Best NCAA moments: Comeback vs. Arizona makes the cut

Best NCAA moments: Comeback vs. Arizona makes the cut

To celebrate 75 years of March Madness, the NCAA on Tuesday released its list of the top 75 players, 25 top teams and 35 top moments of tournaments past. Illinois, having never won an NCAA title, didn't get much love. However, the amazing comeback against Arizona - which sent Bruce Weber's bunch to the Final Four - was mentioned in "moments" with other regional finals that weekend.

"March 26-27: Louisville earned a trip to the Final Four by rallying from a 19-point deficit to beat West Virginia in overtime 93-85. But that comeback paled in comparison to what Illinois had in store later in the day. Arizona led the Illini by 15 points with four minutes left but remarkably Illinois rallied to force overtime, eventually winning 90-89 in one of the greatest games in tournament history. A day later, Michigan State and Kentucky played a classic of their own, with the Spartans prevailing 94-88 in double overtime."

Here's the link

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aaeismacgychel wrote on December 11, 2012 at 2:12 pm

I would've liked to have seen the '89 or '05 team recognized, but that Elite 8 game against Arizona was certainly one of the greatest if not the greatest game in NCAA tournament history. I was a senior at Illinois at the time and was on an engineering trip up to Chicago so I watched the game at home with my family. I remember feeling sick to my stomach with about 5 minutes to go when Channing Frye hit that three and did the head roll thing putting Zona up by 12 and was almost on the verge of tears after Dee Brown's turnover about a minute later. It was at that point when my mom said, "Well, it was a good season" and left the room. Then Deron Williams hit a three and Luther Head hit a three, Dee Brown got an offensive rebound and scored and I was already going nuts. It was just one of those things where you'd never think you could get excited down 9 with what, 2 and a half minutes to go, and you just knew in your heart that Illinois was going to win that game. Then of course came the Head steal and dunk (My mom refusing to come back in the room to watch the game because she didn't want to jinx it), Deron Williams taking it the length of the court in 4 seconds for a layup and now it's a 6 point game with a minute to go. After Arizona makes two free throws, Luther Head hits a three to cut it to 5 and Arizona gets the ball in breaking the press, and you scream, "FOUL" when Dee Brown slaps at the ball, magically hits it scores on the fast break layup. I'm jumping up and down like a lunatic (along with the rest of the state of Illinois), and then came the Ingram steal and of course, THE SHOT. The rest of course is history, but what a fantastic game and year. I remember crashing a Chicago bar with about 30 other Illini students to see us beat Louisville, and then, at Assembly Hall, I watched our near miss against UNC with the 20,000 other kids who were there. Still a shame Luther Head wasn't able to make that last open three against UNC with 18 seconds left. It would've tied the game, and I was so certain it was going to go down and Illinois would win in overtime. Well, I guess my gut feelngs were 1 for 2. I still watch that game whenever it is shown on B10's Greatest Games. It'd be really nice if we could get another season like that.

As I get older, I'll probably forget a lot of things. But even if I forget everything including my own name, I know I will never forget that game. But as the years go on, I'd be happy to add a few more of those type of memories ;-)


illini4fan wrote on December 12, 2012 at 11:12 pm

I was watching that game at a local bowling ally bar with my girlfriend and other patrons and it was so amazing as when we got down there was hardly anybody left around the tv as everybody thought we were going to lose.. but as we started to come back word spread people started to fillter back to the tv, and by the time it got to the end of the game there was not a single soul actually bowling as everyone in the place was crowded around the big screen tv hoopin and hollering our beloved team to victory! It was a wonderful time!!!