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Ranking all 67 games of the 2014 NCAA Tournament

Talking about a season that starts in seven months is cool and all, but the grand finale to 2013-14 that we all just experienced was so fulfilling that it deserves one final look.

Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports

I've always believed that the ability to let go of things is a coward's trait. It's why I refuse to buy a new CD until Pac returns, and why I'm still waiting around for the preschool crush whose name I can't remember.

It's also why I'm about to rank every single game of the 2014 NCAA Tournament from worst to first.

67. 2) Wisconsin 75, American 35 (Round of 64)

Wisconsin's run to the Final Four began with a trouncing of the Patriot League champions that was over midway through the first half. There were other games that were at least equally uninteresting, but owning the margin of victory record earns this one the title of worst of the 2014 tournament.

66. 1) Wichita State 64, 16) Cal Poly 37 (Round of 64)

The "team with a losing record thing" was cute earlier in the week, but Cal Poly proved that it didn't belong pretty early on in this one. Wichita State was really the only one of the four No. 1 seeds that was dominant in the round of 64, which I guess is a bit ironic considering what happened a round later.

65. 6) Baylor 85, 3) Creighton 55 (Round of 32)

Not a game you'd expect to see in this spot, but the Bears gave all media members ample time to start penning their farewells to Doug McDermott. McDermott, who led the nation in scoring at 27.0 points per game last season, finished with 15 but had just three in the first half as Baylor built a 20-point lead they never let diminish.

64. 9) Pittsburgh 77, 8) Colorado 48 (Round of 64)

Just making the tournament was a solid accomplishment for Colorado, who lost star Spencer Dinwiddie and their chances of being a legitimate Final Four threat in mid-January. They played like a team well aware of that fact.

63. 2) Michigan 57, 15) Wofford 40 (Round of 64)

This game happened. I don't remember anything about it, you don't remember anything about it, but the records prove that it did, in fact, take place.

62. 3) Syracuse 77, 14) Western Michigan 53 (Round of 64)

I believed that Western Michigan would win this game. I was proven very incorrect.

61. 7) Oregon 87, 10) BYU 68 (Round of 64)

The reluctance of either team to get into a halfcourt set made this fun to watch for brief periods, but the absence of BYU's Kyle Collinsworth made it impossible to recreate the excitement of the regular season meeting between these two. Oregon won that game in overtime, but had this one well in hand before the final under 8 timeout.

60. 4) San Diego State 63, 12) North Dakota State 44 (Round of 32)

An ugly game, but one that will still likely be remembered for some time because of NDSU head coach Saul Phillips' postgame press conference.

59. 11) Tennessee 83, 14) Mercer 63 (Round of 32)

The darlings of the round of 64 had no answer for Tennessee's frontcourt. Jarnell Stokes had 17 points and a career-high 18 rebounds to lead the Vols into the Sweet 16.

58. 1) Arizona 84, 8) Gonzaga 61 (Round of 32)

Aaron Gordon put on a show and single-handedly showcased the next-level talent disparity between the two teams. Afterward, Gonzaga coach Mark Few called Arizona "as good of a team as we have faced that I can remember."

57. 11) Tennessee 86, 6) Massachusetts 67 (Round of 64)

The "upset" that seemingly 95 percent of the college basketball world saw coming came to fruition in a predictable one-sided fashion.

56. 1) Virginia 78, 8) Memphis 60 (Round of 32)

The Cavaliers imposed their will on Memphis early and led from start to finish. The easy victory allowed UVA to march on to the Sweet 16 for the first time since 1995.

55. 4) UCLA 76, 13) Tulsa 59 (Round of 64)

What would ultimately wind up being Danny Manning's last game with Tulsa was interesting for spells. The Golden Hurricane made a couple of second half runs to keep viewers entertained, but could never get over the hump...or keep UCLA from answering with major runs of their own.

54. 2) Wisconsin 69, 6) Baylor 52 (Sweet 16)

Baylor was as bad in the Sweet 16 as they were good a round earlier against Creighton, a fitting end for a team that had the nation wondering how they could have started 2-8 in Big 12 play a couple months earlier.

53. 3) Iowa State 93, 14) NC Central 75 (Round of 64)

The game was never really in doubt, but will be remembered for the season-ending injury suffered by Georges Niang as well as the emotional photographs of NC Central coach LeVelle Moton and his seniors in the closing seconds.

52. 2) Villanova 73, 15) Milwaukee 53 (Round of 64)

The Wildcats attempted to put to bed the doubters who said they didn't deserve to be a No. 2 seed with a first-game rout of overmatched Milwaukee. This will be the last time we see the Panthers in any March tournament for a couple of years, as they were recently banned from the 2015 postseason because of poor APR scores.

51. 4) UCLA 77, 12) Stephen F. Austin 60 (Round of 32)

A last-minute miracle bought the Lumberjacks another game, but they came up about five crazy four-point plays short of taking out the Bruins and living to play another weekend.

50. 16) Albany 71, 16) Mount St. Mary's 64 (Round of 64)

You watched it. You did. Remember those Albany uniforms that looked like something you'd see in a bad basketball scene from a 90s sitcom? Those were the days, man.

49. 2) Michigan 79, 7) Texas 65 (Round of 32)

Michigan set a program record for made three-pointers in an NCAA Tournament game and John Beilein picked up his 700th career win. Despite hitting just 4-of-12 shots form the field, Nik Stauskas hit all three-pointers, pushing him to a 17-point, eight-assist night.

48. 4) Louisville 66, 5) Saint Louis 51 (Round of 32)

This game was borderline unwatchable for most of the first half, with neither team appearing particularly interested in holding onto the ball or making shots when they got that far. Saint Louis briefly took a lead in the second half before Luke Hancock took over and led the Cardinals back to the Sweet 16 for a third straight year.

47. 6) Baylor 74, 11) Nebraska 60 (Round of 64)

It was hard to watch, poorly officiated and Tim Miles got tossed. Also, Baylor won pretty handily.

46. 12) NC State 74, 12) Xavier 59 (First Four)

T.J. Warren put on a show in the second half and there were no other games to watch. Also known as the perfect recipe for a slightly below average sports night.

45. 4) Michigan State 93, 13) Delaware 78 (Round of 64)

This was most notable for Adreian Payne scoring a career-high 41 points and setting an NCAA Tournament record for most made free-throws without a miss (17), but Delaware was also able to score enough to keep the overall game at least somewhat interesting.

44. 8) Kentucky 56, 9) Kansas State 49 (Round of 64)

This was the Funny People of Kentucky's run to the national title game. They can't all be classics, I guess.

43. 3) Creighton 76, 14) Louisiana-Lafayette 66 (Round of 64)

Doug McDermott scored 30 points and sharpshooter Etahn Wragge made three huge momentum-changing shots in the second half to help the Bluejays avoid an embarrassing one-and-done performance in the big dance.

42. 1) Florida 67, 16) Albany 55 (Round of 64)

The Great Danes led for a solid chunk of the first half and refused to go away after the break. Florida then finally realized how much bigger it was than their opponents, and scored their final 10 field goals of the game in the paint.

41. 1) Florida 61, 9) Pittsburgh 45 (Round of 32)

Is it just me, or is the solo game on the first Saturday of the tournament always kind of a clunker? Maybe it's just because we're so used to the constant stimulation that the four simultaneous games at all hours phenomenon has provided us with over the previous two days. Pitt kept things close for most of the first half, but left us all wondering what the world of non-tournament television had going on during the second.


Photo credit: Photo credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

40. 8) Gonzaga 85, 9) Oklahoma State 77 (Round of 64)

I told you a thousand times that Gonzaga was going to win this game, and I'm certain that not all of you listened. Congratulations to Marcus Smart and Oklahoma State, the recipients of "The Arizona" for the 2013-14 season.

Also, I'm sorry again about that Western Michigan recommendation. That's on me.

39. 16) Cal Poly 81, 16) Texas Southern 69 (First Four)

A team with a losing record winning a game in the NCAA Tournament. Adorable March fun for the entire family.

38. 7) Connecticut 77, 2) Villanova 65 (Round of 32)

At the time, this was less about Connecticut and more about Villanova being exposed as the fraud so much of the sports world believed them to be. Eventually, this would become more about the Huskies.

37. 1) Arizona 68, 16) Weber State 59 (Round of 64)

Another shaky performance from a No. 1 seed that captured the attention of the viewing public. This one was different from the other two, as Arizona actually started fast before letting down and allowing their fellow Wildcats to make a run and produce a respectable final score.

36. 2) Kansas 80, 15) Eastern Kentucky 69 (Round of 64)

This was supposed to be Kansas' scary "survive and advance" moment that allowed the Jayhawks to relax and begin their run to the Final Four. It didn't exactly play out like that. Also, I'll love you forever, Eric Stutz's hair.


35. 1) Florida 79, 4) UCLA 68 (Sweet 16)

The Gators improved to 4-0 all-time against UCLA in the NCAA Tournament by winning a game that was highly entertaining for spells, but one where it was also always apparent that Florida was the superior team.

34. 10) Stanford 58, 7) New Mexico 53 (Round of 64)

New Mexico's season came to yet another disappointing end as they started slow and ultimately fell to a Stanford squad making its first appearance in the big dance since 2008. Chasson Randle led the Cardinal with 24 points.

33. 11) Dayton 82, 10) Stanford 72 (Sweet 16)

Jordan Sibert scored 18 points and freshman Kendall Pollard added a season-high 12 as the Flyers held onto a solid lead for nearly the entirety of the game. Meanwhile, students on the campus of the University of Dayton celebrated the achievement with tepid applause.

32. 8) Memphis 71, 9) George Washington 66 (Round of 64)

The Tigers held a decent advantage for most of the game, but nearly collapsed in the closing seconds. George Washington had two chances to tie in the final minute, but misfired on both.

31. 1) Florida 62, 11) Dayton 52 (Elite 8)

The Gators finally got over the hump and broke their three-year Elite 8 losing streak with a solid performance against a gritty Dayton squad that never went away.

30. 7) Connecticut 63, 1) Florida 53 (Final Four)

The opening game of the Final Four wasn't exactly an instant classic. UConn prevented Florida from becoming the third straight overall No. 1 seed to win the national title by beating the Gators for the second time in 2013-14. Florida raced out to a quick 16-4 lead...and then just kind of stopped playing. They never really got started again in one of the more bizarre laid egg performances in recent memory.

29. 2) Wisconsin 85, 7) Oregon 77 (Round of 32)

Oregon owned the first 20 minutes at the Bradley Center, carrying a 12-point lead into the break. The Badgers responded by opening the second half with a 25-10 run that allowed them to momentarily seize an advantage. The teams then traded body blows before Wisconsin was able to string together the game's final run. The game's marquee moment occurred in the final two minutes with Oregon clinging to a 75-74 lead. Wisconsin would grab offensive rebounds on three-pointer, a 15-foot jumper and a missed lay-up before Ben Brust finally stuck a trey to give Bucky a lead it wouldn't relinquish.

28. 1) Virginia 70, 16) Coastal Carolina 59 (Round of 64)

Every tournament seems to have a defining "1/16 game scare" these days, and this was the 2014 version. The Cavaliers trailed by as many as 10 in the first half and by five at the break. They didn't take the lead for good until there were just nine minutes left to play. Virginia shot 65 percent (13 for 20) after halftime -- including 6 for 10 from 3-point range -- to avoid becoming the most infamous history-makers in college hoops history.

27. 4) Louisville 71, 13) Manhattan 64 (Round of 64)

Steve Masiello had a perfect gameplan and a three-point lead on the defending national champions with less than four minutes to play. Then Russ Smith buried a three to tie things up, and Luke Hancock added a pair of triples to kill the Jaspers' dream. Jordan Conn has a terrific behind-the-scenes look at the days leading up to the game and the preparation that almost resulted in a Manhattan upset.

26. 4) Michigan State 80, 12) Harvard 73 (Round of 32)

After leading by 14 at halftime and by as a many as 16 in the second half, Michigan State found itself down two and facing elimination with 7:11 to play following a Lauren Rivard three-pointer. The Spartans answered by doing what tournament favorites are supposed to do in these moments, and went on an 8-0 run spearheaded by a pair of threes from Travis Trice and Gary Harris. The run put Sparty back in control and stayed there despite some gutty plays from Rivard and Crimson star Wesley Saunders. Branden Dawson played the role of unlikely hero with a career-high 26 points on 12-of-15 shooting.

25. 7) Connecticut 60, 4) Michigan State 54 (Elite 8)

UConn shot under 35 percent for the game, but had the best player inside Madison Square Garden (and in the tournament) to lift them into the Final Four. Shabazz Napier scored 25 points and had an answer every time the Spartans attempted to mount a charge.


24. 11) Tennessee 78, 11) Iowa 65 (OT) (First Four)

Overtime would become a theme in the 2014 NCAA Tournament, and one which began in Dayton. Iowa led for most of the game, but wound up putting a cap on a disappointing end of the season run which saw them lose seven of their last eight games.

23. 7) Connecticut 81, 3) Iowa State 76 (Sweet 16)

This is when UConn's tournament run got real. The Huskies got a huge game (27 points, 10 rebounds) from DeAndre Daniels and buried 11 of 12 free-throws in the game's final 47 seconds to pull their second straight upset.

22. 7) Connecticut 60, 8) Kentucky 54 (National Championship Game)

You always want the season's final game to be one of the best, but that isn't always the case. It certainly wasn't the worst title game of the past decade or anything ('sup, 2011 UConn/Butler), but it also wasn't in the vicinity of last year's classic between Louisville and Michigan or the 2010 Duke/Butler clash.

21. 4) San Diego State 73, 13) New Mexico State 69 (OT) (Round of 64)

The fourth and final overtime game of  the opening Thursday was the day's final game in all respects, ending after 1 a.m. on the East Coast. San Diego State led throughout but blew a seven-point lead in the final minute, the last of which slipped away on Kevin Aronis' bomb which tied the game up in the closing seconds. SDSU star Xavier Thames scored the first basket of overtime and made three of four free-throws down the stretch to help the Aztecs avoid the upset.

20. 1) Arizona 70, 4) San Diego State 64 (Sweet 16)

SDSU did everything right in the first half, including holding Pac 12 Player of the Year and Naismith Award finalist Nick Johnson to 0-for-7 from the field and no points. Meanwhile, the Aztecs' own league POY, Xavier Thames, was having no trouble putting the ball in the basket and carrying his team to a 32-28 halftime advantage.

The tide of a back-and-forth second half changed completely when Johnson saw one of his shots -- a layup with 2:45 left in the game -- go through the net for the first time. The All-American wound up scoring Arizona's next 13 points, and his 10-for-10 free-throw shooting kept San Diego State from having any shot at pulling off a furious rally.

19. 12) North Dakota State 80, 5) Oklahoma 75 (OT) (Round of 64)

Trailing Oklahoma by three with 18 seconds to go, North Dakota State called a timeout and drew up a play for star senior Taylor Braun. The Sooners made sure that Braun wasn't going to beat them (or take them to overtime), however, and forced him to kick the ball out to junior point guard Lawrence Alexander.

Alexander was up for the moment.


NDSU scored the first four points of overtime, and then got four surprise points from freshman Carlin Dupree -- who had to enter the game after Braun fouled out -- in the final 75 seconds to put things away.

18.12) Harvard 61, 5) Cincinnati 57 (Round of 64)

Harvard proved itself worthy of being a trendy upset pick for a second consecutive season by bouncing the offensively-challenged Bearcats to win their second game in the big dance in as many years.

17. 7) Connecticut 89, 10) Saint Joseph's 81 (OT) (Round of 64)

For much of the evening on opening Friday, it appeared as though the eventual 2014 national champions were going to play just one game in the tournament. They trailed by three with just 49 seconds to play, but got a three-point play to even the score and send the game to overtime. It was all UConn in the extra period, as the Huskies scored 19 points and started a trend of clutch free-throw shooting that would ultimately carry them to the title.

16. 5) Saint Louis 83, 12) N.C. State 80 (OT) (Round of 64)

N.C. State led by as many as 16 in the second half, but a collapse spearheaded by missed free-throws resulted in a round of 64 exit and the end of perfect billion dollar bracket dreams. I'm not bitter though. I'm not bitter at all. That's not a Cat Barber dartboard in my bedroom or anything. I don't own that Mark Gottfried urinal you're looking at.

15. 2) Michigan 73, 11) Tennessee 71 (Sweet 16)

It got very dicey in the closing seconds as Michigan nearly squandered a 15-point second half lead thanks in large part to an inability to successfully throw the ball inbounds. Tennessee had the ball and a chance to take the lead with just seconds left, but Jarnell Stokes was whistled for a questionable offensive foul and Nik Stauskas buried a pair of game-sealing free-throws on the other end.

14. 10) Stanford 60, 2) Kansas 57 (Round of 32)

The biggest upset of the round of 32 featured the Cardinal holding KU to just 32.8 percent shooting from the field and winning the rebounding battle by two. Kansas big man Tarik Black did his best to make up for the absence of Joel Embiid by scoring a team-high 18 points, but he was the only one of Bill Self's starters who managed to score in double figures. Andrew Wiggins was a total non-factor in what would be his final college game, attempting just six shots and finishing with as many turnovers (4) as points.

Dwight Powell led the Cardinal with 15 points and Chasson Randle chipped in 13, as Stanford finished the game with a 44.7 field goal percentage despite not making a single three-point shot.

13. 14) Mercer 78, 3) Duke 71 (Round of 64)

Two words: Nae Nae.

12. 7) Texas 87, 10) Arizona State 85 (Round of 64)

The only legitimate buzzer-beater of the tournament came from this game, which may not have been a classic for the first 39:58, but was in the final two seconds.

11. 11) Dayton 55, 3) Syracuse 53 (Round of 32)

Tyler Ennis, the main catalyst to that 25-0 start and the player who became known for his late-game heroics after beating Pittsburgh at the buzzer in February, had a good look at a potential game-winning three-pointer at the buzzer, but found all iron. The final shot capped off an evening where Syracuse failed to make a single three-pointer, finishing the game 0-10.

Again, University of Dayton students sipped wine, nodded slowly and then went back to discussing foreign affairs.

10. 6) North Carolina 79, 11) Providence 77 (Round of 64)

Bryce Cotton finally got his moment in the spotlight, and he took full advantage. The Providence senior who has been one of college basketball's most unheralded stars since the late '90s (or last three years) dropped a career-high 36 points on North Carolina, but it was three short of the number he needed to carry his squad into the next round.

9. 11) Dayton 60, 6) Ohio State 59 (Round of 64)

The first game of the first Thursday still stands up as one of the tournament's best. After Aaron Craft's layup put the Buckeyes back up one with a little more than 17 seconds remaining, it was senior guard Vee Sanford who played hero for Dayton, hitting a runner with just 3.8 seconds to play. Craft then missed the potential game-winner on the other end and the "and when it's done" moment of the tournament was subsequently captured.


8. 3) Iowa State 85, 6) North Carolina 83 (Round of 32)

The undermanned Cyclones trailed for the first 16 minutes of the second half, and found themselves down 76-68 with 3:56 to play. Then Melvin Ejim, DeAndre Kane and Naz Long went to work. The result was Iowa State putting itself in a position to take the last shot in a game tied at 83.

Kane, the controversial transfer from Marshall who was considered a character risk when he came to Ames, was up for the moment.

And then things got a little weird, which is a shame. The clock didn't start when North Carolina inbounded the ball, the clock operator attempted to correct his mistake by making more time run off, UNC tried to call a timeout and then the officials gathered for the all-too-familiar 30-minute monitor session to try and get things untangled. The conclusion was that the game was over, which both sides seemed to agree with.

7. 4) Michigan State 61, 1) Virginia 59 (Sweet 16)

Branden Dawson continued his big tournament with 24 points and 10 rebounds to help lift the Spartans over the top-seeded Cavaliers in a game that didn't feel like (and technically wasn't) an upset. With less than a minute remaining, Adreian Payne hit a three off of a pick-and-pop with Keith Appling near the top of the key to put MSU up, 54-51. The Spartans would never give that lead up.

6. 8) Kentucky 84, 4) Louisville 79 (Sweet 16)

The Battle for the Bluegrass certainly did not disappoint, and looked for a long time like it might wind up being the best game of the tournament. The tilt was also significant for kicking off the Aaron Harrison Hero Tour, as the freshman guard buried a final minute three-pointer from the left corner to put Kentucky up for good. Louisville had two chances to tie, but Wayne Blackshear missed 1-of-2 free-throws and Russ Smith couldn't connect on a three-pointer one possession later.

5. 12) Stephen F. Austin 77, 5) VCU 75 (OT) (Round of 64)

The Lumberjacks trailed for most of the game's 40 minutes, including by 11 with seven minutes to play and a 65-59 deficit with just 56 ticks left. VCU then missed four of its next five free-throws to leave the proverbial door ajar. Still, a Briante Weber freebie pushed the lead to four and made it a two possession game with 21 seconds to play.

At least that's what we all thought.

JeQuan Lewis was hit with a questionable foul call on a made three-pointer to send the game into overtime. To make matters worse, Lewis wound go on to miss a wide-open trey at the buzzer which would have won the game for the Rams.

4. 2) Wisconsin 64, Arizona 63 (OT) (Elite 8)

The record-setting seventh overtime game of the tournament featured a botched inbounds play in the final seconds that could have given Arizona the win, another huge performance from breakout Badger star Frank Kaminsky and ultimately Wisconsin's first trip to the Final Four under Bo Ryan.

3. 8) Kentucky 75, 2) Michigan 72 (Elite 8)

This would probably have been the game of the tournament in most other years. Both teams featured balanced attacks, they made huge plays with the game on the line and handled the pressure of the moment as well as could be expected. The only difference was that Kentucky had the ball last and had Aaron Harrison on their team.


2. 8) Kentucky 74, 2) Wisconsin 73 (Final 4)

It's pretty hard to differentiate between this game and the one preceding it, but this gets the nod at No. 2 thanks to the facts that Harrison's last-second shot was both deeper and with his team trailing, and because it came in the Final Four.

1. 8) Kentucky 78, 1) Wichita State 76 (Round of 32)

There's a part of me that thinks I'm giving this game more credence simply because it came before the next three Kentucky classics, but I still can't shake the belief that this was the best-played, highest-quality game of the entire tournament. No one got a worse shake from the Selection Committee than Wichita State, and if there's one huge negative to an otherwise overwhelmingly positive tournament, it's that we didn't get to see the Shockers in the second weekend.