Duke and Kentucky met in the East Regional final on this day 28 years ago. Surely a significant portion of sports fans decided not to clear their schedules to watch live on CBS. One wonders if they've ever forgiven themselves for missing out on what can credibly be termed the best NCAA Tournament game ever played.
Everyone remembers Christian Laettner, the heroic turnaround burned into history. But what's been largely lost to time is the acrobatic and clutch shot Kentucky's Sean Woods banked in to give the Wildcats a one-point lead with 2.1 seconds to play. It was his 20th and 21st point of the game to go with nine assists. It appeared as thought he put his team through to the Final Four.
Kentucky had rallied from 12 points down to even force the decisive overtime period. For as memorable as the final seconds were, the entire matchup was a thrill ride. The two teams combined for 207 points --an unheard of sum by today's standard -- on nearly 61 percent shooting.
Laettner's shot was the cherry on top of a masterpiece. Kentucky is forever haunted by the decision not to guard the inbounder.
"It still hurts," Woods told The Sporting News in 2012. "We had goals and aspirations to win a national championship, and for it to get busted that kind of way, it was painful. It's gratifying to be considered a major player in a game they consider the best college game ever but at the end of the day, we lost it."
Woods is currently head coach of Southern University, his third stop in an 11-year career on the sidelines. He was not the titular character in a 30 for 30 on widespread loathing like his Duke counterpart. You may not have even known his name before this morning. The fickle arrow of history can go in any direction.