The Top ALMOST Magic Moments

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Issue 169: The Top ALMOST Magic Moments

And then there were four. A final four, if you will.

Or six, if you’re talking about the women’s tournament. But since we’re in a weird in-between phase where half the women’s Final Four has been set with the other half playing tonight, there’s no catchy name for it.

Maybe…the Studious Six? The Stupendous Six? The Savvy Six?

Whatever your favorite “S” word is, please feel free to fill it in yourself.

This issue is not about this year’s tournament, though. It’s about players that almost had heroic moments, only to be usurped by someone else later.

When I was in high school, my last “real” basketball game was a student-faculty event. Teachers vs. students in a winner take all. What was there to take? I don’t know, but we were certainly grabbing for it.

I had a horrific shooting day, starting something like 0 for 9. But with about 15 seconds left, I stole the ball and had a breakaway, with one defender hot on my tail.

Instead of going in for a quick layup, I dribbled out to the perimeter and launched a three-pointer to tie the game.


The crowd was going nuts. No one was rooting for the teachers! The fanbase was 95% students, and they’re not about to betray their fellow kids like that.

I was jubilant. Even though it was only a tie game, I fully expected to be carried off the court a la Rudy, with everyone chanting my name.

Alas, it wasn’t meant to be. The faculty team came back down the other way. One of our basketball coaches dribbled into the lane, then kicked it out to a teammate who hit a three-pointer at the buzzer.

Game, b̶l̶o̶u̶s̶e̶s̶  faculty.

I still maintain the guy that made the three-pointer was a ringer. He was allegedly a security guard at the school. However, I never saw him before that day and I never saw him again after he made that shot.

Either he’s the most invisible security guard in the world, or the teachers had hired help to beat the students.

I’m betting on the latter.

Anyway, here are four games where people were heroes for a few seconds, only to have their moment snatched away.

UNC’s Marcus Paige — 2016 National Championship 

UNC made an impressive comeback to even make this close, and when Marcus Paige hit this wild jumper, it seemed like they’d pull it off entirely and snag a win.

After a timeout, though, Villanova came down and made a three-pointer of their own at the buzzer. The Wildcats, and not UNC, won the championship.

I remember watching this game at a bar in between a table of UNC fans and Villanova fans. I got caught up in the excitement of both tables, and I’m sure the UNC fans felt betrayed when I high-fived all the Villanova people after the victory. I don’t apologize.

West Virginia’s Kevin Pittsnogle — 2006 Sweet Sixteen

Kevin Pittsnogle was a very large man who could knock down a three-pointer or two. And in fact, he did just that in the 2006 Sweet Sixteen against Texas.

West Virginia was in its second-consecutive Sweet Sixteen, while Texas was coming off a first-round loss the previous year.

So, for both teams, winning the game would be a big ol’ accomplishment that surpassed the previous year’s glory.

But Pittsnogle left five seconds on the clock, and that was enough time for Texas to get down the court, find Kenton Paulino, and keep on dancing into the Elite Eight.

Maryland’s Greivis Vásquez — 2010 Second Round

Greivis Vásquez had a VERY solid college career, and carved out a productive six seasons in the NBA, to boot.

But his 2010 ended abruptly. After he hit this shot with 6.6 seconds left (hopefully not 6.66, or else…eek! 👺), Michigan State, led by a vintage Draymond Green, hustled down the court to get one last look.

I need to point out something on Michigan State’s final possession: Draymond makes a pass to Korie Lucious, who hits the game-winning shot. But a fellow Spartan is in the way and has the wherewithal to DUCK HIS HEAD despite seemingly not really looking at the ball.

As someone who recently broke a coffee mug by holding it too loosely as I walked through a doorway in my own home, this is incredible spatial awareness.

Wisconsin’s Zak Showalter — 2017 Sweet Sixteen

This one is a little less painful because Zak Showalter had an entire overtime period to feel like the hero.

He makes a wild off-balance shot and then turns to Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers and does the QB’s “championship belt” move to him.

This was back in 2017, before Rodgers turned into the smug, arrogant, “I didn’t sign for $50 million annually at four years and $200 million, it’s three years and $150 million, you IDIOTS” type of person that he has now become, so it was a cool moment.

But then, in overtime, Florida’s Chris Chiozza said “that was lovely, and all, but I’ma send us into the Elite Eight real quick.”

And so he did. Madness.