Being up double digits with half a minute to play, the team with the lead wins, right? Well not if you are Northern Iowa. On Sunday night, basketball fans everywhere saw not only one of the greatest comebacks in NCAA Tournament history, but also one of if not the greatest choke jobs in Tournament history.
Texas A&M was down 69-59 with 30 seconds left to play. All hope was lost, until a miracle occurred. Over the last 31 seconds of regulation, the Aggies went on a furious 14-2 run to force overtime in the second round of the NCAA Tournament. During the final half minute of play, the Panthers of Northern Iowa committed four turnovers and scored just one bucket, which led to a double-overtime night.
The Aggies had no business whatsoever to even force overtime, but they somehow found a way to make it happen. This was more about the collapse than the comeback. Get the ball inbounds, protect the ball and knock down free throws. Someone forgot to inform Northern Iowa how to handle these kinds of situations.
The third-seeded Aggies will now advance to the Sweet 16, while the Panthers will forever be questioning what happened during the final half minute of play in regulation.
Here’s how the final 31 seconds of regulation played out:
30 seconds remaining- Northern Iowa turnover
26 seconds remaining- Texas A&M scores on a layup (69-61)
23 seconds remaining- Northern Iowa turnover
21 seconds remaining- Texas A&M dunk (69-63), followed by a Northern Iowa turnover
20 seconds remaining- Texas A&M three pointer (69-66)
17 seconds remaining- Northern Iowa dunk (71-66)
12 seconds remaining- Texas A&M layup (71-68), Northern Iowa foul, Texas A&M free throw (71-69)
5 seconds remaining- Northern Iowa turnover,
3 seconds remaining- Texas A&M layup (71-71)
That is an awful lot to happen in the final 30 seconds of a basketball game. Neither team was able to gain the upper hand in the extra session and yet again the Panthers committed a bone-headed play. After an A&M made basket to tie the game at 83, Paul Jesperson, the hero of the first round game against Texas (he hit a game-winning, half-court buzzer beater), launched another half-court shot to try and win this game. The problem with this shot is there was three seconds on the clock, enough time to take a couple more dribbles to get closer to the hoop. This might be the worst shot attempt since Carlton stole the ball from Will to launch a badly missed game-winning attempt on the Fresh Prince of Bel Air.
The Aggies were able to outscore the Panthers 9-5 in the second overtime to somehow win the game.
This is by far the biggest choke job I have witnessed in all my time watching the NCAA Tournament. Texas A&M will advance and live to see another day. Northern Iowa will be hurting from this loss for quite some time.
March Madness is definitely living up to the madness this year.