The Best NCAA March Madness Games to Watch Before This Year’s Tournament
Every year some of the most talented players from all over the US come together and compete in NCAA’s March Madness. International sensations like Zach Edey make their way to colleges in the US to show off their talent, while local recruits are just looking for a chance to shine.
March Madness is full of ups and downs — if you’ve ever watched an entire tournament before, you already know what’s in store. Which underdogs are going to make a run for the title? Which favored team is going to crumble early on? You have plenty much to look forward to, with the everlasting potential of adding another game to the list of best NCAA March Madness games.
For example, the NCAA revealed March Madness has only seen 17 games where the point total has reached over 200 points. Pete Maravich, who was a 5x NBA All-Star, averaged 44.2 points during his college career and was always amazing to watch during March Madness. From future NBA stars to local hoop heroes, March Madness is bound to include some of the best basketball you’ve ever seen.
Table of ContentsWhat Will You See in the Most Memorable March Madness Games?
The 10 Best NCAA March Madness Games
What Will You See in the Most Memorable March Madness Games?
The greatest games always have similar components, as it’s what makes them so memorable. It’s hard to deny a ridiculous shot or highlight dunk, but these games are like an hour-long highlight reel themselves.
Whether it’s a big-name player making his first appearance on the court, dominant performances, or Cinderella stories, the most memorable March Madness games often include one or more of these elements.
🏀 Underdog Stories (Cinderella Runs)
Teams overlooked and considered a wash from the beginning turn up the heat and compete with the nation’s top teams. Underdog stories are always amazing to watch, as you see players who are considered “less-skilled” rise to the occasion and beat other NCAA basketball teams riddled with stars.
🏀 Comeback Wins
Who can forget a team refusing to give up and coming from behind to win it all? Only a few squads have overcome deficits of 30 points or more to come back and win in D1 NCAA history. Trailing 30 points and coming back to win is rare, but March Madness is never short on comeback wins for smaller deficits.
🏀 Dominant Performances
Sometimes players just get hot and can’t be stopped. The perfect example of a dominant performance would be Bill Walton for UCLA in 1973 — he shot 22 for 24 from the field and finished with 44 points and 13 rebounds. He led the way as a one-man wrecking crew and helped UCLA clinch the NCAA March Madness Final.
🏀 Memorable Names
Michael Jordan is arguably the greatest basketball player to ever live, and he played in the NCAA for three years with the North Carolina Tar Heels. He even won them a national title as a freshman by nailing a game-winning jump shot against Georgetown in 1982! MJ is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to memorable names performing in March Madness games, as plenty of other NBA stars begin their journey to greatness in the tournament.
Why Are Some March Madness Games So Intense?
March Madness is what every single team has been waiting for. Colleges all over the US play annually for a chance to compete in March Madness, as it’s reserved for the best teams around. If you aren’t highly ranked in your division, you won’t get a chance to play; it’s quite simple.
As such, only the best players and teams compete against each other. Teams from different divisions clash and NBA Draft prospects have a chance to make a name for themselves. Think of all the hard work every player has put in up until this point! Now think about how just one loss can destroy their NCAA Championship hopes.
You’re likely looking forward to building a March Madness bracket as well. Brackets are an easy way to get even more into the tournament, since you’re guessing who you think is going to win each round. Some people put money down, while others just create brackets for fun. Regardless, it definitely increases the stakes even further.
It’s win or go home with March Madness, so the games are understandably much more intense and meaningful.
The 10 Best NCAA March Madness Games
🏆 Duke vs. Butler (2010)
Gordon Hayward, who’s currently the starting Small Forward for the NBA’s Charlotte Hornets, almost destroyed everybody’s bracket with a last-second heave from half-court. Butler would make it to the National Title game again in 2011, but 2010 is when they came the closest to winning.
They were massive underdogs at the start of the tournament, and came incredibly close, but fell short of shocking the Duke Blue Devils.
Hayward tossed a shot up as the buzzer sounded and almost secured the win for Butler, but ultimately missed and left Duke to take home the title.
🏆 NC State vs. Houston (1983)
Hakeem Olajuwon and Clyde Drexler were leading the way for Houston throughout the tournament, both of which would turn into future NBA Hall of Famers. In the early 80s, Houston was a force to be reckoned with. NC State had little to no star power, with their best players being Thurl Bailey, and undersized guards Sidney Lowe and Dereck Whittenburg.
NC State kept the game super close, and it was just enough for Whittenburg to heave a desperation shot to keep their title hopes alive — a shot ending up in Lorenzo Charles’ hands for a surprise buzzer-beater dunk. NC State beat the overpowered Houston team on a completely unintentional play!
🏆 Indiana vs. Syracuse (1987)
Syracuse looked like they were finally going to claim their first NCAA March Madness title in the dying seconds; all Derrick Coleman needed to do was hit a few clutch free throws to put the lead out of reach.
Unfortunately, he would miss the first shot of a one-and-one and leave enough time for Keith Smart to drain a dagger with under five seconds remaining. This led the Hoosiers to their fifth national title, and it’s still their most recent to this day.
🏆 North Carolina vs. Georgetown (1982)
This is the game where Michael Jordan carried the team to victory as a freshman. Michael Jordan even stated this was an important moment in his life, and it helped him become what many would consider the greatest basketball player of all time.
Even in a moment where pressure could crush you, a young and unproven Michael Jordan hit a jump shot with 17 seconds left in the game. If you need even more reason to watch, other NBA stars like James Worthy, Patrick Ewing, and even Sam Perkins were also in this game.
🏆 Kansas vs. Memphis (2008)
The NCAA March Madness Finals in 2008 was a strange game, as everybody knew Memphis was a poor shooting team. John Calipari, who’s one of the more renowned coaches in the NCAA, stood confident and said his guys would “hit the shots they need to down the stretch”.
He meant well, but it didn’t happen. Memphis would miss four of five free throw attempts and blow a nine-point lead within the last two minutes of the game. Mario Chalmers, who went on to play in the NBA, nailed a three-pointer with 2.1 seconds left and sent the game into OT.
You’d think Memphis still had a chance, but Kansas bullied them in extra time to take home the win.
👑 UMBC vs. Virginia (2018)
The #16 seed is never supposed to beat the #1 seed in the first round of March Madness. It’s basically impossible, and you’d expect it to be a gritty game full of intense battles and a game-winning shot if it were to happen.
Thankfully, UMBC broke the seed stigma, dominating one of the most consistent NCAA basketball teams to ever grace the floor. They beat Virginia by 20 points and shot a whopping 54.2% from the floor — meaning at least every other shot they took as a team was going in!
🏆 Michigan vs. North Carolina (1993)
Those of you familiar with March Madness history already know about this one. Michigan was home to the “Fab Five”, which was composed of Juwan Howard, Jalen Rose, Chris Webber, Jimmy King, and Ray Jackson — a dominant line-up changing the way people viewed collegiate basketball.
Michigan found themselves down by 2 points with seconds to go, when the ball landed in the hands of Webber. He was the team’s star, so you would expect him to at least attempt a shot, right? Unfortunately, he dribbled up the court and called a timeout.
The only issue is Michigan didn’t have any timeouts left. A technical was assessed and Duke got two free throws before retaining possession and winning the National Title.
🏆 UCLA vs. Gonzaga (2006)
Adam Morrison was known for his whacky looks, fuzzy mustache, and killer game on the court. He’s also known for being the face of Gonzaga’s collapse in 2006, where they gave up a 17-point lead to UCLA to lose in the national title game.
If the comeback wasn’t enough, the photo of Adam Morrison sitting on the floor post-game with tears streaming down his stache easily made this one of the most memorable NCAA games ever.
🏆 Villanova vs. Georgetown (1985)
Some collegiate programs just seem to be cursed in crucial moments, performing at their absolute worst when everything is on the line. Throughout the 1980s, Georgetown was a good team, with the main difference being they were still great when they lost national title games.
In this particular game, Georgetown shot 54.7% from the field and was considered the significant favorite. Although it’s stellar shooting percentage, and Georgetown played well, Villanova played even better. Villanova shot a ridiculous 78.6% from the field, and it’s often considered one of the most efficient performances as a team in NCAA March Madness history.
🏆 Villanova vs. North Carolina (2016)
Some of you may not agree with this take, but when you consider how much was at stake, this has to be one of the best March Madness games ever. The North Carolina Tar Heels and Villanova Wildcats were trading buckets (mostly 3-pointers) and with only 4.7 seconds left, UNC Guard Marcus Paige drained a three to tie the game.
It would have been the shot everybody remembered from this matchup — except the Villanova forward Kris Jenkins went on to hit a buzzer-beating three-pointer of his own to win the national title.
Download PIA and watch all of these amazing NCAA March Madness match-ups until you’ve had your fill. PIA offers unbreakable VPN encryption, blazing fast worldwide servers, and a strict No Logs policy for ultimate privacy.
Watch the Best NCAA March Madness Games Without Any Worry
Before you start watching some of my top 10 recommendations, you’ll want to make sure you’re streaming securely. Enjoy some of the most memorable moments in NCAA history without the worry of cyber threats. Get PIA VPN, connect to a VPN server nearby, and stream full March Madness games on YouTube without accidentally exposing your personal info. Our fast speeds ensure your games stay buffer-free the moment you hit play.
From rising stars like Michael Jordan cementing their NCAA legacy, to underdog squads busting brackets with a last-minute dunk, it doesn’t matter which game you plan on watching from my list. They’re all good choices, and a great way to get ready for March Madness in 2023.
Loyola Marymount vs. Michigan in the 2nd round of 1990’s March Madness is still the highest-scoring game of all time. Much like PIA is one of the fastest VPN providers, LMU is one of the fastest-scoring teams in the history of NCAA basketball.
Both teams were quite impressive, as the score was 65-58 at only halftime. Most full-time scores in D1 basketball hover around there even to this day. LMU scored an astounding 149 points themselves, defeating Michigan 149-115.
In my humble opinion, it’s Villanova vs. UNC in 2016. Kris Jenkins didn’t go on to have a stellar NBA career, but current NBA players like Donte DiVincenzo, Eric Paschall, Josh Hart, and Jalen Brunson were on the team.
They beat the favorites in UNC and did so in stellar fashion, and the fact Kris Jenkins made the shot is a cherry on top. Connect to a VPN server with PIA and re-visit the entire game without any restrictions or buffering on YouTube.
Houston is currently favored to win it all in 2023, with a record of 15-1 in the AAC and 27-2 overall. They’re undefeated on the road, so they’re used to playing alongside pressure and have a talented roster to boot.
You won’t want to miss a single possession when this team hits the floor. Thankfully, you can use PIA to keep your Houston Cougars streams steady and distraction-free all tournament long.
March Madness is the Super Bowl equivalent for NCAA basketball with millions of fans tuning in from around the world. One could argue college basketball was at its peak in the late 70s, which is when Michigan State took on Indiana State.
Two basketball legends in Magic Johnson and Larry Bird played in front of over 15,000 people at the Special Events Center in Salt Lake City, Utah. The game pulled impressive numbers for the NBC network, with 35.1 million viewers tuning in live from around the globe.