Commentary

20 magical memories from 2011-12

Updated: April 4, 2012, 11:50 AM ET
By Dick Vitale | ESPN.com

The 2011-12 college basketball season is over now, but it is not forgotten by any stretch. Kentucky got to cut down the nets on Monday night as John Calipari's young squad showed an unselfish nature in a total team effort.

This was an exciting season for the sport. I want to reflect on a top 20 of great moments from the past season. I went to the VBDI to produce a list of the things I will remember about the game I love. Thanks for the memories, baby!

[+] EnlargeMichigan State
Christopher Hanewinckel/US PresswireMichigan State and North Carolina opened the season playing a game aboard the USS Carl Vinson.

NORTH CAROLINA-MICHIGAN STATE ON AN AIRCRAFT CARRIER
The Tar Heels were the preseason No. 1. Hall of Famer Roy Williams' team got the W and I received the thrill of a lifetime by meeting President Obama.

COACH K PASSES BOB KNIGHT AS THE WINNINGEST DIVISION I COACH
Madison Square Garden was rocking and rolling as Duke beat Michigan State to give its coach that milestone W.

INDIANA UPSETS KENTUCKY AS BLOOMINGTON ERUPTS
All of Tom Crean's hard work to rebuild the Hoosiers' program hit a high note. Did you see the highlight with Dan Shulman saying, "Watford for the win" enough times?

DUKE-NORTH CAROLINA CLASSIC FINISH
The Tar Heels were in command in Chapel Hill until the Dukies staged an amazing comeback. Diaper dandy Austin Rivers hit the game-winning shot as the best rivalry in all of sports had another incredible chapter.

EMERGENCE OF ANTHONY DAVIS
The diaper dandy who starred in the prep ranks completed an amazing four-for-four: National Player of the Year, Freshman of the Year, Defensive Player of the Year and Most Outstanding Player at the Final Four. He should make it five-for-five, a first, by going numero uno in the NBA draft.

[+] EnlargeYancy Gates
AP Photo/Al BehrmanThe brawl between Xavier and Cincinnati was one of the low points of the college basketball season.

XAVIER-CINCINNATI BRAWL
It was not a pleasant moment, but it was memorable because a lot of people learned from it. Mick Cronin did a great job handling his team in this sad situation. Chris Mack's club rode a roller coaster the rest of the season but finished strongly.

THOMAS ROBINSON'S 30-20
He had a great season, leading the Jayhawks to an eighth straight Big 12 title. Robinson had a terrific game against North Dakota, scoring 30 points while grabbing 21 rebounds. He was the first Jayhawk to do a 30-20 in 50 years.

MARK GOTTFRIED REVIVES NC STATE
He made changes to the schedule to make it much tougher. That helped raise the profile, and that got the Wolfpack into the NCAA tournament. NC State made the Sweet 16, and the future is bright with a super recruiting class led by Rodney Purvis.

DRAYMOND GREEN SHINES AT MICHIGAN STATE
Mr. Versatility had a great season with the Spartans. He was an All-Solid Gold performer who averaged a double-double. Green was a terrific leader at Michigan State.

NOTRE DAME STUNS SYRACUSE
The Orange entered South Bend ranked No. 1 and perfect. They left with an L. The Irish were a surprise team all season as Mike Brey found a way to get to the winner's circle often despite the injury loss of Tim Abromaitis.

[+] EnlargeKansas Jayhawks fans
Rich Sugg/Kansas City Star/MCT/Getty ImagesHave Kansas and Missouri seen the last of the Border War? Maybe not.

MURRAY STATE MAKES HEADLINES
Rookie coach Steve Prohm led the Racers to national prominence as the team lost just once (to Tennessee State) during the regular season. Isaiah Canaan became a star and one of my favorite moments was calling a game at Racer Nation. Murray State was very impressive in beating St. Mary's that afternoon.

MISSOURI RALLIES TO BEAT KANSAS
Shulman and I called this beauty too. It was so intense, as the Border War was in its final stages. Missouri was down eight but scored the final 11 points to get past the Jayhawks in Columbia. Kansas would get revenge at Phog Allen in overtime in the rematch.

FLORIDA STATE BEATS DUKE AND CAROLINA TO WIN THE ACC TOURNAMENT
Leonard Hamilton's team looked like it was on a mission. The Seminoles blew out the Tar Heels earlier in the season in a game Williams wanted to forget. Michael Snaer was the star of stars in the tournament.

LOUISVILLE WINS BIG EAST TOURNAMENT, CAPTURING FOUR GAMES IN FOUR DAYS
Rick Pitino's team did it a la Connecticut last year (I know the Huskies won five in five days last season). The Cardinals beat Seton Hall, Marquette, Notre Dame and Cincinnati at Madison Square Garden to win the championship.

BRUCE WEBER FIRED AT ILLINOIS
Despite a solid record (more than 100 games over .500), Weber was let go by the Big Ten school. He was not out of work for long as Kansas State hired him as Frank Martin's replacement.

[+] EnlargeDavis/Calipari
AP Photo/David J. PhillipAnthony Davis and John Calipari led Kentucky to the school's eighth national title.

FRANK HAITH HAS A BANNER YEAR AT MISSOURI
He won several Coach of the Year awards as his Tigers won 30 games. The season ended on a surprise note (see upset city below).

WESTERN KENTUCKY/BYU START TOURNAMENT WITH GREAT COMEBACKS
The Hilltoppers were down 16 with five minutes left and came back to defeat Mississippi Valley State. BYU rallied from a 25-point deficit to beat Iona. That was day one of the big dance. WOW!

SHOCK CITY WITH NORFOLK STATE OVER MISSOURI AND LEHIGH OVER DUKE
A pair of 15-seeds took down 2-seeds. The Tigers had a great season come to a stunning end. I felt the Missouri upset was more surprising as Duke was missing Ryan Kelly and this was not a vintage Blue Devils team.

MELO, MARSHALL MISS CRUCIAL TIME IN TOURNEY
Different stories, tough endings for two of the best teams in the sport. The suspension of Fab Melo proved costly to Syracuse when Ohio State exploited the middle of the zone in the Elite Eight. Kendall Marshall's injury was costly in the loss to Kansas.

KENTUCKY CUTS DOWN THE NETS FOR THE EIGHTH TIME
The season wrapped up with Kentucky's great win over Kansas. Calipari finally got to cut down the nets. The Wildcats showed an aggressive style, attacking the basket en route to an 18-point lead in the first half. Davis was named Most Outstanding Player despite shooting 1-of-10 from the field. He grabbed 16 rebounds, blocked six shots and dominated in the lane.

There were plenty of magical moments as this was a special season.

Dick Vitale

College Basketball analyst
Dick Vitale, college basketball's top analyst and ambassador, joined ESPN during the 1979-80 season. His thorough knowledge of the game is brought forth in an enthusiastic, passionate style. Vitale also contributes columns to ESPN.com.