Two epic comebacks during Tuesday’s First Four games — BYU’s 25-point rally vs. Iona and Western Kentucky’s furious finish against Mississippi Valley State — will only be a footnote on the rest of the Tourney because it came in a 16 vs 16 play-in game. Here are some of the comebacks that are remembered:
1. Kansas over Memphis, National Title Game, 2008. 20 years after Danny and the Miracles won a National Title for Kansas, Mario and the Miracles did the same thing. John Calipari’s Memphis team held a 9 point lead with 2:12 to play, but missed four of five FTs down the stretch. Then Mario Chalmers hit his shot to put the game into overtime, where KU was able to pull away.
2. Illinois over Arizona, Elite 8, 2005. Trailing by 15 with less than four minutes to go, Illinois guard Dee Brown claims what happens next was divine intervention. From that point Brown, Deron Williams and Luther Head took over, and by “took over” I mean they couldn’t miss. After a Williams three in the waning seconds, this game went to overtime as well, where Illinois won by one.
3. UCLA over Gonzaga, Sweet 16, 2006. This is the game that ended with Zags star Adam Morrison face down and crying on the court (who can blame him, considering they almost beat a UCLA team with 6 future NBA players). Gonzaga held an 9-point lead with 3 minutes to play, and UCLA scored the final 11 points.
4. Kentucky over Duke, Elite 8, 1998. How many great comebacks involve a walk-on? The Wildcats would end up winning the National Title, but first they had to overcome a 17-point Duke lead in the 2nd half. They ended up winning by two, and got a key three-pointer from walk-on Cameron Mills, which sparked a hit rap song (okay, I made that part up).
5. Stanford over Rhode Island, Elite 8, 1998. Contributing to one of the greatest Elite 8 rounds in Tournament history, the Cardinal overcame a 6-point deficit in the final minute to beat Rhode Island and move on to the Final Four.