After a one-year hiatus, the NCAA tournament returned in 2021.
In the latest edition of the March Madness 365 podcast, Andy Katz reveals his top 10 memories from this year’s tournament. Katz is also joined by Baylor head coach Scott Drew shortly after his Bears won the national championship.
You can listen to the entire episode and read more about each memory below.
10. Eric Musselman leading Arkansas to the Elite Eight
In just his second season as the head coach at Arkansas, Eric Musselman took the Razorbacks to the Elite Eight for the first time since 1995. Katz says that Musselman has made Arkansas relevant again, which is “good for the state, good for the SEC (and) good for college basketball.”
9. ‘The Hug’ between Kelvin Sampson and his family
Katz defines “The Hug” as the moment when Houston head coach Kelvin Sampson embraced his son, Kellen, and his daughter, Lauren, after the team’s Elite Eight victory over Oregon State. Sampson led the Cougars to their first Final Four appearance since 1984.
8. Cameron Krutwig’s heads-up defensive play against Ayo Dosunmu
During Loyola Chicago’s second round win against Illinois, Ramblers center Cameron Krutwig poked the ball away from Illini guard Ayo Dosunmu. As both players battled for control, the ball bounced off of Dosunmu and went out of bounds. Krutwig’s emotional reaction was one of Katz’s favorite memories from the tournament.
7. Alex Reese’s buzzer-beater against UCLA in the Sweet 16
With his team trailing UCLA 65-62 in the Sweet 16, Alabama’s Alex Reese buried a 3-pointer at the buzzer to send the game into overtime. While the Bruins would prevail, 88-78, Katz said that it was still a great moment.
6. Joe Pleasant’s two free throws help Abilene Christian stun Texas
Joe Pleasant shot just 59.6 percent from the free-throw line during the 2020-21 season. But he hit both of his foul shots to put Abilene Christian ahead, 53-52, with 1.2 seconds left against Texas in the first round. The Wildcats held on to win their first-ever NCAA tournament game.
5. Max Abmas and Kevin Obanor’s run with Oral Roberts
Oral Roberts became just the second 15-seed to make the Sweet 16, and Max Abmas and Kevin Obanor were the main reasons. The pair combined for 59 points in the Golden Eagles’ first round win over Ohio State. Obanor and Abmas then scored 28 and 26, respectively, to lead Oral Roberts to another upset victory over Florida in the second round.
4. Johnny Juzang’s NCAA tournament
Johnny Juzang averaged 22.8 points per game during the 2021 tournament. He was magnificent in the national semifinal against Gonzaga and led all scorers with 29 points on 12-of-18 shooting. Juzang was also named to the all-tournament team. Katz called his March Madness run “an effort for the ages.”
3. Baylor’s beatdown of Houston and Gonzaga in The Final Four
The Bears hammered the Cougars and Bulldogs in the Final Four. There were three early lead changes in the national semifinal before Baylor took control and never looked back. In the title game against Gonzaga, the Bears led wire-to-wire.
“That was, by far, one of the most impressive performances we have seen … of a team in the Final Four in two games,” Katz said.
2. Jalen Suggs’ block on Cody Riley and bounce pass to Drew Timme
Jalen Suggs had two memorable plays in the one sequence. First, he denied UCLA’s Cody Riley at the rim and came away with the loose ball. Then, Suggs got out in transition and fired a one-handed bounce pass to Drew Timme who finished with a slam dunk.
“Unbelievable play,” Katz said. “Athleticism off the charts. Knowing where his feet are, his teammates, that was the play of the tournament.”
1. ‘The shot of the tournament’
Katz picked what he calls “the shot of the tournament” as his top memory. He’s referring to, of course, Suggs’ game-winning 3-pointer at the buzzer against UCLA in the national semifinal.