San Antonio is a basketball town, and not just because we’re the home of the five-time NBA champion San Antonio Spurs. It’s also because the Alamodome has hosted some amazing March Madness moments.
Over the years, teams have either punched their ticket to the Final Four or clinched national championships. And we’re here to remember some of the best moments that keep bringing the NCAA Tournament back to the Alamo City.
5. Time Stands Still (Texas vs. UConn, 2003)
There are times when you watch sporting events where a big moment happens and time appears to stand still. When you look back on it, it actually went by a lot faster than you remember. But in the moment, it’s as if the world froze.
In 2003, the Texas Longhorns were a No. 1 seed playing a virtual home game in the Sweet 16 against the UConn Huskies. It was tight the whole way and Texas led by two with less than a minute left.
UConn had a big possession late and after a miss, there was a scramble, and then a UConn player went up for what looked like a game-tying layup but it was blocked at the last second. In fact, as a result of the block, the ball got stuck between the backboard and the rim.
I was standing under the basket on the other side of the court next to the Texas band. Everything seemed to go quiet. What does that mean? What happens now?
Then it all hit us. That’s a jump ball and the arrow is pointing at Texas. The Longhorns got the ball and went on to win the game, one step closer to making history.
More on that later.
4. Kentucky Comeback (Kentucky vs. Stanford, 1998)
There haven’t been many overtime games in the history of the Final Four. But wouldn’t you know it? The vert first Final Four game hosted in the City of San Antonio went into overtime.
It was an absolute classic between the eventual champion Kentucky Wildcats and the Stanford Cardinal.
Stanford was up by as many as 10 points in the second half but in the final minute, they were the ones that needed a three-pointer to tie the game and send it into overtime.
Ultimately, it was the Wildcats that won as the Cardinal couldn’t get the same magic to tie the game in the extra period. Tubby Smith, the first black head coach in the history of Kentucky basketball won a national championship in his first year.
Of course, thanks in part to future NBA champion with the Spurs Nazr Mohammed.
3. The “Meaningless” Shot (UConn vs. Duke, 2004)
It’s estimated that $100 million shifted on what many consider to be a meaningless shot. If that much money is affected, how can it be meaningless?
At the end of the 2004 Final Four matchup between the favored UConn Huskies and underdog Duke Blue Devils, Chris Duhon put up a one-legged three-pointer from about 40 feet away and it went in.
While it didn’t mean much for his team as they still lost by one, it meant a whole lot to anyone that had money on the game.
The shot meant that Duke covered the spread. And, if you can believe it, even though the Huskies won the national championship that year, there are still UConn fans that feel the pain of that “meaningless” shot going down.
2. Longhorn History (Texas vs. Michigan State, 2003)
It felt like destiny. A year before, TJ Ford, the biggest recruit in Texas history, showed that he was capable of changing the Longhorn program forever. And in 2003, he finally did.
It’s almost funny how many didn’t think that Texas deserved a No. 1 seed and they were the only No. 1 seed to get to the Final Four that year.
But among the reason that it felt like destiny was that this game was in San Antonio. And with their win over UConn two days beforehand, Longhorn fans turned the Alamodome into a sea of burnt orange, watching their team punch their ticket to their first Final Four since 1943.
And the team didn’t disappoint. They used a run at the end of the first half to establish a lead and never gave it up after that, answering every challenge and riding the home wave to the biggest victory in program history.
1. Mario’s Miracle (Kansas vs. Memphis, 2008)
We’re coming up on the 10th anniversary of arguably the greatest shot in NCAA Tournament history. For anyone that was there, it’s the gift that keeps on giving.
The Memphis Tigers had bullied their way to the national championship game with great shooting and versatile big men. Derrick Rose was the national player of the year and he was on the verge of clinching a title.
But the team’s one weakness reared its ugly head at the worst possible time. Late in the fourth quarter, Memphis had trouble knocking down free throws. And when Rose had a chance to ice the game at the line in the final seconds, he couldn’t, leaving a window open for Mario Chalmers to become a legend.
After that shot went down, there was no way the Tigers could recover. While overtime was tight, the ending felt like a foregone conclusion. Rock, chalk, championship. The Jayhawks went home with the title.