold medals (he's won 28 medals in his Olympic career, 23 of them golds) in Rio, he hopped in on some college fun. Make an appearance again this season, Michael.

45. Wayne Selden's uncle experiences spiritual rebirth after his nephew's dunk

To be fair, this slam by Selden could make any man so close to it seed God. Selden's uncle Anthony damn near was taken to a different plane of existence with this throwdown. I know Selden's moved on from KU, but get uncle Anthony back in the building for this year's Big 12 tourney.

44. Wily Wes Washpun wins the MVC title

So, Northern Iowa is on this list three times. The Panthers had an unforgettable March. The nature of this winner -- that casual bounce off the back of the iron, then the ball falling through with simple gravitational pull -- is something I've watched at least 50 times. In most instances, this shot doesn't fall; it caroms away. Arch Madness is good-to-great every year. This won the championship and sent UNI to the dance. Everyone knows about the buzzer-beater that ended the 2016 postseason. This was the one that started it.

43. Bill Murray becomes a superfan of his son's Xavier team

We'll get more of this in 2017, as Xavier should round into form and turn itself into a top-five seed come Selection Sunday. Murray's son, Luke, is an assistant at Xavier. He's also a good coach. And it's cool to see Pops thrown on Musketeer gear and be part of the Madness. The downside: Xavier's buzzer-beating loss prompted Sad Bill Murray, something the world should never be subjected to.

42. Gregg Marshall's bizarre blowup in Canada

August is the slowest month on the calendar for college basketball. That's a good and a bad thing. We college hoops writers welcome a break after the slog and travel of the July recruiting circuit. But some thanks to Gregg Marshall, who got so heated with two refs that he was suspended for an exhibition game by his own interim athletic director. I bet you forgot about this one.

41. Sean Miller on court storming: "An Arizona player is going to punch a fan"

Sean Miller's built up a big-time program, and every time a home team in that league upsets Zona when it's ranked in the top 10, fans want to flood the floor. This happened when Colorado knocked off U of A 75-72 last season. Afterward, the urgent scene on the floor prompted Miller to take issue with the Pac-12 not having enough personnel on site to resist court-storming, and he also lacking proper protocol to protect both teams in the event of a floor-storm. The quotes were powerful and remain true. Miller predicts a college player will get violent with a fan eventually, and he's right. It's inevitable.

40. Duquesne gets stuck in epic snowstorm for nearly 24 hours

Some offbeat stories appearing on the list here, because every college basketball season offers up some strange events. Being that basketball is a mostly winter sport, any veteran coach has a laundry list of travel nightmares to share. They get better and more exaggerated by the year, but Duquesne and coach Jim Ferry have an all-timer. Winter storm Jonas kept them in the cold, on the bus, for more than 30 hours. At a certain point it goes from fun weather delay to desperate living situation.

39. George Washington fires Mike Lonergan

The termination of Lonergan was unusual. Coaches almost never lose their jobs in September. But an explosive report by the Washington Post in July prompted an independent investigation from George Washington. Lonergan, who is in the process of pending litigation against his former employer, was alleged to have treated players unfairly, used inappropriate language and was verbally and emotionally abusive to those in GW uniforms. He was replaced by current interim Maurice Joseph. GW is 8-5 this season.

38. Emmanuel Omogbo's family dies in a house fire

A devastating story, one I found myself thinking about this holiday season. It was a year ago that Omogbo, a Nigerian-born player who's now a senior at Colorado State, was celebrating Christmas with his family. Mom and dad, nice and nephew. It would be the last time he ever saw them.

An incredible GoFundMe campaign in the days that followed -- prompted in good part by Scott Van Pelt -- led to more than $100,000 in donations. The initial goal was $10,000.

Here were the remains of Omogbo's home.

Omogbo's heartbreaking story reached people around the world. Kobe Bryant even sent a personalized message to him in the days following the funeral.

An excerpt from the story linked above:

Emmanuel was awakened at 5 a.m. MT on Tuesday morning by a phone call from an unknown number. He turned his phone over and didn't answer. Seconds later another call came in; it was his brother, Sam. But again, Emmanuel didn't answer. When Sam called once more, Emmanuel picked up.

"Man, you know I have class in the morning," Emmanuel said.

Then Sam told him only about the fire. He was shady with the details of his parents' fates and with what happened to the twins.

"He tried to keep it from me, first telling me that the house caught on fire," he said. "The first thing I thought about was my parents and the twins. And I was like, 'Where's Mom and Dad?'"

He hung up and immediately called his father. It went straight to voicemail.

Emmanuel called his mother. Straight to voicemail.

He called Christiana.

Straight to voicemail.

He called Elizabeth.

Straight to voicemail.

Because the phones were all melted or destroyed in the fire.

37. Grayson Allen's first tripping incident

This is a list of the biggest news items in college basketball in 2016. Every Grayson Allen tripping incident qualifies. The first came against Louisville's Ray Spalding. He earned a flagrant 1 for this and didn't score the rest of the game.

36. Larry Brown quits on SMU

A contract dispute led to Brown up and leaving the program at the start of the critical July live period, thus handing the controls over to the plenty-capable Tim Jankovich. Gary Parrish and I were at Peach Jam when this happened. Just a WTF moment in the midst of the recruiting circuit. Check how GP started his column that day. Fire.

In the end, it was all so predictable -- first the winning, then the NCAA scandal and, finally, the abrupt resignation that leaves a basketball program in an awkward spot.

Larry Brown followed the Larry Brown model step-by-step.

Bravo, sir.

I'd say you outdid yourself but you really just did yourself.

35. Duke's injuries make for bittersweet start to 2016-17 season

Duke being the undisputed No. 1 team in the preseason, then taking on injury setbacks to projected lottery pick Harry Giles, and then projected lottery pick Marques Bolden, and then projected lottery pick Jayson Tatum ... well it made for one big tease to start 2016-17. All are healthy now, but Duke's injury situation was one of the biggest stories in college basketball from about Oct. 25 through Dec. 10. With Allen's suspension and Giles not earning real minutes yet, we're still waiting to see Duke at full capability.

34. Josh Jackson commits to Kansas

It was split between Jackson and Giles as the No. 1 recruit in the class of 2016. Well, Giles committed to Duke in 2015, so the biggest commitment for the 2016 class in the year of 2016 was Jackson picking Bill Self's program. He's been a difference-maker so far, ranking as a top-five freshman of impact to this point in the season and averaging 15.6 points and 6.5 rebounds.

At the time of Jackson's commitment I wrote, "Kansas just entered the conversation for the 2017 national title," which is something I meant. I picked KU in the preseason to win the title, and I'm sticking by that prediction even now.

33. Josh Hagins' Curry-ish 3-pointer extends first round game to double OT; Little Rock wins

This was the first tremendous game of the 2016 tournament. Little Rock, big stones.

Purdue blew a 13-point lead in the final 3 1/2 minutes. Another 5 victimized by a 12.

"I'm a senior," Hagins said that day. "I've waited 22 years, to be honest, to get to this point, this one game. I wasn't going to go out like that. I wasn't going to go without a fight. I made shots, missed them. I was going to go out swinging."

32. Oregon State's Jarmal Reid intentionally trips referee


And you know what? This is so much worse than any singular Allen violation. This is explicitly malicious. Reid glances up at Tommy Nunez then sticks out his tree trunk. Down goes Nunez. Despicable stuff. OSU was in a tie game late when this went down; it subsequently lost. Reid was suspended for four games.

31. Fort Wayne upsets Indiana; Jon Coffman gives a memorable postgame interview

A unique scene. For the first time ever, Indiana traveled to Fort Wayne to play the Mastadons. The game was in Fort Wayne's gym, but 90 percent of the fans were pulling for the Hoosiers. Fort Wayne wins 71-68 in OT in a beauty of a contest. Afterward, coach Jon Coffman gave a terrific postgame interview in which he put into perspective what the victory meant for the city of Fort Wayne -- and thanked IU coach Tom Crean in the process.

"They'll be talking about Indiana coming to Fort Wayne for the next 50 years."

30. Yale and Stony Brook break through to the NCAAs

Every year we have at least one team get to the NCAA Tournament for the first time in its history. There are 351 Division I programs, and a big fraction of them have still never earned a ticket. So it's always great to see those tiny schools, year by year, finally get their first chance. In Stony Brook's case, the program had been built from nothing, then gotten so close in recent years, and finally made it.

For Yale, it was the first trip in more than 50 years. But it came with controversy. The backdrop on Yale's run was the expulsion of team captain Jack Montague, who was forced to leave the team and have his college career end amid a sexual misconduct case. Montague, who was never charged with a crime, has since brought a lawsuit against Yale.

29. UCLA upsets Kentucky, makes its return to national relevance

UCLA's 97-92 win at Kentucky amounts to one of the most surprising outcomes this season. John Calipari almost never loses a game at Rupp Arena. UCLA had been good to that point, but dropping 97 on a Wildcats team aspiring to be the best defensive group in the nation was alarming. Bruins freshman T.J. Leaf had his coming-out party. Lonzo Ball and De'Aaron Fox both showed why they should be top-10 picks come June. The win amounts to what I still think is the most impressive victory for any team so far in 2016-17. The win also put UCLA in the mix for 2017 title contender and solidified the program's return to national relevance.

Lonzo Ball/UCLA's emergence has made for a big story in college hoops this season. USATSI

28. Andrew Smith dies

Smith will forever be a hero at Butler and in the Indianapolis community. He battled cancer multiple times and ultimately passed on, 25 years young, less than two weeks into 2016. His death resonated throughout college basketball. Andrew and his widow, Sam, were honored at the Final Four with the United States Basketball Writers Association's Most Courageous Award. It was the first time the award was given to two people, one of whom was not directly involved in college basketball. The decision by the USBWA voting board was rightfully unanimous, and Smith's spirit lives on.

As we draw closer to the one-year anniversary of his death, I'm as insistent now as I was more than 11 months ago: Butler should permanently hang Smith's 44 in the rafters at Hinkle Fieldhouse. It was a terrible year for Butler off the floor, as Smith was not the only death connected with the program. Former Bulldog Joel Cornette died in August, and Butler assistant Emerson Kampen lost his eight-month-old boy to Leigh's disease.

27. Seton Hall upsets Villanova, memorably wins its first Big East title in 23 years

This is still the last time Villanova lost a game. Seton Hall went 12-2 down the stretch of Big East play and pulled off a tremendous 69-67 win inside Madison Square Garden over Jay Wright and Co. to earn the auto bid. The Big East has had a number of memorable tourney runs over the years. UConn has a couple, as do Syracuse, Pitt and Georgetown. And we shouldn't forget Providence winning it for "the old Big East" back in 2014. Of this I'm sure: the Hall's three wins in three nights deserves to be considered among the five or six best/most unexpected runs in the history of the storied, annual basketball brouhaha inside the halls of MSG.

26. Pearl Washington dies

One of the most important, influential and entertaining players in the history of the Big East. Some might say the most important, influential and entertaining player ever in that conference. He battled brain cancer and rallied the city in his spirit in his final years and months. Jim Boeheim cried in a press conference on the day of his death. Washington's passing was one of the biggest stories of college basketball's offseason. Last week, Syracuse honored their late star with a number of tremendous tributes. I highly suggest you check them out.

25. DeAndre Ayton commits to Arizona

If Josh Jackson was the biggest 2016 recruit to commit this year, then Ayton, the No. 1 player in the class of 2017, is the biggest in his group. The fact he picked Arizona is also interesting. Miller's been a top-three recruiter (right there with Cal and Coach K) for five years now, but Ayton is the biggest fish he's ever landed. Arizona will almost definitely be a preseason top 10 team next season no matter what the Wildcats do, or who they lose, later this year. Ayton has been compared to a blend of Kevin Garnett and Tim Duncan. Those comparisons are silly and unfair to the kid, but in terms of his potential and the style of his game, they are in the ballpark of what he can be and what he does. Next year's freshman class isn't nearly as good as what we've got now, but Ayton could be as good as any first-year college hoops player in 2016-17.

24. NBA's CBA opts to keep age limit at 19, one-and-done protocol will continue

Might seem like an oh-by-the way headline, but the reality is the NBA recently decided to continue dictating how college basketball works. It's a big story for its long-term effects on the college game, and therefore it's one of the most significant NCAA headlines in 2016. For my thoughts on the matter, head here. In short: The system can never and will never be perfect, and the arrangement we have now does seem to work to optimal-as-can-be outcomes for both the NBA and college basketball. The NBA holds the right to tweak its age minimum at any point in the next six years of its CBA, but my guess is the rule doesn't get amended.

23. SMU, ineligible for NCAA tourney, is the last undefeated team in 2015-16

Remember how this was an interesting story line for the better part of a month last season? SMU was on a postseason ban because of a former player using a tutor for summer coursework. This led to Larry Brown being suspended to start the season as well, and yet SMU didn't slow a bit. The Ponies got off to an 18-0 start. They were the last unbeaten team in America. I don't think anyone thought SMU was really going to make it through the season undefeated, but they made it interesting -- and uncomfortable -- for the NCAA for a few weeks there. The Mustangs finished No. 16 in KenPom's ratings. My guess is they would've been a 4 seed had they been eligible for the NCAA tourney.

22. "How does YALE out-rebound BAYLOR?"

Bow down to the GOAT of all player-response NCAA Tournament press conference answers. No. 5 Baylor was upended by No. 12 Yale in the first round. Taurean Prince, who's now earning an NBA paycheck while playing for the Atlanta Hawks, schooled a poor member of the press by going literal -- and subsequently viral. It's entirely possible I'm ranking this moment 10-12 spots too low.

21. Grayson Allen's second tripping incident

This one happened to Florida State's Xavier Rathan-Mayes, and it's the weirdest of the three. It also prompted Allen tripping memes and caused the ACC to publicly reprimand Allen for the act -- after Mike Krzyzewski neglected to publicly punish his player. This was also the highlight that put gasoline on the fire behind the "Grayson Allen is the next truly hated Duke player" conversation. It's a conversation that sucks, but it's something that's very real. You and I both know people who actually despise Allen because he's white and plays for Duke. The tripping is just the vehicle to get them to that place.

2o. Tom Izzo inducted into the Naismith Memorial Hall of Fame

Any time college basketball gets an active coach into the Hall, it's a very big deal. Izzo is now one of six in that category (Mike Krzyzewski, Jim Boeheim, Roy Williams, Rick Pitino and John Calipari). The Hall of Fame ceremony for basketball always happens on a Friday at the start of football season, so it tends to get lost in the news cycle. If you missed what Izzo said, you can read the story here. Izzo had a big year. His MSU team, led by Player of the Year Denzel Valentine, was a wild team to follow. (Uh, more on that below!) Izzo also landed the best recruiting class in his coaching career, and he's endured one hell of a tough start to 2016-17 due to injuries, travel and an incredibly tough non-con slate.

19. Ben Simmons' polarizing college basketball career ends in disappointment

He was by far the best freshman last season. He became the No. 1 pick. His official draft announcement actually came eight days after LSU's underwhelming, dispiriting season ended. But everyone knew Simmons had one eye on the NBA his entire season with the Tigers. So it's all the more impressive that he was so damn good, even if his team wasn't. Simmons finished his college career averaging 19.2 points, 11.8 rebounds, 4.8 assists, 2.0 steals and a superb PER of 29.0.

But no NCAA Tournament. And a bizarre college legacy that I maintain will stick with him to a certain degree no matter what he winds up becoming as an NBA player.

Simmons' college career will be remembered for how great he was but how bad LSU stayed. USATSI

18. Kansas beats Kentucky in OT in a Saturday night January classic

I was there. It was LOUD. My god, it was so, so loud. One of the five best games I've ever attended, and it was a top-five game overall of the 2015-16 regular season. (The best game? Keeeeeep scrollin'.) Kentucky and Kansas gave us an epic at the Phog. KU was ranked No. 4 at the time. Kentucky was 20th. Tyler Ulis went for 26 points. UK shot 72 percent from 2-point range. Wayne Selden had the best game of his college career, putting up 33 points and lifting KU to a win that would help embolden its chances to a No. 1 seed.

Diehard college hoops fans will remember that, earlier in the day, Oklahoma defeated LSU in a big-time game wherein Buddy Hield scored 32 and maintained firm control of the Player of the Year race vs. Denzel Valentine. That game was the nail entering LSU's coffin.

17. NCAA pulls tournament out of North Carolina

The NCAA tourney is played in North Carolina almost every single year. Other than California, no other state can claim the same. North Carolina is a hotbed for hoops, and it's got everything from blue bloods (Duke, Carolina) to consistent fan favorites (Davidson) to small school with real passion (UNC Wilmington). To take the tournament outside of state borders -- and essentially threaten to keep it that way until legislation changes -- was a massive move by the NCAA.

But North Carolina's House Bill 2, which is discriminatory toward transgender people, catalyzed the NCAA to do something about it. North Carolina's first round site for 2017 was subsequently moved to Greenville, S.C. Pat McRory was the North Carolina governor who put the bill in place. He was voted out of office in the recent election. An attempt to repeal the bill failed last week. Until it changes, don't expect the NCAA to hold any championship for any sport in North Carolina.

16. Notre Dame's Matt Farrell surprised at Christmastime by his brother in the military

Think this is too high? Absolutely not. These military family reunions never get old, even if they seem more predictable by the year. But who cares? This is so heartwarming. Plus, few college basketball stories -- outside of who wins the national title -- make the national nightly news and morning talk shows. This one did.

15. Koenig's killer from the corner kicks Xavier out of the tournament

Now we're really entering into the big games and memorable endings portion of the program. Here, a 7 over a 2. Last year's NCAA Tournament had four true buzzer-beaters win games. That's a record. This was one of them. Wisconsin beat Xavier 66-63 on this vintage winner by Bronson Koenig. The Badgers went on to the Sweet 16. Xavier, which was a top-10 team most of last season, went out dramatically and, as shown above, prompted Sad Bill Murray.

14. Mike Krzyewski lectures Dillon Brooks, then fudges about what he said

It started with Brooks and Grayson Allen having an awkward encounter at the end of Oregon's dominant 82-68 win in the Sweet 16. Brooks was a little too eager to wish Allen a good game, and the Dukie wasn't having any of it, not after Brooks launched a 3 in the closing seconds of a double-digit victory.

So then, in the handshake line after the game, Coach K made a point to speak to Brooks, admonishing him that he was too good of a player to do something like that (shoot the 3). When specifically asked in the press conference about his words to Brooks, Krzyzewski wasn't fully truthful.

"I didn't say that," Krzyzewski said. "Dillon Brooks is a hell of a player. I said, 'You're a terrific player.' And you can take whatever he said and then go with it, all right?"

In short order, Krzyzewski's words were revealed with audio evidence. He was forced to make another statement and apologize. A whole ordeal, as you can remember. Because it's Duke and because it's Coach K, it became one of the biggest stories of March.

13. Lovable 14 seed Stephen F. Austin almost makes the Sweet 16

For me, this was the second best game, from start to finish, in the 2016 tournament. Now, it's not been placed higher than other games because it lacks a historical footnote, a true buzzer-beater, and wasn't as "big" of a game as others ranked ahead of it.

I was fortunate enough to be at this one. Barclays Center was an amazing environment. Rivaled MSG at its best, I swear. It was tense and engaging for 40 minutes. Eight ties, nine lead changes. We all really thought SFA was going to do it, right? The Lumberjacks! They would have become just the third 14 seed in two decades to reach the Sweet 16. The 'Jacks came so close to becoming the biggest story in college basketball heading into the Sweet 16.

Remember, SFA entered the day on a 21-game win streak. This was its first loss in 2016!

A 76-75 finish with a frenzied tip-in in the closing seconds by -- wait, who?! -- Rex Pflueger. His first basket in two weeks. Mike Brey said afterward the win was a "theft." He was right.

12. Syracuse pulls off improbable rally to stun No. 1-seeded Virginia in the Elite Eight

I was also in the building for this one. I had my Virginia column about 70 percent written with four minutes to go.

Then it turned to sand.

I still can't believe the Cavaliers folded like this. A Virginia team that never blows big leads gives up a 15-point advantage with less than 10 minutes to go to a 10 seed. Still boggles the mind. It is one of the all-time NCAA Tournament collapses.

Syracuse became the first 10 seed to ever make the Final Four. And to think, only three weeks earlier, many thought SU should not have even been in the tournament. That's the great thing about the Big Dance, though.

Syracuse won 68-62. It used a full-court press that knocked UVa on its rear end and sparked a 25-4 Orange run. Here's what I wrote as a deadline gamer. Then here's my Syracuse-angled column. And here's what I wrote from the Virginia perspective. Tony Bennett was all class.

11. Denzel and Buddy go to the wire and wind up splitting national POY honors

  • It happened: throughout March and into April

It had been 10 years since Adam Morrison and J.J. Redick took hold of college basketball and played their way to splitting national awards. Then came Buddy and Denzel. Buddy Hield helped Oklahoma to a No. 2 seed and the Final Four. Valentine, who missed four games in the regular season, still managed to rally and become as important a player as Tom Izzo's ever had on a singular MSU team.

Buddyball was a blast, only enhanced by his personality. Valentine had a skillset that was unlike anyone else in college basketball. Man, last year was really fun with those two.

Here's the breakdown between the biggest end-of-year honors.

The traditional/major awards: Associated Press: Valentine; Naismith Award: Hield; National Association of Basketball Coaches: Valentine; Oscar Robertson Award: Hield; Sporting News: Hield; Wooden Award: Hield

POY awards from mainstream outlets: CBS Sports: Hield; Valentine; USA Today: Valentine; Sports Illustrated: Valentine

Stats-wise, this is how each player did against each other:

POINTS: Hield (25.0) over Valentine (19.2)
Valentine (7.5) over Hield (5.7)
Valentine (7.8) over Hield (2.0)
Hield (0.5) over Valentine (0.3)
STEALS: Hield (1.1) over Valentine (1.0)
Valentine (125.7) over Hield (121.5)
Valentine (29.7) over Hield (28.2)
Hield (55.2) over Valentine (48.1)
Hield (45.7) over Valentine (44.4)
FREE THROW PERCENTAGE: Hield (88.0) over Valentine (85.3)

10. Amid an explosive escort scandal, Louisville self-imposes a postseason ban

The Cardinals were a top-20 team last season. They didn't get a chance to prove it in the ACC or NCAA tournaments. The scandal, involving escorts, stripper-and-dancer parties on campus and recruiting-benefit violations, prompted the university to get ahead of the NCAA and cut off its own hand. The NCAA's case is still not resolved, but most believe this punishment will go a long way to easing the NCAA's sanctions on the program. The story remains one of the more shocking and bizarre I've ever seen in college sports. And the school, remember, was heavily criticized for deciding this in February, so late into the season -- and screwing over its seniors in the process. In particular, Damion Lee and Trey Lewis, who both transferred to Louisville from smaller schools with the intent of playing in their first NCAA tourney.

9. Jalen Adams' insane shot keeps UConn alive in 4-OT AAC tourney masterpiece

Quite clearly, one of the greatest shots in college basketball history. And it comes in an afternoon quarterfinal at the Amway Center in Orlando. You've gotta love championship week. Have you forgotten how ridiculous this shot is? It came right after Cincinnati hit what it thought would be the winning 3. Then March went March, and Adams, then a freshman, became an immediate UConn folk hero.

But remember, there was controversy. The clock did not start right as Adams got the ball. Cincinnati coach Mick Cronin made note of this after the game.

UConn won 104-97 in the fourth OT. It went on to earn the auto bid out of the American. It's been a weird year on the whole for UConn hoops, but this was an all-time moment for a storied program. Daniel Hamilton scored 32. Troy Caupain had 37 for Cinci. Adams had 22 coming off the bench.

8. Malik Monk drops 47 points as Kentucky beats UNC 103-100 in Vegas

It was the highest-rated regular season game in 2016. It was one of the best regular season games of the past five years. But it wasn't even the best regular season game of 2016. Still, Malik Monk announced his national arrival by setting program records and lifting Kentucky to an entertaining and important win. Both teams ranked in the top 10, both looking like they can chase a national title.

And I'll remind you that, while this game will forever be remembered as the Monk-47 game, Justin Jackson, Joel Berry (coming off injury) and De'Aaron Fox all also had really, really good games. CBS Sports Classic, national Saturday stage, two blue blood programs -- and a game that ends in the 100s. A big moment this year for college basketball.

7. Northern Iowa beats Texas on hilariously casual, banked-in half-court shot

Paul Jesperson, you are a March legend. This casual crossover and lanky prayer just plops in. Remember, Texas had tied the game only seconds before -- and we didn't get a timeout. These moments are made better when play isn't stopped. So this all happened in a hurry. Jesperson's "I own the world' reaction afterward is great, coming right after his teammates sprint off the bench like crabs running from the tip of the tide.

This would make my top five of the greatest winners in NCAA Tournament history. I mean, come on. It's a half-court banker at the buzzer, and then the dude goes Leo-in-Titanic!

6. Grayson Allen's third tripping incident

This is still fresh in the mind, so no need to embed the video or get too deep into the topic yet again. Allen's been indefinitely suspended, but his latest transgression sparked a national debate on his psyche, his punishment, Mike Krzyzewski's handling of the situation and all things Duke. A lot of it was deserved. It's bizarre behavior, and hopefully we've seen the last of it. But it is unfortunate that the biggest story (in terms of widespread reaction) in college basketball so far this season has to do with a player tripping people. Hopefully that changes for the better very soon.

5. No. 1 Kansas beats No. 1 Oklahoma in 3-OT epic; Buddy Hield scores 46 in the loss

KU was tops in the AP poll. OU tops in the Coaches. And college hoops began the year with a bang-bang-bang three-overtime blockbuster.

It was a great omen that within only four days of 2016 beginning, the sport gave us one of the best games we'd see all year. It's remembered as the second-best game of the season. But if you eliminate the weight and meaning of postseason play and purely look at the competition, the overtimes, the shots made, then yeah, this was the best game from start to finish -- in terms of game play -- we saw in 2016. It was the defining performance for Hield last season -- and he had about 10 really great games. But you put up 46 on 23 shots (eight 3s!) on Kansas at Kansas, and it's a lot like Jordan going Jordan at the Garden. The basketball-loving base there knows when to pay its respects to worthy opponents. And they did. They stayed long after the game ended, applauded Hield and said it was one of the best performances in the history of the greatest venue in college sports, Phog Allen Fieldhouse.

During his "SportsCenter" interview with Scott Van Pelt, the cameras caught so many fans still in the stands, waiting for Hield to finish his TV hit so they could give him a standing ovation and shake his hand. Thank him for the epic performance. His 46 tied an Allen Fieldhouse record.

"I have to go the rest of my life saying I never won in that place," Hield said afterward. "It's going to hurt my heart forever."

Bill Self called it the best regular-season game he was ever a part of.

The teams traded double-digits leads in regulation. The swings were wild. It was unforgettable. Both teams scored more than a point per possession; three KU players put up more than 20 points. It's the best game ever between a No. 1 and No. 2 team, I think

4. Middle Tennessee pulls off one of the most shocking upsets in NCAA Tournament history

And Michigan State should have been a 1! But it got the 2 seed, and then, out of nowhere, Kermit Davis' Middle Tennessee team took it to Denzel Valentine and the Spartans. To me, the most shocking upset in tourney history. In part because it was only the eighth time a 15 beat a 2, but this wasn't a close game. Middle won 90-81. It shot 55 percent from 2 and 58 percent from 3. It punked Michigan State. The Spartans looked like a top-two team for most of the final six weeks of the season, losing only once (in overtime by one on the road to Purdue) since Jan. 20.

Then Middle Tennessee just blitzes them. Everyone was shocked. Usually you get the 2 seed to make a run, take the game back. That didn't even happen. This one was not in doubt. Shoutout to Giddy Potts. Shoutout to Kermit Davis. What a surreal upset -- and it absolutely demolished brackets across the nation, as MSU was a very popular Final Four choice.

3. Texas A&M scores 12 points in 35 seconds vs. UNI, the greatest comeback in college hoops history

Hello. It still me.

And this is is not conjecture. It's not opinion. No team in D-I history ever trailed by 12 points with a minute remaining and wound up winning in that game. Until Texas A&M, which pushed UNI to overtime after piling up points in a hurry. Also, this is the reality: a lot of people did not see this comeback. It's a huge and historical event in NCAA Tournament history, but Wisconsin-Xavier was the more compelling game in real time. This was two programs that aren't well-known, and it was a double-digit game with a minute to go. Most everyone checked out.

If you still never saw how it happened, here's your chance.

We'll probably not see something like this again for ages. I wonder if it will be topped in our lifetime? A team down 12 with 40 seconds to go wins a game? It hadn't happened in more than 70 years of recorded college basketball, so why should we think it will happen a second time in the next 70?

I can't move on without addressing Paul Jesperson one more time. An unintentionally funny moment came at the end of the first OT. Jesperson, chest filled with ego after his winner two nights earlier over Texas in the first round, got too eager to be the hero again and launched UNI's final shot way, way too soon. Yes, he went full Roscoe Smith, and you never want to go full Roscoe Smith.

2. Pat Summitt dies

One of the most important coaching figures in sports history passed at the age of 64. It still feels unfair, unreal, that Summitt is no longer with us. She left her sport richer and better. Women's basketball owes almost everything that it is today to what Summitt contributed to it. She's the all-time leader in wins in Division I basketball history. She's as respected a coach as there ever was. In terms of news items, there wasn't heavier item or more meaningful event to college basketball in 2016 than the death of the great Pat Summitt. She is on the very short list of the most important and accomplished coaches in sports history throughout the world.

1. Kris Jenkins' buzzer-beater caps the greatest ending to the greatest title game in history

First, I will discuss Marcus Paige's shot. My perspective on this was from behind Paige. I remember thinking it was going to be way off. And yet, no. The greatest penultimate shot in college hoops history. I'm glad that it's still a big part of the story of this game and this ending.

Then to Jenkins. The trailer. History in unfolding rapidly. The sports world about to change.


A flip of the ball back. The shot -- from NBA range -- hits Jenkins in stride. He goes up, the ball curls in, and it's the absolute best of sports. Goosebumps every time.

Villanova wins its second championship in school history and kills off all the doubters in the process. Jenkins' name will live forever in college basketball circles. This is now the No. 1 highlight in NCAA Tournament history because it's the only true buzzer-beating 3-point shot ever to win a title.

I'm still proud of this piece from that night. It's about Jenkins and how his two families experienced joy, how they reacted in the midst of the madness. A lot of tears, but a lot more smiles. Unbelievable what college basketball gives us every March and April.

We'll end with this. Jay Wright's reaction, which is the most gangster coach non-reaction ever caught on camera. This year was incredible, from Jan. 4 until now, college basketball arrived, and leaves, with a bang. The sounds and images will reverberate for so many years to come.