With the NCAA tournament nearing ever closer, ESPN took the time to rank the top-75 moments in the tournament’s history. Unsurprisingly, Duke basketball was featured prominently in the rankings, including occupying the top spot on the list.
The list started off on a low note for Blue Devil fans, as the No. 73 moment was Arkansas guard Scotty Thurman drilling a three-pointer to break a 70-70 tie and propel the Razorbacks to the victory and the 1994 NCAA title. No. 67 was another disappointment, detailing how Duke coughed up a Sweet 16 game against Indiana back in 2002.
There were also joyous moments for Duke featured on this list. Nos. 62 and 57 come from the Blue Devils’ 2010 national championship. Head coach Mike Krzyzewski won his fourth ring, tying Adolf Rupp for second all-time among coaches. Gordon Hayward’s half-court heave was a moment in it of itself.
Also included in the top moments were UConn’s 1999 victory over Duke for the national title, Pervis Ellison and Lousville knocking off the Blue Devils in 1986, Duke’s 2001 come-from-behind victory over Maryland, the 1990 “special”, and the 1991 upset victory over UNLV.
Aside from wins and losses, there was also a heartfelt moment. In 2010, West Virginia’s Da’Shaun Butler collided with Duke center Brian Zoubek and suffered a devastating knee injury. Mountaineer head coach Bob Huggins went out on the court to hug and reassure his fallen player, bringing tears to the eyes of even the most hardened fans.
Last, but certainly not least, Duke owns the No. 1 moment in NCAA basketball tournament history. You guessed it, the 1992 Christian Laettner buzzer-beater to knock off Kentucky. Here’s what ESPN’s Dana O’neil had to say about Laettner’s shot:
There was madness before and plenty after the shot, but it stands alone as the iconic moment of the NCAA tournament. If you were in Philadelphia on March 28, 1992, and you witnessed Christian Laettner’s impossible buzzer-beater to beat Kentucky in the Elite Eight, you carry it like a badge of honor. If you watched it on television, you remember where you were. If you weren’t born yet, you wish you had been. Grant Hill’s perfect pass went directly to Laettner, who then turned and swished the most epic shot in NCAA history. Now, more than 20 years and plenty of buzzer-beaters later, it remains The Moment that stands above all the rest. A moment that stands the test of time and always will.
With the season winding to a close, the Blue Devils will soon be looking to add more memorable moments—and NCAA titles.