Top 5 March Madness Moments From PA Basketball Programs

Written By Corey Sharp on March 3, 2023
March Madness typically includes lots of memorable games.

March Madness provides some of the best moments of the sports year. Upsets, buzzer beaters and Cinderella teams are what makes March Madness betting so special.

Basketball in Pennsylvania runs deep with the Big 5 schools located in the Philadelphia area, Pittsburgh and a handful of other mid-majors who’ve made some noise in the dance.

PlayPennsylvania counts down the top 5 March Madness moments from PA schools in the NCAA Tournament.

Top 5 March Madness moments from PA college basketball teams

No. 5 – Last second shot lifts Temple over Penn State

An intrastate battle that came down to the wire ended with a last second shot. Temple took on Penn State in the opening round of the 2011 NCAA Tournament, when Owls’ guard Juan Fernandez hit a last-second jumper to lift Temple over the Nittany Lions, 66-64.

The win snapped Fran Dunphy’s 11-game tournament losing streak, and is the first of two Keystone State battles on the list.

Fernandez finished with 23 points and future Sixer Lavoy Allen played all 40 minutes, recording three points and 11 rebounds.

Temple would lose in the next round to Kawhi Leonard and San Diego State in double overtime.

No. 4 – No. 15 Lehigh knocks off true blue blood

Lehigh has only won one NCAA Tournament game in program history. It came in 2012, when the Patriot League champions took down mighty Duke, 75-70, in the opening round.

By far the best season in program history, Lehigh rolled through the Patriot League as CJ McCollum led the Mountain Hawks all season long.

McCollum led the team in scoring, averaging 21.9 points per contest, and scored a game-high 30 points in the upset over Duke. The Blue Devils had eight players on their roster that played in the NBA.

No. 3 – Scottie Reynolds sends Villanova to the Final Four

In one of a few intrastate battles in the tournament, Villanova and Pittsburgh faced each other in the 2009 Elite 8.

The Wildcats knocked off the Panthers, 78-76, after Scottie Reynold’s floater with a few seconds left in regulation. It sent the Wildcats to the Final Four for the first time since 1985.

Reynolds had a spectacular career for Villanova, averaging 16.0 points per game in his four years with the program.

No. 2 – Tyrone Garland’s Southwest Philly Floater

La Salle is not used to the NCAA Tournament, but the 2013 Explorers made the most of their run.

The Explorers have not made the tournament since, with their last appearance before that coming in 1992.

La Salle was one of the last teams to get into the NCAA Tournament. It earned an at-large bid as a No. 13 seed after the NCAA expanded the tournament to 68 teams. The Explorers won a play-in game against Boise State to enter the field of 64.

The Explorers knocked off the No. 4 seed Kansas State, 63-61, in the first round, and then topped Mississippi, 76-74, on the floater heard in Southwest Philly.

Tyrone Garland’s floater with two seconds left sent La Salle to the Sweet 16. In a postgame interview with Craig Sager, Garland famously named his bucket the “Southwest Philly Floater.” Garland scored 17 points off the bench for the Explorers.

La Salle’s run ended the following week with a loss to Wichita State.

No. 1 – Kris Jenkins’ shot at the buzzer

Kris Jenkins’ shot at the buzzer against North Carolina is not up for debate. It’s considered one of the best, and most clutch moments in the history of college basketball.

In a classic of a National Championship game, North Carolina’s Marcus Paige hit a circus three-pointer with six seconds left to tie it at 74. On the ensuing Villanova possession, Ryan Arcidianco brought the ball down the floor and flipped it back to Jenkins, the trailer on the play, who drilled a 35-footer at the buzzer as confetti rained down on the court.

How can you forget Jay Wright’s iconic reaction as Jenkins took the shot?

It started the dynasty Wright created at Villanova, winning his first of two National Championships as the Wildcats’ head coach.

Photo by Orlin Wagner / AP
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Corey Sharp

Corey Sharp is the Lead Writer at PlayPennsylvania bringing you comprehensive coverage of sports betting and gambling in Pennsylvania. Corey is a 4-for-4 Philly sports fan and previously worked as a writer and editor for the Philadelphia Inquirer and NBC Sports Philadelphia.

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