North American College Basketball Games: Top 10 Basketball Games Of The 2010s Decade
North American College Basketball Games: Top 10 Basketball Games Of The 2010s Decade
A European guy writing a post about North American college basketball games – yes, shit happens. In Europe, we don’t care about sports in High School or College, but rather about education and a profession that we study for. However, we might be wrong with that approach.
First of all, it’s really boring to study for 4-6 years, and, secondly, most of us get to pursue a career totally not related to one’s university degree. In North America, physically gifted students get into competitive sports like soccer, American football, and basketball. It’s just staggering how insane these clashes between college teams get and that a whole country would be holding its breath while watching a college basketball national championship. Among many advantages, college athletes get to miss tiring studies and, being really popular, get more free time to crash pussy or getting it. Sounds amazing, doesn’t it? Many of such athletes make their best effort at college sports as if their future depends on it. And it really does. If you want to be a professional basketball player, or actually any athlete, in North America, you have to do your best and be noticed by a talent scout of a major college or, later, be drafted for professional sports like NBA.
The last decade of America’s college basketball has been truly impressive and even more impressive is the fact that all that great shows athletes have put up for free. Basketball players during their college phase are not allowed to get paid, except in scholarships. That doesn’t concern coaches and team managing staff, of course. In college basketball, coaches and managers are getting paid in millions of US dollars. Overall, college basketball games are no less profitable than any other highly competitive professional sport.
From 2010 until 2019 seven men’s programs won a college basketball national championship. The top 10 best college basketball teams being Duke (2010 and 2015 champions), Connecticut (2011 and 2014 champions) and Villanova (2016 and 2018 champions). Some women’s college teams were more persistent than men’s, like Uconn winning a national championship five times. Overall, four different women’s programs won the college basketball national championship. More info about top 10 best college basketball teams is below.
If you are into sports, regulated by National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA), just like we are, you will love the following ranking – top 10 basketball games and college basketball game winners of the 2010s decade. They all have distinguished heroes, high stakes, a lot of tension and last minute or even second/s plot twist, just like those favorite American sports movies. Here we go.
10. Wisconsin Badgers vs. Florida Gators in the Sweet 16 on the 24th of March 2017
This game was played at Madison Square Garden in the Sweet 16. All was going well, right until the end, when the game turned into a classic last-minute effort American sports drama. During the last five minutes of the game, Wisconsin Badgers’ player Zak Showalter insanely scored 9 points, sending the game into overtime. But it was not Zak Showalter, who was last to score and finish the game. In the last 24 seconds, the game was still tied at 81 points. However, basketball is usually not a “tie” sport. The Florida Gators senior point guard Chris Chiozza shot a three-pointer from an impressive distance and ripped out the victory from Wisconsin Badgers’ clutching hands. Florida Gators had beaten Wisconsin Badgers in the overtime shot-off and ended the clash with 84 points, just 2 points ahead of Wisconsin Badgers.
9. Kentucky Wildcats vs. Indiana Hoosiers at Indiana University Bloomington in 2011
This game was held at Assembly Hall on Indiana University Bloomington’s campus on the 10th of December 2011 and was game-changing for both teams. Both programs were top-ranked in the national college basketball 2010-2011 with an impressive 8-0 record. The rivalry between the two teams goes back as far as 1924 and students were stoked on this game as if they knew that it would be really something. Kentucky Wildcats were on their way to a national championship after a very successful season. At the same time, Indiana Hoosiers were doing just as great, but after three losing seasons, and it seemed like they were rising like a Phoenix.
Anyway, Indiana Hoosiers took a one-point lead after the first half and they kept at it in the second half. Since it was a very tight rivalry, Kentucky Wildcats started to catch up closer to the end of the game. Few seconds until the final buzzer, Wildcats had 72 points and Indiana ‒ 70. Christian Watford made a historic three-point shot at the buzzer to win the game for Indiana with 73 points. I guess people were so impressed that he got the nickname “Wat shot”. Dick Vitale shouted “Unbelievable!” and the hall exploded in euphoria, cheering for Indiana Hoosiers ‒ an iconic moment in the rebirth of Indiana basketball.
8. Butler Bulldogs vs. Duke Blue Devils clash on the 5th of April 2010 ‒ a game for the national championship
Butler Bulldogs were actually underdogs (at least, not hot dogs, if you understand what I’m saying) and not considered a great power in the championship. But you have guessed right, no ordinary game would be in this top 10 basketball games ranking. Bulldogs became the first team to play in the championship in Indianapolis since 1968 and yes, it was another great moment in Indiana’s college basketball. However, the moment was possibly not great enough and could have been even more exciting. Opposite to Bulldogs being a No. 5 seed at the time, Duke Blue Devils were blueblood and No. 1 seed, having already won three national titles. Bulldogs were going in hot after beating Syracuse, Kansas State, and Michigan State, ready to take on a possible fourth-time national champion, Duke Blue Devils. If you have watched the game, you would have known that it was quite reserved for my personal taste and for a national championship too. However, the last 2 minutes were really rewarding, like compensating for the previous dullness. The score was 61-59 in Blue Devils’ favor, but Gordon Hayward of Butler Bulldogs was not ready to give up. People say it was one of the greatest moments of the college basketball and in Bulldogs’ history as well when he took a shot across half of the court that could have been a game and championship-winning buzzer. The ball jumped off the ring and Duke Blue Devils took the national title for the fourth time. Some celebrated, but for some, the game end was a bummer. One thing is for sure though, the game was captivating for both Butler’s and Duke’s fans.
7. Northern Iowa Panthers vs. Texas A&M Aggies on the 20th of March 2010: Aggies’ comeback
After the first half and during the second half, Northern Iowa Panthers had their eyes on the win and it looked like anything ain’t gonna stop them. In the last 36 seconds till the endgame, Panthers were leading with 12 points. Right at the time, Admon Gilder, Texas A&M Aggies’s top player, decided to turn the game around. He used his teammate’s attempt to score and put that ball into the basket, this way removing 2 points from the difference. Panthers had the ball and Gilder made a move again, stealing the ball from them. Danuel House was the next Aggies player to score, making it Northern Iowa 69, A&M 61. 22 seconds left and that moment Northern Iowa was leading only by 6 points. House then scored a nice three-pointer. There was something that looked like a turning point in the game, putting Panthers on a winning path again, but then Gilder did something impressive again (yes, we are still talking about that last 36 seconds of this game). Gilder collected the ball from Panthers and scored, adding overtime to this game and providing Texas A&M Aggies with an opportunity to win. After one overtime, there was another one, ending the game with Texas A&M Aggies’ 92‐88 win. Almost 20% of the points were scored by Aggies in the last seconds and overtimes. Another legendary match in the 2010s decade.
6. Michigan Wolverines vs. Kansas Jayhawks on the 29th of March 2013: a shot by Michigan’s Trey Burke
Michigan Wolverines met No. 1 seed Kansas Jayhawks in the Sweet 16. Jayhawks were expected to win this match easily, but Wolverines hold an ace, who showed himself right in the endgame. Wolverines had Trey Burke, a National Player of the Year. He definitely helped to force a turnover for his team in this game, but the famous Trey Burke’s shot came in the last 5 seconds of the regulation. He pulled a three-pointer out of his sleeve, tossing a ball all over the half-court, roughly 30 feet away from the basket. The regular time ended with a tie 76-76 and there was overtime. Trey Burke and Mitch McGary made sure that the game would be won in overtime with a score 87-85 and, because of them, Michigan Wolverines made all the way to a national championship game, where they lost to Louisville Cardinals. All say that basketball is a team sport, however, only great individuals can make a real difference.
5. Purdue Boilermakers vs. Virginia Cavaliers one-man game on the 30th of March 2019
Some say that this game was the best one of the tournament. And for two reasons: one man’s game and another team’s comeback. Carsen Edwards, all by himself, carried his team to a possible win. He managed to put 10 three-pointer shots in the basket! Totally, he scored 42 points during the game, while the rest of Purdue Boilermakers scored 33 points. Carsen Edwards fought and clawed his way to a victory. However, Purdue was up against No. 1 seed Virginia Cavaliers, who were playing as a team. Cavaliers had their eyes on the national championship. But the situation was not looking good as Carsen Edwards was stepping on their toes.
In the last seconds, Cavaliers’ freshman Kihei Clark managed to get his hands on the ball, passed it to Mamadi Diakite, which proved to be the best decision. Mamadi Diakite sent the ball into the basket while being in the air, thus, earning a chance for a team to do better during overtime. Virginia Cavaliers made it in overtime and Virginia advanced to the final four for the first time since 1984. This turning point led all the way to the national championship, the first one in Cavaliers’ history. There is a lesson here: “Talent wins games, but teamwork and intelligence win championships.”
4. Wisconsin Badgers vs. Kentucky Wildcats on the 4th of April 2015: a fiery event of the year
The game was a rematch between Wisconsin Badgers and Kentucky Wildcats and it was clear that Badgers got another shot at the Wildcats after a very close loss during the previous season. They met again in 2015 Final Four, but this time was different. Kentucky Wildcats were so much better as a team than the last season’s squad and they were considered to be the best team in America, especially Wildcats’ phenomenal defense. On the other hand, Wisconsin Badgers’ roster stayed the same from their last face-off with Kentucky Wildcats, which may not sound like a smart move for some, but their offense has been ranked as the most effective in the nation. So, basketball fans, what do you think is more important: offense or defense? I would personally bet on offense and if you would too, then you were right.
The Wildcats were only a few games away from the first perfect season, being at that time 38-0. Wisconsin Badgers, on the other hand, had a National Player of the Year: Frank Kaminsky. Kentucky had some impressive wins that season, like beating West Virginia by 39 points in the Sweet 16 game. They seemed to have a very strong squad and Kentucky’s seven players were chosen for the NBA. But, despite all that, they didn’t manage to show all their advantages in the actual game. Wisconsin Badgers took the lead in the last 2 minutes of the game. Frank Kaminsky and Bronson Koenig made sure that it would stay that way by free-throws. Wildcats missed two three-pointers in the last 10 seconds of the game, this way ending their season and their winning streak of 38-0.
The Wildcats loss was not the end of the event as it was expected. Their fans went around Lexington, setting sporadic fires and 31 people were detained. Obviously, the Kentucky Wildcats fans were really unhappy about their favorite team losing and ending their winning streak.
3. Notre Dame Fighting Irish vs Connecticut Huskies on the 30th of March 2018
As mentioned above, Connecticut Huskies or UConn are considered to be one of the best in the national championship. UConn has dominated the NCAA tournaments from 2009 to 2016. They managed to win the national championship five times. UConn’s reign ended in 2017 in a game against Mississippi State. The Mississippi State team at that time was smart and ready to take on the defending champions. Morgan William was the one who scored last winning points, time expired and UConn were dethroned, losing to Mississippi State 66-64. Since we went this way, you can imagine that the following story won’t be in UConn’s favor.
Notre Dame Fighting Irish were fighting that night indeed. Their most prominent warriors were Arike Ogunbowale, Jessica Shepherd and Jackie Young. Jessica Shepherd was performing well throughout the game, but Arike and Jackie were making Huskies sweat and doubt the possibility of a victory. In this game, Jackie scored the most points: 32. Arike was not too behind, she managed to do 27 points. Both of them did drag the Huskies to overtime. But it was Arike, who made a finishing blow during overtime. Her shot came in the last second, securing Notre Dame a win 91-89. In the next game against Mississippi State, Arike did it again, beating them with a three-point buzzer. Irish fought well and delivered an exciting performance, winning the national championship.
2. Oklahoma Sooners vs. Kansas Jayhawks on the 4th January of 2016
Buddy Hield, an Oklahoma Sooners’ senior guard, was the star of this regular-season game. The game made it to this ranking partly because of him. Another reason is that it was a meeting of No.1 and No.2 teams of the nation. Not only Buddy Hield didn’t know how to give up, but also his whole team Oklahoma Sooners could not just let it go, they fought until the end, particularly until the end of the third overtime. The Sooners’ star scored 46 points, the highest score in his career. He put a lot of pressure on Kansas Jayhawks, but it looked like they had a more clever and overall balanced team effort on the court. Some even say that Jayhawks were playing only against Buddy Hield and not the whole Sooners squad. Both teams were constantly switching the lead. Finally, during the last overtime, Jayhawks gained an upper hand and finished the game by beating Oklahoma 109-106. Even after the game ended the way it did, still it seemed like this thriller was all about the Oklahoma star, Buddy Hield. It was obvious that he would get tons of praise from his team and fans. But what no one expected, with his game he managed to earn the opposite team fans’ respect. During his interview by ESPN, a part of Kansas Jayhawks gave him a standing ovation for his amazing performance and unrelenting efforts until the last 54th minute of the game. Well deserved!
1. North Carolina Tar Heels vs. Villanova Wildcats Championship Game on the 4th of April 2016 at NRG Stadium
You have already read about 9 exciting games during the last 2010s decade and they were all epic AF. But just how epic should the game be that would make it to the first place? Supposedly, it would be some crazy national championship battle between two “impossible to beat” teams. And such a match took place on the 4th of April 2016.
Just as always, the last seconds of this crucial game would define the outcome of the national championship. With less than 5 seconds remaining, a North Carolina senior Marcus Paige managed to pull out a long-distance and quite impressive three-pointer, erasing Villanova’s lead for a bit and tying the score at 74 points. It looked amazing and Marcus Paige would have got so much more praise if it had been the shot that had decided the champion. It would have lived forever in history. No matter how great his move was, there was another thrilling moment coming.
Villanova Wildcats’ Ryan Arcidiacono passed the ball to his teammate Kris Jenkins, who sent a buzzer-beating three-pointer shot for the championship, making the final score 77-74 in Wildcats’ favor. Villanova Wildcats won the national championship title and it was their first one since 1985. You could have felt the exploding energy at NRG Stadium, even sitting in front of a TV or any other device display.