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The Dagger

Ranking the 10 best games of this year’s college basketball season

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Nik Stauskas and Russ Smith (Getty Images)

The Dagger continues its season-in-review series this week with a look back at the best games of the 2012-13 college basketball season. Let us know which ones we missed via Twitter or in the comments below.

1. Louisville captures national title

Why it was memorable: Very few national championship games turn out to be must-see, but this one was scintillating from start to finish. Little-known freshman Spike Albrecht came off the bench to torch Louisville for 17 first-half points. Fellow reserve Luke Hancock brought the Cardinals back from a 12-point deficit with four 3-pointers in a two-minute stretch. And despite Trey Burke's heroics to keep Michigan competitive in the second half, the trio of Peyton Siva, Gorgui Dieng and Chane Behanan each made enough big plays to help Louisville pull away for an 82-76 victory.

2. Notre Dame outlasts Louisville in 5OTs

Why it was memorable: A mundane Big East battle that appeared destined to be forgotten suddenly became captivating when Notre Dame's Jerian Grant scored 12 points in 31 seconds to rally the Irish from an eight-point deficit with less than a minute to go. One overtime turned to two, two turned to three ... and pretty soon the two teams were playing deep into the night. Nine players fouled out in Notre Dame's 104-101 five-overtime victory, and the hero of the game didn't play a minute in regulation. Garrick Sherman entered the game in the first overtime and hardly left the court thereafter, scoring 17 points and grabbing six rebounds.

3. The birth of Dunk City

Why it was memorable: The reason Florida Gulf Coast's upset of Georgetown is so high on this list isn't because the Eagles became only the seventh No. 15 seed ever to topple a No. 2 seed. It was the way they did it that resonated. Bombing threes, throwing lobs and attacking in transition at every opportunity, FGCU extended a two-point halftime lead to as many as 19 points and never let the Hoyas any closer than four points down the stretch. The Eagles rode the momentum from their first upset to a victory over San Diego State in the next round, becoming the first No. 15 seed ever to reach a Sweet 16.

4. Michigan's Sweet 16 comeback

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Why it was memorable: How you remember Michigan's thrilling 87-85 overtime victory over Kansas in the Sweet 16 probably depends on which team you support. The Wolverines will recall a thrilling comeback from a 10-point deficit with two and a half minutes to go capped by a Trey Burke 25-foot dagger to force overtime. The Jayhawks will remember an epic collapse in which they squandered a game they controlled for 37 minutes in a hail of defensive miscues and Elijah Johnson turnovers. Regardless, those three minutes altered the rest of the tournament because it could easily have been Kansas playing for the national title in Atlanta and Michigan watching from home.

5. Louisville ends Brittney Griner's career early

Why it was memorable: An unlikely run to the national title game from the Louisville women started when the Cardinals did the impossible: they made Brittney Griner a non-factor. Raining down threes from the perimeter at a record clip and double- and triple-teaming Griner in the paint whenever she touched the ball, Louisville effectively neutralized Baylor's 6-foot-8 center. Guard Odyssey Sims spearheaded a furious Baylor rally from a 19-point second-half deficit, but Louisville guard Monique Reid hit two free throws with 2.6 seconds left to lift the Cardinals to a stunning 82-81 Sweet 16 victory.

6. Indiana dramatically captures Big Ten crown

Why it was memorable: Even after a regular season full of thrilling, high-level games, the Big Ten still saved its best for last. Indiana and Michigan met in Ann Arbor on the final day of the regular season with the outright Big Ten title at stake for the Hoosiers and a piece of the title on the line for the Wolverines. Cody Zeller's go-ahead layup capped an Indiana rally from a five-point deficit in the final minute, but Michigan still had two chances to win. Not until Trey Burke missed a shot in the lane and Jordan Morgan's put-back attempt hung on the rim tantalizingly and rolled out could the Hoosiers finally celebrate.

7. LaQuinton Ross rescues Ohio State

Why it was memorable: Two of Ohio State's NCAA tournament victories were among the most thrilling games of March, but I chose the Sweet 16 win over Arizona here rather than the round of 32 win over Iowa State because the former wasn't marred by a bad call in the final minutes. After a Mark Lyons three-point play capped a late Arizona comeback from a 10-point deficit, Ohio State put the ball in Aaron Craft's hands and used a high ball screen by LaQuinton Ross to create space. Craft drew a double team instead, so he whipped a pass to Ross, who buried a go-ahead 3-pointer over late-recovering Grant Jerrett with two seconds left to secure a 73-70 victory.

8. In Ben Brust, Wisconsin trusts

Why it was memorable: No game this season featured more late drama than Wisconsin's thrilling 65-62 overtime victory over Michigan. Tim Hardaway Jr. made Wisconsin coach Bo Ryan pay for not using one of his three fouls to give when he buried a go-ahead 3-pointer from the top of the key with 2.4 seconds left in regulation. Ben Brust then saved Ryan from days of second guessing with one of the college basketball season's most memorable shots, catching Mike Bruesewitz's inbound pass just inside mid-court, taking one dribble and draining a game-tying 40 footer as his momentum carried him toward the sideline.

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9. Kansas, referees thwart Iowa State

Why it was memorable: This game had everything. Seventeen 3-pointers from a torrid Iowa State team playing for its NCAA tournament life. A spirited Elijah Johnson-led comeback from a Kansas team desperate to extend its Big 12 title streak. And a questionable call that went against the home team and incited a near riot in the stands at Hilton Coliseum. Iowa State led by two when freshman Georges Niang appeared to draw a charging foul on Johnson with seven seconds to go in the second half. Instead referees ignored the contact and assessed a loose ball foul to Niang, enabling Johnson to sink two free throws to force overtime and enable Kansas to escape with the win.

10. Wichita State shocks Gonzaga

Why it was memorable: Wichita State launched its surprising Final Four run with a brilliant shooting display that felled the West Region's top seed. For nearly seven minutes late in the second half, the ninth-seeded Shockers did not miss a single shot, a run that included five critical 3-pointers. That shooting barrage turned a seven-point deficit into a 76-70 win that felled a Gonzaga team that entered the NCAA tournament ranked No. 1 in the nation. Wichita State went on to defeat La Salle and Ohio State to become the fifth team seeded ninth or higher to make the Final Four.

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