What if ...
What if the half-court desperation shot at the buzzer by Butler's Gordon Hayward had fallen? Would it have been considered the greatest ending in the history of sports? Yes, it's easy to get caught up in the moment and tend to think of things that just happened as being "the best'' or "the greatest'' or whatever. But think about it: A half-court shot at the buzzer for a heavy underdog to win college basketball's national championship over one of the most storied programs of all-time. What ending would have been more dramatic than that?
You have Bill Mazeroski's walk-off homer in the bottom of the ninth to give the Pirates a 10-9 victory over the Yankees in the 1960 World Series. But even if Maz hadn't belted his famous homer, the score was still tied and the Pirates might have won anyway. Joe Carter's walk-off homer to win the 1993 World Series for the Blue Jays over the Phillies came in Game 6, not Game 7. There's the Immaculate Reception during the 1972 playoffs, but that was a first-round playoff game and the Steelers lost the following week. The Twins won Game 7 of the 1991 World Series in the bottom of the 10th, but again, the winning hit came while the score was tied.
Patriots kicker Adam Vinatieri won a couple of Super Bowls in the final seconds, but both of his field goals came while the score was tied. A miss would've simply meant overtime. Scott Norwood missed a field goal on the last play during Super Bowl XXV. That was dramatic. So was the Rams stopping the Titans a yard short on the last play to win Super Bowl XXXIV.
But Hayward's shot was an all-or-nothing, win-or-lose heave. Maybe you can think of a better final play in sports, but I would suggest that if Hayward had drained the shot, it would've been the most dramatic ending in North American sports history. If you can think of a better one, let me know.