This is the time of year people usually start tweeting at Ali Farokhmanesh.
The Northern Iowa fans who remember his back-to-back buzzer-beaters to beat UNLV and Kansas and usher the Panthers to the Sweet 16 of the NCAA Tournament a decade ago. The Missouri and Kansas State fans still thankful he helped take down the top-seeded Jayhawks. And yes, there will be Kansas fans still pained by the memory.
“I mean, any time someone brings it up to me or somebody randomly tweets at me, or something along those lines, it brings me back,” Farokhmanesh said this week. “And honestly, normally this time of the year is when I start thinking about that — thinking about when I was playing.”
Nothing is normal this year, though. There will be no last-second heroics in the NCAA Tournament after the outbreak of the coronavirus led to its cancellation. There will be no underdogs taking down basketball blue bloods or previously unheralded kids becoming household names because of their heroics during the madness of March.
Basketball fans instead will be left — like Farokhmanesh — to reflect on the big games, big shots and big moments that have come to define the NCAA Tournament as one of the most heart-stopping sporting events in the country.
For Farohkmanesh, it is not necessarily the 3-pointer in the final minute that took down Kansas in the second round of the 2010 tournament that jumps to the forefront of his mind. It's the shot he hit two days earlier, a 3 from well beyond the arc in the final seconds that gave the Panthers a 69-66 victory over the Runnin' Rebels.
“That one gets completely passed up,” said Farokhmanesh, now an assistant at Colorado State. “Magnitude-wise Kansas was bigger, but the UNLV game, that was crazy too, because it was back and forth and we got lucky enough to have the last possession, and it was crazy because they were double-teaming us. I was pretty deep and let it fly.”
There are plenty of other players in the history of the NCAA Tournament that have “let it fly,” earning them a spot in the history books: