As March Madness is almost here, we take a trip down memory lane and look back at some of the best viral moments in NCAA tournament history. Here is Maize N Brew’s take on Jordan Poole’s memorable buzzer-beater:
There was a lot of momentum for the Michigan Wolverines heading into the 2018 NCAA Tournament. Finishing with a 13-5 Big Ten record, they claimed the No. 5 seed in the Big Ten Tournament. They narrowly escaped the Iowa Hawkeyes 77-71 in overtime, then went on to defeat Nebraska quite handily, No. 1 seed Michigan State, and then No. 3 seed Purdue to claim their second consecutive Big Ten Tournament Championship.
A No. 3 seed in the NCAA Tournament, Michigan took its hot streak into the first round and easily defeated No. 14 seeded Montana. The Round of 32, however, provided a tall task that the Wolverines hadn’t seen since that Iowa game in the Big Ten Tournament.
The matchup was against the No. 6 seeded Houston Cougars. It was a game that went well into the night on the East Coast (10:02 p.m. ET tipoff — really, NCAA?). It was a hard-fought, back-and-forth game with 16 lead changes and 12 ties.
But it was the 17th lead change that was the most important of all, since it came at the final buzzer in Intrust Bank Arena in Wichita, Kansas.
With 3.6 seconds remaining on the clock, freshman forward Isaiah Livers inbounded the ball from the opposite side of the court to team captain Muhammad-Ali Abdur-Rahkman. The senior leader was tasked with getting the ball up the court. A one-handed throw by Livers got Abdur-Rahkman close to halfcourt. He was able to split two defenders and pass the ball to freshman guard Jordan Poole.
With the ball reaching Poole’s hands with 1.6 seconds left, it was evident he would be the one taking the final shot. With a defender in his face, Poole heaved up a prayer and delivered the dagger deep three-point shot to end the game, 64-63, sinking the Cougars’ championship dreams.
Poole was on the ground when the shot went in. He quickly bolted up and started running to the opposite end of the court, avoiding his teammates charging after him to celebrate what few freshmen accomplish on that big of a stage.
“I saw everybody celebrating and I always thought if I hit a shot like that, I didn’t want to get tackled, so I tried to avoid everybody,” Poole said.
“This guy is an overdose of swag,” head coach John Beilein said of Poole in a postgame television interview.
This wasn’t the first time Poole hit a buzzer-beater:
Actor Jordan Peele took to Twitter to thank his fans for “practicing his jump shot”:
Remember: Jordan Poole is the guy who made the buzzer beater.— SB Nation (@SBNation) March 19, 2018
Jordan Peele is the guy who won an Academy Award. pic.twitter.com/azqTvta3wa
One certain Michigan fan (you may be familiar with if you’re a frequent MnB reader) took to Twitter to post this incredible Ring video of his reaction after the shot:
In honor of march, I have to bring back the ring video my doorbell got after Jordan Poole’s buzzer beater... gold pic.twitter.com/KcVsjZ01sd— Scotty White (@scottywhite_) March 2, 2021
What makes this buzzer-beater so amazing is Poole only averaged 6.0 points per game his first season at Michigan. There were definitely some inconsistencies during that season; there would be times of greatness (19 points against Indiana, 15 points against Ohio State) and times of struggles (two points against Iowa, zero points against Minnesota).
Perhaps those inconsistencies led to Poole only having 11 total minutes in the game against Houston. Before that game-winner, he was just 2-of-4 from the field and 1-of-3 from his three-pointers. He had ZERO shot attempts in the entire second half leading up to the game-winner, and was a horrendous 0-of-9 from three in the Big Ten Tournament.
Needless to say, no one expected him to take the final shot of the game, let alone drill it.
But at the end of that long night in Wichita where everything seemed to be going Houston’s way, Poole helped lift Michigan to victory.
The Wolverines went on to take down Loyola Chicago and Sister Jean in the Final Four, but eventually lost to Villanova in the National Championship, a game where Poole had just three points. But if it weren’t for his eight points four games prior, Michigan would have never had the opportunity to win National Championship in the first place.