This is why everyone loves March Madness.
You could just declare a champion without even playing it out, end the NCAA Tournament now, and it would still be one to remember.
Last weekend's regional finals provided for some of the most exciting basketball games seen since the NCAA Tournament expanded to 64 teams. Three of the four games went into overtime — the first time more than two regional finals required an extra period — as Illinois, North Carolina, Louisville and (surprise) Michigan State punched their tickets to the Final Four in St. Louis.
It will be hard for the Final Four to top what we've already seen. So in light of all the “top 5 greatest shots” or “top 10 biggest upsets” that you see counted down from the NCAA Tournament this time of year, why not take this opportunity to countdown the best of the 2005 tourney? Here it is — the best five moments of the 2005 NCAA Tournament (and we haven't even reached the Final Four):
5. West Virginia shocks the country by knocking out second-seeded Wake Forest 111-105 in double overtime in the second round of the Albuquerque Regional.
Before the regional, it was easily the most thrilling game of the tournament. Wake Forest was the most popular pick to come out of the Albuquerque region among analysts, “experts” and in office pools across the country. The Demon Deacons would go only as far as their star point guard Chris Paul would take them — unfortunately for them he fouled out in the second overtime. Then Mountaineer guard Mike Gansey stole the show by making big shot after big shot. West Virginia proceeded to knock off Texas Tech before losing in the Elite Eight to Louisville, and now everyone knows who the coolest name of the 2005 tourney belongs to — Mountaineer center Kevin Pittsnogle.
4. Illinois passes their first real test of the tournament in their amazing comeback win in overtime against Arizona, 90-89.
This may depend on your point of view — if you wanted to see the Wildcats win, you might say they choked. If you had Illinois going all the way in your bracket, you probably believe the Illini willed their way to victory. They were put to the test by a hot Arizona team and faced a 15-point deficit with four minutes to go, and an eight-point deficit with about a minute left. Then they forced overtime and, well, you know the rest. Kudos to Illinois guard Deron Williams, who led the comeback charge and may just be the best point guard in the country.
3. The No. 12 seeded Wisconsin-Milwaukee Panthers, stun fifth-seeded Alabama and fourth-seeded Boston College to claim 2005's Cinderella story.
It was a great run, but the glass sneaker didn't fit too well as their run ended with the date they had in the Sweet 16 against Illinois. But there's nothing to be ashamed of — for a little while the country knew the names of forwards Joah Tucker and Adrian Tigert, not to mention head coach Bruce Pearl who saw the team from the Horizon League make believers out of the nation.
2. Kentucky's Patrick Sparks forces overtime in the Austin Regional Final against Michigan State with a miracle three-pointer that danced around the rim for what seemed like eternity.
The shot seemed like it would never come down. Nevermind the fact that the officials had to review the video over and over and over just to make sure his foot was behind the three-point line. Heck, nobody's really is sure whether or not it was. What we are sure of is it was a miracle that provided great drama for the double-overtime thriller, even if the Wildcats did lose 94-88.
1. The 14th-seeded Bucknell Bison pull off the impossible, upsetting third-seeded Kansas 64-63 in the first round of the Syracuse regional