March Madness starts early as Miami downs UNC with half-court dagger at the buzzer

Miami senior Ja'Quan Newton launches game-winning buzzer beater against UNC.

Miami senior Ja’Quan Newton launches game-winning buzzer beater against UNC.
Grant Halverson/Getty Images

  • The Miami Hurricanes and North Carolina Tar Heels kicked off March Madness season a few weeks early, playing to the buzzer in a thriller on Tuesday.
  • After UNC tied the game with just four seconds remaining, Miami senior Ja’Quan Newton hit a running three from half-court to win the game for the Hurricanes.
  • Both teams are expected to make the NCAA tournament when the bracket is revealed on March 11.

While we’re still 10 days from Selection Sunday, Miami and No. 9 North Carolina decided to get a bit of an early start on March Madness this year with an absolutely thrilling game on Tuesday night.

Down three points with the ball, the Tar Heels needed a big shot in front of their home crowd to force overtime in the final seconds of the game. Joel Berry II stepped up to the challenge, burying a trey from pro-range to knot the game up at 88-88.

With the Dean Smith Center in hysterics, it looked as though the game was heading for an extra five minutes.

But Miami had other ideas.

With just 4.1 seconds left on the clock, the Hurricanes inbounded to senior guard Ja’Quan Newton, who took the ball just past half-court before launching a runner from the logo. As the ball was in the air, the buzzer sounded.

Swish. Hurricanes win, 91-88.

After the game, even Newton was impressed with himself.

“I’ve made a buzzer-beater before but not at this type of level,” Newton said. “This is one thing I’ve always dreamed about. … For me to actually do it right now at this moment, out there against North Carolina, that’s something I will remember forever.”

Both Miami and North Carolina are expected to make the NCAA tournament, with the Hurricanes currently projected as a 7-seed and the Tar Heels expected to be a 2-seed.