Be My Valentine – 14 Iconic Moments We’ve Loved This SeasonPosted by EJacoby on February 14th, 2012
Evan Jacoby is a regular contributor for RTC. You can find him @evanjacoby on Twitter.
Are you riding solo this Valentine’s Day? If you can’t have a significant other, you can always love sports. What is more beautiful to watch than a buzzer-beating shot, an unlikely upset win, or a swarm of students rushing the court? Here to cheer you up, we present a reminder of 14 lovely moments in college basketball this season, in honor of the 14th:
1. Racers’ Pursuit of Perfection (December 11) – Murray State beat then-ranked Memphis on the road to improve their record to 10-0, and fans and analysts immediately began to take notice of this OVC school. This win set off the idea that the Racers could perhaps run the table this season, and while it did not happen, it would be two full months before they lost a game.
2. Teach Us How to Dougie (January 7) – Creighton has now lost three straight games to drop out of the Top 25 rankings for the first time in weeks, but they’d been providing a great story all season in the form of Doug McDermott. The sophomore forward, son of Creighton head coach Greg McDermott, and former teammate of Harrison Barnes in high school, went for 44 points and eight rebounds in a road win over Bradley that kickstarted his campaign for National Player of the Year. His candidacy for the award has since died down, but he’s still third in the nation in points per game (22.9).
3. Watford’s Buzzer-Beater (December 10) – Indiana got off to a fast start this season, but the Hoosiers took it to another level when they knocked off #1 Kentucky at home to improve to 9-0 back in December. Down by two, it took this shot by Christian Watford to beat the buzzer and provide us with one of the most memorable highlights of the year. The shot signified that IU basketball is officially back. See it below.
4. Rivers’ Buzzer-Beater (February 8) – Perhaps the only more recognizable moment of this season than Watford’s shot was a similar one from Duke’s Austin Rivers. Down by two at Chapel Hill on the final possession, the freshman provided this season’s iconic moment thus far by nailing a game-winner at the buzzer to beat North Carolina. The main difference between the two shots? Rivers’ came on the road, silencing the UNC crowd and sending them into shock.
5. Carrier Classic (November 11) – This season got off to an awesome start when North Carolina and Michigan State matched up in the first ever basketball game played on an aircraft carrier. On board the USS Carl Vinson, the Tar Heels defeated the Spartans on Veteran’s Day in the Carrier Classic, an awesome atmosphere that will not soon be forgotten. President Obama was in attendance among a select group of those serving our country that got to watch the game aboard the flight deck.
6. Duke Wins in Maui (November 23) – Always the biggest early-season tournament of the year, this year’s Maui Invitational was especially stacked with top teams. Duke continued its streak of never losing a game in Maui as the Blue Devils defeated Kansas in the tournament finals in one of the best games of the early season. Thomas Robinson began his still-ongoing campaign for National Player of the Year out in Hawaii, but his team just fell short of the championship.
7. Two Unlikely Star Guards (December 14-21). While many of the top point guards in the country stumbled out of the gate, Weber State’s Damian Lillard and Iona’s Scott Machado have been dominant at their position all year long. These two mid-major stars really began to get recognized first in mid-December when their respective teams were playing tough non-conference games and each player kept producing. Lillard went for 22 points and five assists in a blowout win over Utah and Machado had 13 points with 15 dimes in a road victory over Richmond, both in the same week. Lillard is now the nation’s leading scorer (25.1 PPG), while Machado is the country’s top assist man (9.9 APG), and both are on the short list for the nation’s top point guard.
8. Anthony Davis Dominates (December 1) – The most dominant player on the best team in the country is Kentucky freshman Anthony Davis, who has been a defensive stud all season long. In early December against St. John’s, Davis had 15 points, 15 rebounds, and eight blocks in a near-triple double that let the country know that this rookie was ready to dominate. Ever since, he’s been one of the frontrunners for National Player of the Year.
9. UNLV beats UNC (November 26) – Not only did this game establish the fact that the Tar Heels were not untouchable, but it began what looks to be a special season for UNLV. The Runnin’ Rebels took down #1 North Carolina, 90-80, out in Vegas and proceeded to rush the court in a classic upset win. See the highlight below.
10. Harvard Wins Tourney (November 26) – Jeremy Lin wasn’t involved in this, but it was still a special moment for Harvard when the Ivy League school won the early season Battle 4 Atlantis tournament against a field that included last season’s national champions, Connecticut. The Crimson defeated UCF in the tournament final, 59-49.
11. Missouri Takes Border War (February 4) – In a hard-fought battle, two Top 10 teams went down to the wire in this year’s first installment of the Border War when Mizzou defeated Kansas, 74-71,earlier this month. The Tigers trailed by eight points with 2:15 to play but came back to win behind a special finish by Marcus Denmon. These two teams remain Top 5 teams and will meet again later this season.
12. Dickie V Honored at Detroit (December 5) – The University of Detroit, where Vitale began his coaching career back in 1973, recognized their former head coach and legendary broadcaster Dick Vitale by naming their home court in his honor. It was awesome, baby!
13. Coach K Passes Bob Knight (November 15) – Duke defeated Michigan State, 74-69, in Madison Square Garden for coach Mike Krzyzewski’s 903rd all-time victory, passing Bob Knight for the most wins all time by a Division I men’s head coach. It was an incredible moment in front of Knight himself and against fellow coaching legend Tom Izzo in the world’s most famous arena.
14. Notre Dame’s RTC (January 21) – Nothing beats a classic RTC, which the Fighting Irish executed to perfection when they upset #1 Syracuse on their home floor four weeks ago. Not only was this a great moment, but it was the start of Notre Dame’s season resurgence. Mike Brey’s team has not lost a game since, and the Irish all of a sudden find themselves in position for a potential NCAA Tournament bid that seemed impossible just one month ago.