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The Dagger: College Basketball Blog

Ranking the eight best games of the 2011-12 season

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Christian Watford (AP)

The Dagger begins its season-in-review series this week with a look back at the eight best games of the 2011-12 college basketball season.

1. Indiana 73, Kentucky 72 (Dec. 10): Christian Watford's buzzer-beating 3-pointer did more than keep Indiana undefeated, set off a wild court-storming and hand top-ranked Kentucky one of its only two losses of the season. It also signified the return of the scandal-tainted Hoosiers to national relevancy after three straight seasons of tepid home crowds, road woes and 66 total losses.

2. Kansas 87, Missouri 86 (Feb. 25): The final scheduled game of the Missouri-Kansas rivalry was one of the best the bitter adversaries have produced in the 105 years they've played one-another. The Jayhawks clinched an eighth straight Big 12 title by rallying from a 19-point second-half deficit in front of a roaring home crowd, forcing overtime on Thomas Robinson's three-point play and ensuing block of Phil Pressey's would-be game-winning layup.

3. Duke 85, North Carolina 84 (Feb. 9): NBA-bound Austin Rivers will only participate in two games between Duke and North Carolina, yet the freshman phenom forever etched his name into the history of the nation's most storied college basketball rivalry. Rivers capped a Duke comeback from a 10-point deficit with two minutes to play when he swished a long 3-pointer over 7-footer Tyler Zeller to shock North Carolina 85-84.

4. Norfolk State 86, Missouri 84 (March 16): Maybe the best regular season in Missouri history led to perhaps the most stunning NCAA tournament loss the Tigers have ever suffered. Kyle O'Quinn was the best player on the floor, scoring 26 points and pulling down 14 rebounds as Norfolk State stunned the second-seeded Tigers 86-84 — becoming only the fifth No. 15 seed to win a game in the tournament.

[ Related: Lehigh stuns Duke; everyone knows C.J. McCollum now ]

5. Lehigh 75, Duke 70 (March 16): Mere hours after Norfolk State stunned Missouri, Lehigh became the second No. 15 seed to pull an opening-round upset. Quick and fearless C.J. McCollum scored 30 points to lead the Mountain Hawks to a 75-70 victory over second-seeded Duke, a win that exposed the Blue Devils' defensive flaws and made Lehigh heroes to North Carolina fans everywhere.

6. Kentucky 69, Louisville 61 (March 31): The most anticipated game of the NCAA tournament produced March's most dramatic moment. When Louisville rallied from a 13-point deficit to tie Kentucky at 49-49 in the second half on a Peyton Siva 3-pointer, the possibility of the Cardinals upsetting their rivals was suddenly realistic. Instead Kentucky restored order, pulled away late and advanced to the national title game.

[ Dan Wetzel: Anthony Davis carries Kentucky past Louisville at Final Four ]

7. Missouri 74, Kansas 71 (Feb. 4): The second best Border War matchup this season was still one of the premier games in the history of the rivalry. Senior Marcus Denmon thrilled a deafening home crowd by finishing a 3-point play and hitting two 3-pointers in the final 2:05 as Missouri scored the game's final 11 points to rally past Kansas.

8. Syracuse 64, Wisconsin 63 (March 22): Wisconsin played a near flawless offensive game against Syracuse's vaunted zone, sinking 14 of 27 3-pointers. Still it wasn't enough, however, because Syracuse shot 55 percent from the field against the Badgers and survived a last-second 3-point attempt from Jordan Taylor. "I think (it is) the best game anybody has ever played against us and didn't beat us,'' Syracuse coach Jim Boeheim said afterward.

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