It’s that time of year again my friends, it’s that special time of year that you can watch amazing, action packed basketball games all day long while experiencing the upsets and everything else that comes with March Madness. Since the Kentucky Wildcats’ first season dating all the way back to 1903 there have definitely been a fair share of unforgettable moments during the NCAA tournament and March Madness. I’ve worked closely with several of the writers at UKfansallday to try and come up with what we think could possibly be the top 10 March Madness moments in Kentucky’s history. Although these will be listed 10-1, they don’t necessarily reflect which one is better than another because at the end of the day they’re all related to awesome moments by the Wildcats and each one of them is special in its own way!
Number 10: Patrick Sparks buzzer beater against Michigan State in 2005 elite 8 game.
I don’t know about you but when I hear the name “Patrick Sparks” I instantly think of a deadly three point shooter. Back in 2005 when the Wildcats were coached by Tubby Smith the Cats found themselves in a dogfight with number 5 seeded Michigan State. Kentucky was down 75-72 with 19 seconds left in regulation so of course they needed a three to force it into overtime, so who do they go to other than Sparks? In this clip you will see the spectacular shot that Patrick hit to send the game into overtime, unfortunately the Wildcats came up short in this one 94-88.
Number 9: Josh Harrellson plays dodge ball with Jared Sullinger
The 2010-2011 season was the second year under head coach John Calipari at the University of Kentucky. The previous season Calipari lead the Wildcats to an outstanding 35-3 in his first full season as UK’s head coach and this year can definitely be considered an overall success because of Kentucky’s stellar tournament run lead by 3 freshman by the names of Brandon Knight, Terrence Jones, and Doron Lamb. When number 4 seeded Kentucky met the number 1 seed in the eastern region, Ohio State, Kentucky Senior Josh Harrellson came to play and he showed us that by laying it all on the line and by showing extreme hustle when he saved the ball from going out of bounds by throwing it off of Ohio State forward, Jared Sullinger.
Number 8: Brandon Knight’s game winning shot against Ohio State in 2011
As the previous paragraph states, the 2010-2011 season was definitely lead by freshman talents Brandon Knight, Terrence Jones, and Doron Lamb which contributed for over 45 points per game combined. In the Sweet Sixteen the Wildcats were up against their biggest challenge yet in the number 1 seed, the Ohio State Buckeyes. The game was scratch and claw game from the very start, back and forth til the very end. With around 12 seconds left on the game clock Kentucky’s freshman guard, Brandon Knight, took the game into his own hands and hit a huge game winning shot to upset the Ohio State Buckeyes.
Number 7: Willie Cauley-Stein’s crazy dunk on Cincinnati Bearcats player
The 2014-2015 season was a very special season indeed with an overall record of 38-1 with the lone loss being against the Wisconsin Badgers in the Final Four of the NCAA tournament. A lot of people tend to look at negatives but as for me I like to look at the positives, and one of those would be the insane dunk that Kentucky Junior, Willie Cauley-Stein, had against the Cincinnati Bearcats in the second round of the NCAA tournament.
Number 6: James Young’s ferocious dunk on UCONN in the 2014 title game
During the 2014 season the young Wildcats were tested quite often as they had their fair share of losses, but this didn’t phase them in the least when it came time for March Madness. The Wildcats fought and clawed their way to the championship game, with the help of a few awesome shots from Kentucky guard Aaron Harrison and although the end result isn’t what we wanted to see James Young left us with a memorable moment on this play in which he had a monstrous dunk plus the foul on a uconn player.
Number 5: De’Aaron Fox drops 39 points against UCLA
Last year during the 2016-2017 season the Wildcats met the UCLA Bruins in the Sweet Sixteen in which Kentucky Freshman, De’Aaron Fox, had one of his best performances of the season. Fox was matched up against UCLA’s Lonzo Ball and dropped an outstanding 39 points in route to their win over the Bruins!
Number 4: Jack “Goose” Givens scores 41 points in 1978 Championship game vs. Duke
In the 1978 National Championship game versus the Duke Blue Devils, Kentucky player Jack “Goose” Givens went crazy and scored an outstanding 41 points in the Cats’ victory over the Blue Devils 94-88. Jack Givens received the tournaments Most Outstanding Player award and helped Head Coach Joe B. Hall win his first NCAA title for the Wildcats.
Number 3: The 1998 “Comeback Cats” beat the Duke Blue Devils in the Elite 8 from a late three pointer by Cameron Mills
In the 1998 season the Wildcats were definitely tested late in their NCAA tournament run starting off with UCLA in the Sweet Sixteen, however the Wildcats went on to defeat the Bruins 94-68. Up next for Kentucky was the Duke Blue Devils in the Elite 8, this game was a scratch and claw game from beginning to end until a huge three pointer from Kentucky player Cameron Mills. Kentucky went on to win 86-84.
Number 2: Aaron Harrison’s last second game winners in the 2014 NCAA tournament
When the 2014 season comes to mind there is only one name that sticks out to me and that is Aaron Harrison. Aaron was a crucial piece to the teams success that season and it also took a few “miracle” shots by Harrison to help the Wildcats get all the way to the Championship where they faced the number 7 seed University of Connecticut Huskies. Unfortunately, the Wildcats’ success ended there when they fell to the Huskies 60-54.
Number 1: Kentucky’s road to the 2012 NCAA Championship
This one particularly stands out to me especially over the past 20 years. I didn’t start watching Kentucky Basketball until the 1996 season but there was definitely something special about this 2012 team. They had a difficult road to the Championship game in New Orleans. This team had it all, they had freshman and they also had experience on their side as well, but one thing that you could tell that they all had was heart and that they played for the name on the front of the jersey not the back.
Although there are some memorable moments that I am sure that I am forgetting (forgive my young age), these are some of the few that specifically stick out to me in my mind. Please feel free to share with us some of your memories that you have of the Wildcats in the NCAA tournament over the years! Now that this years brackets are finally released it’s time to once again sit back and enjoy the show and see how the tournament unfolds! Be sure to continue to root on this team because a lot of people had wrote Kentucky off way earlier in the season and they proved to us that they’re willing to put in the work as they delivered the University of Kentucky their 31st SEC Championship! Make sure to follow us on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and Snapchat @UKfansallday.com and feel free to give me a follow on Twitter @JansonUKFAD!