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Who can really say what those 10 are? How do you determine the best? Are they the most dramatic? The most historically significant? Those packed with the biggest stars? It all depends on your criteria. Top 10 lists are as subjective as figure-skating scores. Anyway, taking into account all the above categories, here’s one man’s point of view:
1. 1957, NORTH CAROLINA 54, KANSAS 53 (3 OTs)
Three overtimes and Wilt Chamberlain. That alone should be enough to put this game at the top of any list, but there’s more. North Carolina had played another triple-overtime game the night before, beating Michigan State in the national semifinals. Next came Kansas and the unstoppable Chamberlain.
UNC was made up of New York kids, brought to Chapel Hill by coach Frank McGuire when New York City schools de-emphasized the sport in the wake of point-shaving scandals.
With no player over 6?5?, McGuire had 5?11? Tommy Kearns jump center for the opening tap. Unbeaten NC wrapped three players and a zone around Chamberlain, who got just 13 shots, and led most of the way. But Lennie Rosenbluth, the Tar Heels’ best and biggest player, fouled out with 1:45 left in regulation and Chamberlain sparked a Kansas comeback.
Each team scored just two points in the first overtime and none in the second. (How does a team with Chamberlain score just two points in 10 crucial minutes?) Finally, with three seconds left in the third overtime, N.C.’s Joe Quigg hit two free throws that decided the outcome.
2. 1966, TEXAS WESTERN 72, KENTUCKY 65
A relatively dull and uneventful game on the surface, no title matchup has ever been as important.
Until that season, no college team had consistently started five black players. The in-vogue racist thinking was that teams needed at least one white player to provide calm and intellect.
But Texas Western’s Don Haskins, a basketball legends pool-hustling pragmatist, thought that was bunk and, despite the objections of his own college president, started five African-Americans. Kentucky, meanwhile, coached by scowling Adolph Rupp, had never had a black player and wouldn’t for another few years, even after the Deep South schools in the Southeastern Conference integrated.
This perfect little morality tale, with both a compelling villain and hero, changed collegiate sports. A year later, there were no more segregated leagues and very few all-white teams. By midway through the next decade, the changes the game had sparked, would change the face of college basketball.Embroidery Digitizing
3. 1985, VILLANOVA 66, GEORGETOWN 64
Probably the title-game’s biggest upset. Villanova had 10 regular-season losses, was an eighth seed, and opened up the tourney on its opponent’s home court. Georgetown, meanwhile, was the overall No. 1 seed, the defending champion and making its third title-game appearance in Patrick Ewing’s four seasons.