With the storm that is March Madness quickly approaching, college basketball teams throughout the country are trying to pad their NCAA tournament resumes with quality wins.
Sometimes, those victories — or defeats — come down to a final shot.
Thursday night was a perfect example, as the No. 1 Indiana Hoosiers were upended at the buzzer by Illinois, a team on the NCAA tournament bubble. Out West, UCLA and Washington went down to the wire before the Bruins prevailed on a fallaway shot in the final seconds.
These incidents aren't alone. When January rolls around, the pressure and intensity to produce turns up, and the past month has created several pressure-packed games that came down to a final shot.
Here's a look at five buzzer-beaters that could have NCAA tournament implications.
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The Illini went into their matchup with the top-ranked Hoosiers having lost six of their past seven games.
Illinois, which once trailed by 14 in the second half, forced an Indiana turnover with 6.5 seconds to go. After the Hoosiers blocked a shot attempt, Illinois had one last chance with 0.9 seconds remaining to come up with a play. The winner came from senior Tyler Griffey, who took the inbounds pass and made an uncontested layup at the buzzer, giving the Illini a 74-72 victory.
For the Hoosiers, a loss like this likely won't knock them out of a No. 1 seed, unless they let let a couple more losses stack up.
For Illinois, however, this is a big win, one of several for a team that was just 2-7 in Big Ten play headed into Thursday. The Illini (16-8), who are among the "Last Four In" in ESPN's Joe Lunardi's latest Bracketology released Friday morning, can add the win over the Hoosiers to victories over Butler on a neutral court, Ohio State at home and a road victory over Gonzaga.
Up next: The Bruins pick up a much-needed Pac-12 win.
Both teams desperately needed a victory going into Thursday night's game, as the Huskies had lost four of five and UCLA had dropped three of its previous four.
With Washington trailing 57-55, former Pleasant Grove High School star C.J. Wilcox hit a driving layup with 10 seconds to go to knot the score for the Huskies.
Without taking a timeout, UCLA's lone senior, Larry Drew II, brought the ball up court, waited to find a lane, then drove, popped and hit a 15-foot fadeaway jumper at the buzzer to deliver the Bruins a much-needed win.
UCLA now sits just a game out of first place in the Pac-12, at 7-3 in league and 18-7 overall, with a pair of wins — against Missouri and Arizona — over ranked teams.
The loss may prove costly for Washington, however, which sits in the "Next Four Out" category on Lunardi's latest Bracketology. The Huskies are now 13-10 overall and 5-5 in Pac-12 play, with bad losses to Albany, Nevada and Utah.
Up next: St. Mary's Marriott Center magic hurts BYU.
Given the Cougars' Thursday night loss at San Diego, this loss takes on even more importance, as BYU's NCAA tournament resume is short on impressive victories. This one has so far been the Cougars' best chance at a victory over a quality opponent, but a pair of closing shots put BYU on the short end of the score.
Tyler Haws' fallaway jumper in the key with 2.5 seconds left appeared to be the game-winner. But St. Mary's Matthew Dellavedova had other plans, hitting a double clutch, near-midcourt shot between a pair of BYU defenders to lift the Gaels to the 70-69 victory.
Including that win, St. Mary's has now won eight straight and is a half-game behind Gonzaga in the West Coast Conference standings, upping its chances to earn an at-large bid into the NCAA tournament.
BYU, however, has lost three of its past seven, including the loss to the Gaels. The Cougars, at 18-7 and 8-3 in league play, look like they will need to win the WCC tournament to make their eighth straight NCAA tournament appearance.
Up next: A pair of Bulldogs go down to the wire.
With impressive records and national rankings in tote, both No. 14 Butler (19-4) and No. 6 Gonzaga (22-2) look like locks to make the NCAA tournament. But this game could have seeding implications for both teams come Selection Sunday.
Butler's chances to knock off Gonzaga in this tightly contested game appeared to be over when Alex Barlow was called for traveling with Butler down 63-62 with 3.5 seconds to play. But Roosevelt Jones stole the inbounds pass near midcourt when the ball was overthrown, then quickly brought the ball up court and hit a floater in the lane to lift Butler to the 64-63 win.
In Lundari's latest Bracketology, Butler is a No. 4 seed in the South bracket; Gonzaga is a No. 2 seed in the West bracket and would play initially in Salt Lake City.
Up next: A buzzer beater that wasn't.
This one came down to a buzzer-beater that was waved off.
With Arizona trying to keep its record perfect at the time, the Buffaloes went on the road and appeared on their way to earning a big win. But the Wildcats rallied to tie the game late, leaving Colorado with 9.2 seconds to hit a potential game-winner. Colorado's Sabatino Chen banked in a 3-pointer at the end of regulation, but officials waved off the shot, though replays appeared to show the shot had left Chen's hand before the clock ran out. The Wildcats won 92-83 in overtime.
Arizona, at 20-2 overall and 8-2 in Pac-12 play, is a lock for the NCAA tournament. Colorado, however, is not assured of a NCAA postseason trip, as it is tied with five other teams in the Pac-12 at 5-5 in league play. The Buffaloes (15-7) did add to their resume Thursday, though, with a 48-47 win at No. 19 Oregon.