The Voyager’s favorite March Madness moments

Jotham Israel, Andrew Hale, Sports Writers

March Madness is back after a one-year hiatus, and as the sports world gets ready to make new memories in this year’s NCAA Tournament, The Voyager’s Sports Writers Andrew Hale and Jotham Israel share their favorite March Madness moments of the past.

Michigan State over Duke, Elite Eight 2019

Andrew Hale: Since I was born and raised in the house of second generation Spartans, it’s only right that Michigan State earns the title of having my favorite March Madness moment. After impressive wins over Bradley, Minnesota and LSU in the first three rounds of the 2019 March Madness tournament, MSU had one more team to get through in order to make it to their eighth Final Four under Tom Izzo, and it was none other than the gigalith that is Duke. The 2018-19 Duke basketball team was said to be the greatest collegiate basketball team to ever touch the court. With players like R.J. Barrett, Cam Reddish and Zion Williamson, MSU was thought to have absolutely no shot at upsetting this Duke squad, but Cassius Winston and his Michigan State Spartans said otherwise. After only leading by four at the half, MSU was certainly not satisfied. In the second half, Duke took the lead multiple times, but they couldn’t find a solution for Michigan State center Xavier Tillman. With Duke up 66-65 with less than 35 seconds left, Tom Izzo called a timeout and drew up the perfect play. MSU got the ball in the hands of their captain, Cassius Wiston. He found an open Kenny Goins, who made the biggest three-pointer of his career. After a dramatic miss at the free throw line by R.J. Barrett to potentially tie the game at 68, MSU inbounded the ball and Cassius Winston evaded defenders and ran out the clock to clinch a spot in the Final Four. To this day just watching the final seconds of this game gives me chills.

Arike Ogunbowale’s 2018 Final Four heroics

Jotham Israel: My favorite March Madness moment actually comes from the women’s side of college basketball. Arike Ogunbowale’s 2018 Final Four performances are second to no other moment for me. So much pressure was on her in the Final Four against UConn. With 38 seconds left in overtime and her team up by three, Ogunbowale missed two free throws and the Huskies hit a three-pointer to tie the game. It seems like she choked and lost them the game, right? Wrong! She had three-time All-American Napheesa Collier guarding her one-on-one, and she hit the game-winner from just inside the three-point line. That shot gave previously 36-0 UConn their first and only loss of that season. Then two nights after that, she turns around in the national championship game against Mississippi State and hits a rainbow-like, buzzer-beating, three-pointer to win the national championship for Notre Dame. She literally catapulted the Irish to a title over a team that was on a 111-game winning streak and after being down by 15 in the second half of the championship game. Her game-winners aren’t just my favorite March Madness moments, but they’re the clutchest plays I have ever seen in any sport.

Loyola-Chicago’s 2018 Final Four run

Hale: Loyola Chicago and Sister Jean’s 2018 Final Four Run was quite literally magical. Before the 2018 March Madness Tournament, I was not too familiar with Loyola-Chicago University, but after learning the story behind Rambler superfan Sister Jean, I knew this team was special. After watching them hit game-winners in back-to-back games against Miami and Tennessee and then squeezing out a win against Nevada, they were immediately added to the top of my favorite Cinderella stories. After soundly defeating Kansas State in the Elite Eight, their run unfortunately came to an end against Michigan in the Final Four, but the way they were able to defeat their opponents and the story of Sister Jean will live on in college basketball history forever.

The Kris Jenkins buzzer-beater

Israel: Call me cheesy, but another buzzer-beater makes my list. On the men’s side, Kris Jenkins hit as clutch of a three-pointer as you will ever see to deliver Villanova the title in 2016. The game was insane, and as crazy as it sounds, that was the shot that got me hooked to college basketball. That was literally the first March Madness game that I ever knew about, and that’s why it is so special to me. You can’t ask for a better introduction to college hoops, and that shot will be in my memory for a long, long time.