1. Cleveland Indians vs. Chicago Cubs – Game 7 of the World Series
An exciting baseball game has become a little bit of an oxymoron these days. On the other hand, watching the Chicago Cubs break their streak of 107 year drought without a World Series title was enthralling to watch. The back and forth series saw the Cubs dominate early, but the Indians ripped off three wins in a row, and were on the brink of winning the World Series. The Cubs had an amazing comeback setting up for an epic Game 7 in Cleveland.
Heading in to the eighth inning, Chicago looked to be six outs away from winning it all. The unheralded Rajai Davis kept the Indians season alive. A two-run home-run was part of a productive inning for the Indians, who eventually tied the score at 8. After a nine innings, a rain delay postponed the finish of Game 7. The Cubs fans were nervous, but the players remained calm.
Ben Zobrist, the eventual MVP, delivered a huge two out double in the top of the 10th, and the team later added a pivotal insurance run. The Indians did not go down without a fight. They scored in the bottom of the 10th, but went on to lose 10-9.
The taste of champagne had long escaped the Cubs organization and must have tasted so sweet. They made up for lost time as well, and threw one of the biggest parades that the city of Chicago has ever seen.
2. Villanova Wildcats vs. North Carolina Tar Heels – NCAA National Championship
As fans, we often get too greedy when it comes to National Championship games. Expecting two teams to play perfectly with a massive amount of pressure and everything on the line isn’t fair at times. However, with two of the best taking the floor last season for the NCAA March Madness National Championship, perfection is exactly what we got.
The final game capped off a brilliant tournament, and both teams used the entire forty minutes to put on a show for the fans. An up-tempo game in the first half, UNC was leading 39-34 at the break. Led by Brice Johnson, a future NBA draft pick, the Tar Heels were imposing their will in the paint.
As soon as the second half began, Villanova seized the momentum. Villanova was up 67-57 with four minutes to go, and it seemed we were destined for an anti-climactic finish.
UNC then provided the fireworks. A barrage of three pointers got North Carolina back in the game. Marcus Paige capped of a 16-6 run for UNC with a double-clutch off balance three-pointer to tie the game at 74. Overtime loomed.
Then the upperclassmen for Villanova stepped up. Point guard Ryan Arcidiacono pushed the ball up the floor, handed it off to Kris Jenkins who let it fly with just under a second left to play. The shot was pure. Jenkins knew it was in right away and Villanova captured the NCAA title in epic fashion, 77-74.
3. Golden State Warriors vs. Cleveland Cavaliers – Game 7 of NBA Finals
73-9 don’t mean a thing without the ring. The slogan is known by only those familiar with the NBA, but was only created thanks to the Cleveland Cavaliers. The Golden State Warriors set the record for most wins in an NBA regular season. The stats to go along with the record were gaudy and borderline unbelievable.
They breezed to the NBA Finals where they played the Cleveland Cavaliers for the second year in a row. LeBron James returned with a healthy Kyrie Irving and Kevin Love and vowed to flip the script.
Opening up a 3-1 series lead, the world was ready to crown the Warriors as back-to-back champs. However, a crucial win in Game 5 was won by the Cavs, who in the process baited Draymond Green into a technical foul that suspended him for Game 6.
The Cavs took advantage of Green losing his cool, and evened up the series at 3 games a piece. It all came down to a Game 7 at Oracle Arena.
A back and forth battle swung on two plays late in the fourth quarter. Tied at 89, the Warriors were running a fast-break that saw Andre Iguodala go up for a layup that would break the deadlock. As he has done so many times before, LeBron James came out of nowhere to pin Iguodala’s shot against the backboard. That is the kind of determination required to win a title.
Minutes later, Kyrie Irving sank the biggest shot of his life. A step back three with only 53 seconds left to give the Cavs an 92-89 lead silenced the home crowd. The Cavaliers were able to deliver the city of Cleveland a championship for the first time in 52 years with a final score of 93-89.
4. Alabama Crimson Tide vs. Clemson Tigers – 2016 College Football National Championship
If there was any objection to the College Football Playoff, Alabama and Clemson silenced the doubters in early 2016. A back-and-forth game that featured a little bit of everything, this game was suspenseful for the entire four quarters.
Heading in to the game, Alabama was the slight favorite. They had just demolished Michigan State 38-0 in one National Semifinal, and were the champs of the SEC, the toughest conference in college football. However, Clemson was undefeated. They relished the role of the underdog came out ready to play against the Alabama dynasty.
Deshaun Watson was one of the protagonists of this National Championship story. Watson set a National Championship record for most yards in a title game. Accumulating 478 yards against Alabama’s defense is no small feat. Add 4 touchdowns to the mix, and Watson was a potential MVP of this game. Clemson was holding on to a 24-21 lead in to the fourth quarter, and that is when Alabama flipped the switch.
In the fourth quarter alone, the teams combine for 40 points! It all started with the outstanding special teams play from Alabama. With the game tied at 24, an onside kick that was recovered by Alabama changed the gym. Alabama tight end O.J. Howard wide open for a 51-yard touchdown to give the Tide the lead immediately after that. Kenyan Drake then took a kickoff 95 yards to the house to solidify Alabama’s lead.
It was a fight to the finish, but Alabama survived an instant classic, 45-40.
5. Arizona Cardinals vs. Green Bay Packers – Divisional Round of Playoffs
Arguably the best playoff game in the NFL last season, the Cardinals and Packers needed overtime to decide who would go to the NFC Championship.
Let’s fast forward to the fourth quarter, where this one got really good. Trailing by 7 with 5 seconds on the clock, only Aaron Rodgers could pull off the Hail Mary heroics. Rodgers stayed alive in the pocket, spun away from a sack and chucked a ball that traveled 60 yards in the air. Jeff Janis, a Packers wide receiver flew through the air as well to catch a ball that was almost intercepted by two Arizona Cardinals defenders.
Packers fans rejoiced, after a play like that, this had to be their year.
Hall of Fame wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald had other ideas. One play in overtime is almost all the Cardinals needed. After a touch back, Carson Palmer was swarmed in the pocket but managed to escape a sack and heave a pass across the field to Fitzgerald. He caught the ball with room to run and eventually was tackled at the five yard line.
Two plays later, the Cardinals designed a clever play as Fitzgerald scored on a shovel pass. The 26-20 final score sent the Cardinals to the NFC Championship.
6. Cincinnati Bengals vs. Pittsburgh Steelers – Wild Card Playoff Round
In the Wild Card Playoff Round, another wild finish earns the sixth spot on the countdown. The AFC North rivals squared off in a rainy, gritty, physical football game was every thing fans expected it to be. The defensive struggle was aided by a torrential downpour throughout the game.
Steelers wide receiver Martavis Bryant notched the game’s first touchdown with a somersault catch to give the Steelers a 15-0 lead. The Bengals played with backup quarterback A.J. McCarron for the entire game. His resilience was key as he finally led the Bengals on a scoring drive in the fourth quarter. Running back Jeremy Hill powered through to make the score 15-7. Chipping away, McCarron found A.J. Green for a 25-yard touchdown that gave the Bengals a 16-15 lead. Then things got even crazier.
All the Bengals had to do was run out the clock. Easier said than done. Jeremy Hill’s late fumble proved to be costly. Ben Roethlisberger missed a chunk of the second half with a shoulder injury, but returned just in time. Personal fouls mounted up on the same play, and the thirty yard gain gave the Steelers an easy field goal to win the game. The 18-16 final score broke the hearts of Bengals fans and sent the Steelers to Denver.
7. Texas A&M Aggies vs. Northern Iowa Panthers – NCAA Tournament Second Round
Adding to the list of games you just had to see to believe, Texas A&M pulled off an improbable comeback against Northern Iowa in the NCAA tournament. The Aggies found themselves down 69-57 with 45 seconds to go. Yes, you read that correctly. That’s when the furious comeback began. Starting off with an lay up, the Aggies had cut it to ten.
With suffocating defense and numerous mistakes by Northern Iowa, Texas A&M kept chipping away. Northern Iowa was trapped in the corner once again with only five seconds left. An errant pass gave the Aggies a layup to tie the score at 71.
Heading in to overtime, both teams were gassed. An impressive display from deep saw UNI go up 77-74 at one point, and then 82-79.
The Aggies just couldn’t be denied. A missed free throw kept them alive, and they were able to tie the score at 83. Northern Iowa was out of energy in double OT. The Aggies pulled off one of the most stunning come back wins in NCAA history, and won the game 92-88.
Alex Caruso scored 25 in the epic come back, and Danuel House added 22 for the Aggies.
8. UFC 205 – Conor McGregor vs. Eddie Alvarez
“Where the f@#! is my second belt?!”
In a soundbite that only Conor McGregor can provide, these were the words that were uttered immediately after McGregor became the first fighter in UFC history to hold a belt in two weight classes simultaneously.
McGregor’s trash talk outside of the ring is only matched by his performances in the ring. He is a superstar that the UFC has never seen before, and his continued dominance is unparalleled.
For this reason, every McGregor fight is must-see TV.
With the bright lights on him again, McGregor took on Eddie Alvarez for the Lightweight title in Madison Square Garden. With McGregor engaging in pre-fight banter as always, fans did not know what to expect with all of this pressure on the superstar.
He simply responded like a champion should. Knocking down Alvarez numerous times in the first round, McGregor struck quickly again in the second, scoring an easy victory by knockout. Seemingly always trying to one-up himself, “The Notorious,” followed up the fight with a hilarious post-fight interview.
9. Chicago Cubs vs. Los Angeles Dodgers – Game 2 0f NLCS
The Cubs find themselves on the Top Ten list for the second time, but were on the losing end of this classic game. A playoff duel between two NL Cy Young candidates lived up to the hype. The Dodgers were down 1-0 in the series, and sent their ace Clayton Kershaw to the mound. The Cubs answered that with their rising star, Kyle Hendricks.
Hendricks, who would eventually finish third in the Cy Young voting, only made one mistake in Game 2 of the NLCS. A solo home-run by Adrian Gonzalez in the top of the second gave the Dodgers a 1-0 lead. Unfortunately for the Cubs, Clayton Kershaw didn’t make any mistakes.
After 7 shutout innings pitched, Kershaw left what was easily his best game ever pitched in the postseason. The pitchers’ precision and dominance throughout the game was spectacular to watch in one of the biggest games of the year.
The game was quick, well-played and exciting throughout thanks to Kershaw and Hendricks bringing their best stuff in a big game.
10. Cincinnati Bearcats vs. UConn Huskies – Quadruple OT in AAC Quarterfinals
A gritty comeback in regulation, check. An 80 foot shot, check. Four overtimes, check. Snatching a win to save season, check! UConn survived the wildest game in the young history of the American Athletic Conference Tournament. With the scored tied at 62 at the end of regulation, the game was just beginning.
A defensive minded first OT was much expected, but with both teams unable to muster any offense the score was 67-67. Cincinnati grabbed a late lead in the second OT, but a beautiful euro step by Jalen Adams (remember that name) kept UConn alive. The fast paced action continued in to the third overtime. A deep three from Troy Caupain gave the Bearcats an 83-82 lead with just over a minute to play. Then tied at 85, Cincy though they had it won after an offensive rebound and a dagger three from Kevin Johnson. Up 88-85 with .9 seconds left to play the Bearcats were celebrating at mid court…big mistake.
The cheers allowed Jalen Adams to catch an in-bounds pass unguarded and he was able to heave up an improbable shot. The heave was just about from 80-feet and had fans on the edges of their seats.
The call from ESPN announcer Mike Patrick was, “This one’s good if it goes.” And it went. The shot’s perfect trajectory hit the backboard first and fell in as if Adams was shooting a lay-up. With all the momentum, UConn breezed past Cincinnati and won the game 104-97 in the fourth overtime.
UConn began to believe, and wound up winning the AAC tournament. They also earned a spot in the NCAA tournament all thanks to a shot that will be remembered forever.
Here’s our list! Let us know if we left out one of your favorite games of 2016!