The NCAA Tournament didn’t end the way many of us wanted, but it still was a fantastic month of basketball that we so desperately needed after missing last year’s. I posited the question to the staff: What was your favorite moment of the tournament? Here are the answers
Ben: It would’ve been easy for me to pick something Zags related for this article, whether that be the myriad of big moments from the UCLA game, or literally anything Drew Timme did in the first five games of the tournament. I decided to go with something a little different, although it has many similarities to Gonzaga’s Final Four run. I picked a game from the men’s Division II tournament, which also featured an absurd game ending sequence. West Texas A&M overcame a 16-point deficit to Lincoln Memorial in the national semifinals, but missed a chance to tie the game in the final seconds. The ball was tapped out to Zach Touissant, who hit this shot to win the game and move on to the national championship:
The Buffaloes lost the national championship to Northwest Missouri State, 80-54. That drubbing no doubt put a damper on things for the team and their fans, but doesn’t take away from the crazy run to the finals that they put on. Hopefully we and the rest of Zag Nation can look back on our guys’ run in the same way, and remember the first 31 games of the season for how great they really were.
Steven: My favorite moment of the tournament was the revival of the Pac-12. We got three P12 schools in the Elite Eight and only one Big 10 team. The hope is that this can be a springboard for the Pac-12 to get back into the National Spotlight. UCLA seems to be on the upswing, with a good majority of their roster returning. If USC can build on their season and Oregon State can have a big recruiting boom after their magical run, that would be awesome. I love when West Coast basketball represents and in this tournament, the West Coast balled out.
I think the easy answer is obviously the Jalen Suggs three-pointer, but I’m going to specifically take Oregon State’s run as my favorite moment of the tournament. Wayne Tinkle is a great guy and a better coach, and it was great to see Oregon State lock him into an extension to help guide that program to future heights. I just think that Oregon State’s run is what makes March Madness so glorious. The Beavers last won a NCAA Tournament game in 1982, when they went all the way to the Elite Eight. Since then, they’ve only made the tournament six times, losing in the first round each time. Not only did they get their first tournament win in nearly 30 years, they got three of them. Hats off to Ethan Thompson and crew.
Arden: I also don’t want to be basic and just say the game winner from Jalen Suggs to advance to the national championship, that would be too easy. Although, that shot will go down as one of the biggest that college basketball has ever seen.
My favorite moment of this wild NCAA Tournament has to be the run from Oral Roberts to the Sweet 16. I’m a sucker for a great Cinderella team. The Golden Eagles became the second #15 seed to ever reach the Sweet 16 in tournament history (the first was another one of my favorite teams in March Madness history, Florida Gulf Coast AKA “Dunk City”). Max Abmas and Kevin Obanor cemented their names with the greatest this tournament has ever seen by scoring 113 of Oral Robert’s 156 total points in the first two victories over #2 Ohio State and #7 Florida. Not to mention, they were one shot away from another upset over #3 Arkansas. That was a great look for the game winner, just a bit off.
Keith: Fine, I will be the basic one and say Jalen Suggs three at the end of OT to take down UCLA. That moment speaks for itself and will be part of NCAA Tournament lore for years to come, even though Gonzaga didn’t cap it off by winning the next game. Just a few minutes before that shot was my second favorite moment from the tournament—the 1b if the buzzer beater is 1a—Suggs’ block of Cody Riley and assist to a streaking Drew Timme in transition with just two minutes left in regulation. That sequence highlighted all of Suggs’ preternatural talents. I’ll miss watching him play in a Gonzaga uniform.