Arizona Wildcats Best Play Bracket: Tolbert’s twisting, no-look shot against North Carolina vs. Wright’s game-winner at No. 1 Stanford

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This year’s countdown to tipoff includes an overall look at the best play in Arizona Wildcats history, which will be determined in the days leading up to tipoff. Today marks 17 days until Arizona starts its 2014-15 season against Mount St. Mary’s on Nov. 14 at McKale Center. Along with the mentioning of the top plays, the countdown will once again display the top players who wore the number that corresponds with the day. The best play will be determined through a vote of readers in a bracket:

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NOTE: In a first-round matchup, Michael Wright’s game-winning basket at No. 1 Stanford in 2001 topped Chris Mills’ buzzer-beater in regulation at UCLA in 1991. Wright’s play moves on to the Sweet 16 to face Tom Tolbert’s no-look, twisting miracle of a shot against North Carolina in the 1988 Elite Eight.

Why vote for Tom Tolbert’s no-look, twisting miracle of a shot against North Carolina in the 1988 Elite Eight: With all 256 pounds of J.R. Reid crashing down upon him, Tolbert flipped the ball back over his head toward the basket, hoping to get himself two free throws for his trouble. The ball glanced off the glass, hit the front of the rim and dropped through the hoop to tie the score. Arizona went ahead by one on Tolbert’s free throw with more than 14 minutes left to play, and that was just about the last of North Carolina’s hopes. As the crowd of 22,470 roared to life at the Seattle Kingdome, Tolbert began to frustrate Reid on the other end of the court.

Why vote for Michael Wright’s game-winning shot that toppled No. 1 Stanford in 2001: Wright’s layup with three seconds left gave No. 8 Arizona a 76-75 victory over top-ranked Stanford at Maples. Stanford led for much of the second half, but Gilbert Arenas’ steal and layup with 3:06 left gave Arizona a two-point lead. Stanford retook the lead on four points by Jason Collins, but he was called for an offensive foul with 42 seconds left. Jason Gardner hit one free throw to pull Arizona within 75-74. Casey Jacobsen missed a 3-pointer with 16 seconds left, allowing Arizona to set up one last play. Wright got the ball in the middle of the key, maneuvered between two defenders and put the ball in. With three seconds on the clock, Jarron Collins threw a length-of-the-court pass that was intercepted by Arenas. The Wildcats stormed the court in celebration.

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ARIZONA’S TOP PLAYS LISTED IN THIS COUNTDOWN (Click on link to access blogs that pertain to the following)

Derrick Williams’ no-look, three-point play beats Texas in 2011 NCAA tourney
— Determined Jason Terry upsets No. 3 Stanford with shot in the lane in waning seconds of 1999 thriller at McKale Center.
Mark Lyons’ driving, one-handed shot in the waning seconds against No. 5 Florida in 2012 gives Sean Miller a signature victory.
Nic Wise’s game-winning last-second shot in double-overtime against USC in 2010 puts satisfying cap to tumultuous career.
Richard Jefferson’s tap-in at the buzzer off Jason Terry’s missed three-pointer beats Washington in 1999.
Loren Woods’ three blocked shots in succession — like rapid fire, one after the other within a five-second span — against Oregon in 2000.
Michael Wright’s shot in the lane with three seconds left topples No. 1 Stanford at Maples Pavilion in 2001.
Eddie Smith’s game-winning three-point play with two seconds left caps a furious last-minute rally at ASU in 1985.
Eddie Smith’s bank shot at the buzzer beats ASU 65-64 in Tempe in 1984 and sets Lute Olson’s dominant program in motion.
Salim Stoudamire’s jumper with six-tenths of a second left beats ASU in Tempe in 2005.
Nick Johnson gives Arizona fans Christmas Day gift with game-saving blocked shot against San Diego State in 2012.
MoMo Jones’ 16-foot bank shot at the buzzer in 2010 adds to New York flavor of Arizona winning shots at Stanford’s Maples Pavilion.
Chris Mills’ buzzer-beating jumper in regulation gives Arizona life in its 105-94 overtime victory over UCLA in 1991.
Kenny Lofton’s behind-the-back, double-pump dunk caps rout of Oregon in 1988, ranks as one of college hoops’ best dunks of that season.
Salim Stoudamire’s game-winning long-distance three-pointer downs UCLA in 2005.
Derrick Williams’ emphatic blocked shot against Washington in 2011 saves game for Arizona.
Khalid Reeves’ coast-to-coast game-winner with less the five seconds left beats Stanford at Maples Pavilion in 1992.
Steve Kerr’s first shot after father’s assassination in 1984, a 25-foot jumper against ASU, gives him hero status in Tucson and contributes to Arizona’s emergence in the Pac-10.
Sean Rooks’ last-second bank shot at Stanford in 1991 gives the Wildcats a 78-76 victory.
Salim Stoudamire’s game-winning jumper against Oklahoma State in the 2005 Sweet 16.
Sean Elliott’s free throw breaks Lew Alcindor’s conference scoring record in 1989.
Craig McMillan’s McClutch shot at the buzzer from full-court pass from Steve Kerr against Oregon State in 1986.
— Arizona 6-10 center Bob Elliott’s 35-foot jumper at the buzzer beats Kansas State in 1973.
Sean Elliott downs Duke with three-pointer over Danny Ferry in last minute in 1989.
Miles Simon’s 65-foot bank shot as time expired to beat Cincinnati in Phoenix in 1996.
Tom Tolbert’s no-look, twisting shot against North Carolina in the 1988 Elite Eight.


POLLS STILL OPEN:


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CLICK ON BRACKET TO ACCESS BLOG TO VOTE:

GAME TWO
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GAME THREE
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GAME FIVE
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GAME SIX

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GAME SEVEN

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GAME EIGHT

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GAME NINE

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GAME TEN

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GAME ELEVEN — SWEET 16

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GAME TWELVE — SWEET 16

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POLLS THAT ARE CLOSED:

GAME ONE

GAME FOUR

ALLSPORTSTUCSON.com publisher, writer and editor Javier Morales is a former Arizona Press Club award winner. He also writes articles for Bleacher Report and Lindy’s College Sports.

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