The NCAA tournament had featured some close, exciting games, and certainly its share of upsets (how’s your bracket doing?). But it took until the final game of the third round for the tournament to get a signature moment.
In fact, it got two, or even three, depending on how one views the sequence that will forever etch Zak Showalter into Wisconsin lore.
Unfortunately for Showalter, his heroics were one-upped by Florida’s Chris Chiozza, who gave his team an overtime win Friday with a full-court sprint that led to a lunging three-pointer. With his team down two points and just four seconds remaining, Chiozza received a pass at his end of the court and managed to get a remarkable shot off just before the buzzer.
It was Chiozza’s first three-pointer of the game, and it made for the first buzzer-beater of the tournament. The game between the Gators, seeded fourth in the East Region, and the eighth-seeded Badgers had become the tournament’s first overtime contest thanks to Showalter’s improbable effort, eerily similar to what Chiozza would pull off.
With his team needing a three to tie the game with seconds left, the senior guard dribbled past a defender and launched a one-legged shot that hit its mark. Showalter then looked over at Green Bay quarterback Aaron Rodgers, who was in attendance at Madison Square Garden, and performed his championship-belt (a.k.a., “Discount double-check”) move.
Rodgers quickly tweeted out his appreciation. He had earlier told his Twitter followers that while he played college football at California, he was a fan of Badgers basketball, adding, “Deal with it.”
So, technically, Showalter provided a pair of signature moments. What he also provided, as it turned out, was a chance for Chiozza to make an even more memorable play, one that gave Florida an 84-83 win and added an unexpected final chapter to what had already become the tournament’s best game.