A bit reactionary, but after Jenkins shot went it, I tweeted it was the greatest shot in college basketball history. Well, some time has passed (half a day), and I’ve come back to reality. Let me lay down this ground rule: no game winner in a round outside of the championship could be ranked above a game winner in the championship. Because they’re not as significant, and it’s not as big of a stage. So that being said, let’s see where last night’s game-winner ranks all-time:
5. Mario Chalmers, 2008
Great start here, with a non-game winner. For me, this is really one of my first memories of actively watching and understanding the impact and difficulty of a shot on that level. Chalmers’ reputation has since been smeared, but that if that shot were to win instead of tie, it would be on the top. Going towards his off hand, guys around him, win or go home. It’s up at 5 because it sent it to OT, and didn’t seal the deal quite yet. Still remains in the annuls of history.
Remember, it all would’ve been avoided if D-Rose could hit his throws…
4. Michael Jordan, 1982
Turned on the video unaware that Michael Jordan is old enough to have played without a 3-point line.
Classic Jordan, with the smoothest jumper we’ve ever seen, and that we’ll ever see (slight shot at Steph). To give UNC a victory, over Patrick Ewing, in the title game, this had to be up high. Game winner when it’s all said and done, but there was still a looooot of time left after he hit it. Still historic, but we’ve got some better ones ahead.
3. Keith Smart, 1987
Extremely similar to MJ’s winner. But Smart’s was with less time left, so slight edge.
It’s still known in Bloomington, Indiana as “The Shot” for a reason. Smart ended up being the MOP of the tourney, I’m assuming because of this one shot. Stupidity from the Syracuse side (probably under academic investigation at the time) led to the final 4 seconds running off of the clock. That’s a growing trend here: other people’s screw ups become historic moments. Somebody has to be the goat, and somebody has to be the G.O.A.T.
2. Kris Jenkins, 2016
Wanted them at the top, but realized that I couldn’t.
But let me say, this game winner and this shot will rise to the top when UNC’s team has 8 guys in the NBA in 3 years, and Marcus Paige and Brice Johnson are All-Stars. It’s one of the bigger upsets in NCAA championship history. Not the biggest, but it’s in the top 10. Not for teams that get there, but for teams that actually win it. Butler getting there was a big upset, but they didn’t win it. For teams that have won it, Villanova’s win over a UNC that was getting stronger and stronger game by game was an upset. Don’t tweak.
And that upset’s not complete without Kris Jenkins. Coming behind Arcidiacono, who everyone and their mother thought was going to take the shot, Jenkins found himself with an open look. A clean look. Rare in these situations. What I love about this shot, was that it was a true buzzer beater. None before it were. They all left time on the clock. This was a we win, or we go to OT moment. UNC had no chance to win that game in regulation.
It’s not just in the moment feelings, this is the second best game winner in the championship game, ever. At the least.
1. Lorenzo Charles, 1983
Coming fresh off of the 1982 Jordan winner, Lorenzo Charles sinks the greatest shot in the history of the NCAA. Too bad it was the 80s, so everyone was too far in the clouds to appreciate…
What makes this the greatest shot ever is not its difficulty, because Lorenzo Charles merely tapped the ball in. But Jim Valvano running around the court trying to find somebody to hug. Lorenzo Charles got no love after the shot too, only a couple of teammates, and the whole scene’s a bit odd, and very 80s (too many 80s jokes, I know).
And most of all, this capped off probably the biggest upset in championship history. NC State didn’t have the best odds in Vegas. But Houston did. This was Phi Slamma Jamma Houston. Clyde Drexler. Hakeeem Olajauwon. The “when we jump, don’t you dare jump” Houston.
Huge upset. Chaotic scene. Legendary call. Buzzer beater. All the makings to be the greatest winner in the history of the NCAA.
For now at least…