The oral history of March Madness.

PART THREE: Specific standout moments and teams

Which specific game moment was most memorable to you?

Seth Davis: Gosh, there’s so many they really bleed together. A few come to mind. Two years ago, when Texas A&M came back on Northern Iowa, I think that was a double-digit comeback in the final minute. That was obviously memorable. I think the Duke-Butler championship game, because of the storyline, comes to mind. Of course, it was in Indianapolis and Gordon Hayward’s half-court shot almost won it for Butler at the buzzer. Kansas beating Memphis with the Mario Chalmers shot was an amazing game. Oh, and of course, two years ago with Kris Jenkins hitting the shot at the buzzer for Villanova. That’s something that everybody dreams about, but nobody does, and he did it.

Gary Parrish: The 2008 NCAA tournament. The National Championship game where Kansas beats Memphis in overtime. I was there in San Antonio. What makes it so memorable is that I grew up and graduated in Memphis. All of a sudden, I’m sitting on the front row as a CBS Sports columnist about to watch my alma mater play for a National Championship. But Kansas wins in overtime, and I can just remember glancing into the crowd and seeing people I recognized. Lots of Memphis fans have always been waiting for that moment. I can still see it. It was just bizarre to be there up close.

Michael DeCourcy: Chalmers’ shot in 2008 because so much changed with that shot. If Derrick Rose hits one more free throw, that shot doesn’t matter much. I always try to tell people that the most important player for Kansas that night was Sherron Collins, because they were down nine points with two minutes and 12 seconds left. They worked for a layup, they scored, and then Collins steals the inbounds pass, kicks it inside, kicks it back out to him, he makes a three-pointer, and then the game is on. Collins was also the guy who did the great dribble handoff that set up Chalmers for the shot, so I never think he gets enough credit for that.

Len Elmore: The one moment that I think is memorable was when UCLA coming back from a deficit against Gonzaga. The producer and the director did a great job of assembling facial shots. What I remember is Adam Morrison breaking out in tears during the game, and, in fact, they had an opportunity to either tie the game or go ahead, but it was almost like they let all of their emotions out and kind of surrendered before the war was over, so to speak. That really was surprising to see that, you know, because they had been very accustomed to winning and were an outstanding team, but when they blew that lead down the stretch I think it was just too much for them. Those pictures told a lot.

Jim Spanarkel: I had a West Virginia against Wake Forest [game in 2005] that went to double overtime. It was just a fabulous game in the terms of how the game was played. Generally, the way overtimes are, everybody walks the ball up. The first overtime I remember that West Virginia came out and ran the entire time, so the pace was unusual. They were relentless because they went up and down the court and tried to score.

Dick Vitale: I’d go with the N.C. State and Houston game with Jimmy V again. I’ve been fortunate enough to be at buzzer beaters like Kris Jenkins hitting the winning shot for Villanova against North Carolina in the national title game, and I’ve been at so many national title games that were decided on last-second plays. Keith Smart [with the buzzer-beater in the 1987 title game], for example, or upsets like Arizona when they beat three number one seeds to win the national title in 1997. I mean, there have just been so many great moments.

Tim Brando: Stanford fell behind by 10 or 12 points to Rhode Island and the whole country got us. It’s a national audience and the winning team goes to the Final Four. Rhode Island had a six-point lead with 58 seconds to play in the game and Stanford mounted an incredible comeback with some steals and slam dunks that were special on inbounds passes. One by Arthur Lee, a guard, just reached in and stole the ball away from Cuttino Mobley, who was later going to be a NBA player. Stole the ball away from him, passed it to “Mad Dog” Madsen, who later played for the Lakers, and Madsen made the dunk and got fouled. Converted a three-point play. It was unbelievable. Magnificent game, and I was very fortunate to get to do it.

Jay Bilas: Laettner’s shot against Kentucky in 1992 would be one. The other would probably be Kris Jenkins’ shot against North Carolina in 2016 that won the game. [For a post-game interview], probably, interviewing Tom Izzo after [Michigan State] won in 2000 I’d say. A guy who had won his first championship, and it had been a difficult year and they had guys hurt, and just seeing that. Sometimes the variance between winning and losing, you know, the high of winning and the low of losing, is pretty compelling stuff.

Which team from your years of covering the tournament sticks out to you the most?

Elmore: I would have to say the team that stuck out to me the most was probably [2006] George Mason. What were they, an 11 seed? A bunch of no-name guys who just played for a coach in Jim Larranaga, who essentially just kind of put them together with spit and glue and motivating with catchy phrases and things of that nature. But as I said, a bunch of no-name guys. None of them were blue-chip or anything, but they played with an enthusiasm. They played with a togetherness that was going to get them through it. They had no fear.

Brando: Butler went to the Final Four and I had them. Mike Gminski and I were the announcers for their first two rounds in both of those seasons, in 2010 and 2011. They weren’t a high seed. They were in the 8-9 game. In 2011, they barely beat Old Dominion in the first game on a tip in at the buzzer. Then in the next game, they played the top seed, Pittsburgh. Butler ran the same play that won the first game and won it at the buzzer.  

I remember the players on that team. (Matt) Howard was the kid that tipped it in. Shelvin Mack was a great guard for that team in 2011. Gordon Hayward was on the team in 2010. I had both of those teams in their first two wins of the NCAAs, and in each of those years they went on to the Final Four. At the Final Four, one year Butler lost to Duke in a game that they could’ve easily won.

In the following year, they did win the semifinal game, got to the finals and Connecticut beat them. The line that I used in Butler’s second game against Pittsburgh when they won was, “The butler did it again.” I don’t know where I came up with that. It just hit me in the moment.

Bilas: When UCLA won 10 championships in 12 years when I was younger. I grew up in sort of the backyard of Westwood, so that will always stand out as the number one accomplishment in basketball to me.

DeCourcy: I got to see Kentucky play five of their six tournament games in that 1996 tournament run. To me, there was no question they were certainly the best team I’ve ever seen play in person. I’m not old enough to have seen the Walton UCLA teams in person, but I was able to watch that Kentucky team in person and it was no doubt they had eight or nine NBA players on their team. They could defend you however they wanted. They had playmakers at four positions. It was just a fabulous basketball team. They had such great energy when they played too, because they subbed in a pro every time they went to the bench.

Kellogg: Nothing can compare to my son’s team in 2012 at Ohio University making it all the way to the Sweet Sixteen. That team and that experience will always go to the top of the list for me, as a dad. In 2012, the Bobcats beat Michigan and then beat Florida to get to the Sweet Sixteen. The team almost beat North Carolina in overtime.

I didn’t get to attend any of those games in person. I watched on my iPad, and CBS actually put up a TV monitor for me in the Sweet Sixteen game because our game was staggered. The game I was broadcasting started about 30 minutes after my son’s game started, but I was able to watch a good portion of my son’s game. If I had to pick a team, that’s going to be the team. And obviously Nick being a part of it. That was really, really special.

PART ONE: Playing memories and first games
PART TWO: All about upsets
PART THREE: Specific standout moments and teams
PART FOUR: Changes in coverage and the one-and-done rule
PART FIVE: The enduring popularity of March Madness