March Madness’ first upset came via a last-second game-winner. Down one to Miami and with the clock running out, Loyola-Chicago guard Donte Ingram drained a three to lead the Ramblers past the sixth-ranked Hurricanes, 64-62.
Though the shot wasn’t technically a “buzzer beater”—there were 0.3 seconds left when it went through the net—Ingram’s three deserves to be judged as such because, come on, there were just 0.3 seconds left. So, how good was it? Let’s go to our official March Madness Buzzer Beater Scale, in which points are awarded for difficulty, stakes, timing, the announcer’s call, team reaction, and overall Cinderella-ness.
The points system works the same as the old 6.0 figure skating scale because we miss the Winter Olympics (and believe the Russian judges deserve a say).
Ingram released his shot from the bracket decal marking center court, and he did so with a hand in his face. In other words, it was rather difficult.
Perhaps just as difficult as the shot was the rebound that led to it. Lonnie Walker IV’s missed free throw seemed to hang on the rim for an hour. A Miami big man was well positioned to pull the ball down before Ramblers guard Ben Richardson snuck in from behind to grab it and start the break. Around seven seconds later, the ball was out of Ingram’s hands and headed directly for the bottom of the net.
Difficulty rating: 5.7
The stakes are always high in a single-elimination tournament, but points are deducted because this game-winner only came in the first round. However, points are summarily added because of Loyola-Chicago’s underdog status.
Tipping the scales and raising the stakes was the presence of Ramblers team chaplain Sister Jean Delores Schmidt. The 98-year-old nun hadn’t seen her team win a tournament game since 1985, and had Ingram missed, she might have had to wait another 33 years to experience victory.
Stakes rating: 5.1
As discussed above, Ingram’s three did not technically beat any buzzers. Next time, it would be nice if he could hold on to the ball for just a smidge longer.
Timing rating: 3.0
The experts consider the Missouri Valley Conference champion Ramblers to be better than their 11 seed suggests. The number-crunchers also thought Miami was a weak 6 seed going into the tournament, so the gap between the favorite and underdog is narrowed slightly.
However, Sister Jean Delores Schmidt tips the scales yet again, as any team who brings a sweet old nun to March Madness automatically becomes the tournament darling.
Cinderella-ness rating: 5.6
As Ingram’s shot flew through the air, play-by-play man Spero Dedes noted the Ramblers had a timeout but didn’t take it. Usually this could be seen as the announcer not letting the moment “breathe,” but the fact that Dedes was able to utter such a long sentence during the ball’s parabolic flight highlighted just how far away Ingram was from the hoop. That, combined with fellow announcers Steve Smith and Len Elmore’s gleefull ooh!s made for a great call.
Announcers’ call rating: 5.9
The Loyola-Chicago bench stormed the court, even though it wasn’t a true buzzer beater. This is good, and they get additional points for it. Ingram confidently hopped backwards after his release, which is also super cool. Sister Jean Delores Schmidt was off camera, but I assume she gave the holy spirit a chest bump or something similarly cool.
Total March Madness Buzzer Beater Score: 5.2
This is thus far the best (and only) buzzer beater of the 2018 NCAA Tournament.