For the fourteenth year in a row, I am publishing an account of my top 10 best and worst sports moments of the past year. Scroll through the blog archives from late December of each year if you want to see the previous editions. Keep in mind that these are given from a purely subjective viewpoint. When I say “best/worst moments” I’m not talking about great or horrible sporting events. I’m talking about moments that affected me the most positively or negatively. Overall, this was a fairly average sports year for me with some good and bad moments occurring throughout. Without further ado, here are my best and worst sports moments for the year 2022.
|1. 15 seeded St. Peter’s makes it to NCAA Tournament’s Elite Eight||March 25|
This is what March is all about! To be honest with you, this started as a horrible moment for me, as Kentucky’s loss to St. Peter’s in their 2/15 matchup was devastating for me! Likewise, I am a Murray State fan so I was upset when the Peacocks knocked them off as well. However, once St. Peter’s took care of Purdue, I was all in on this amazing Cinderella story. Keep in mind that not only had a 15 seed never made it to the Elite 8 before this past March, but no 13 or 14 seed had ever played in the Elite 8 either. Even though the dream died an emphatic death against North Carolina in the Regional Finals, the fact that we got to at least ponder the possibility of St. Peter’s winning a Division 1 national basketball championship is truly incredible. As the lead SportsCenter anchor said on the night that the Peacocks knocked off the Boilermakers, “I know we like to use hyperbole in this business, but I can truthfully say, St. Peter’s is now three wins away from the greatest sports story of all-time!”
|2. South Carolina football ends Clemscum’s national title hopes with dramatic upset in the Palmetto Bowl.||November 26|
In back-to-back weeks last month, the Gamecocks of South Carolina did the impossible and knocked off two different College Football Playoff contenders as a huge underdog in each contest. The Tennessee win is also featured on this list (see best moment # 8), but the Clemson win has to be near the top of moments for the year, as the Gamecocks ended a seven game losing streak against their arch rival while simultaneously knocking the Tigers out of the national title hunt.
|3. South Carolina women win 2nd national basketball championship and Kansas denies UNC of 7th national title on the men’s side.||April 3-4|
I combined two moments into one here as they happened on consecutive nights, but needless to say my favorite women’s basketball powerhouse won the first national title game and one of my most hated men’s basketball powerhouses lost the second one.
|4. UNCW men’s basketball team wins CBI national title||March 23|
Sure, it would have been nice to see my local Seahawks make the NCAA tournament this season, but the next best thing was this team’s surprising and dramatic run through the 16 team College Basketball Invitational. The double overtime victory over Middle Tennessee State in the final was truly one of the best games in all of March Madness this season.
|5. Wake Forest football wins Gasparilla Bowl over Missouri||December 23|
The Deacs picked up their third straight win over an SEC school with this hard fought win over the Missouri Tigers just three days ago. Overall, this season was somewhat of a disappointment for Wake football who had lofty expectations entering 2022. Nevertheless, a victory in a tropical bowl game over a respectable SEC squad is a nice way to end the season, especially when it also resulted in Quarterback Sam Hartman breaking the all-time ACC touchdown record.
|6. Golden State Warriors win NBA title||June 16|
I have been a Warriors fan since the Splash Brother moniker was created back in the early 2010s, and after a four year title drought that included devastating injuries to both Steph Curry and Klay Thompson, this one was especially sweet.
|7. Houston Astros win World Series||November 5|
Yes, I realize that a lot of people hate the Astros as a result of their 2017 cheating scandal, but I have always been somewhat of a fan because they are my father’s favorite pro sports team. It was really nice to see them finally get a world championship that didn’t come with a disclaimer or any kind of asterisk this season.
|8. South Carolina football blows out # 5 Tennessee 63-28 in historic upset||November 19|
Shane Beamer was looking for his first signature win ever since he arrived in Columbia two years ago, and he got it with this epic beatdown of Tennessee in front of a raucous crowd at Williams-Brice Stadium. It was in fact the most points scored by an unraked team against a ranked team in history of college football!
|9. Birmingham Stallions win first-ever USFL championship||July 3|
I have always been a fan of upstart pro sports leagues whether it be the XFL or LIV golf. I was especially interested in the USFL’s inaugural campaign this season because of the significance and prestige this league possessed in the 1980’s. The Birmingham Stallions were my favorite team from the start of this season because they featured Wake Forest’s star receiver Sage Surratt, Coastal Carolina’s legendary running back C.J. Marable, and legendary college coach Skip Holtz. Then, the Stallions went out and won the league title with a thrilling 33-30 victory in the USFL Championship Game over Philadelphia.
|10. My USTA 6.5 Combo Team wins North Carolina State Championship||November 6|
For those of you that follow this entry on my blog each year, you will know that I often times include a sporting event that is extremely relevant to just me personally. Often times it is a fantasy football championship or a state title from a local high school sports team, but this year, my fall tennis team accomplished something we have spent several years striving for, which was a USTA North Carolina State Championship. Back in 2010 when I was in law school in Greensboro, I started playing USTA tennis and the 6.0 mixed doubles team I played on won the state championship. I then failed to win another state championship for over 12 years in over 25 different leagues before finally breaking through again this past fall. I won the only match I played in during the course of that tournament and then also went on to win a match in the sectional championships in Mobile, AL.
|1. Mike Leach dies at the age of 61||December 12|
The worst celebrity death of my life. My list all-time favorite sportsmen goes Michael Jordan, Andy Murray, Leach, and then there’s a big drop off after that. For my full synopsis of this tragedy please read my tribute from earlier this month.
|2. Wake Forest loses overtime heartbreaker to Clemscum in best shot to end top 10 losing streak.||September 24|
The reason my # 2 favorite moment (see above) ranks as high above is because of the pain inflicted by my # 2 least favorite moment of the year. Wake Forest notoriously has the longest losing streak against top 10 opponents in college football history as they have lost 62 in row dating back to 1946. The Deacons were a stop away from ending this past September against # 5 ranked Clemson in a game that I attended in person. Unfortunately, the Deacs couldn’t close the deal and lost in double overtime. It was the saddest I have ever been leaving a sporting event…
|3. UNCW loses to Delaware in CAA Championship Game and Wake blows NCAA tourney bid within 18 hours||March 8-9|
My # 3 best moment above combined two different March Madness triumphs that occurred on consecutive days, and my # 3 worst moment does the same for March Madness heartbreak. For most of 2021-22 basketball season, it looked like both my alma mater, Wake Forest, and my local team, UNCW, would both be playing in the NCAA men’s basketball tournament. Then, in a matter of 24 hours both of their tourney hopes were dashed as UNCW lost a heartbreaker in the CAA championship game and Wake Forest lost a chance at an at-large bid with their own gut-wrenching upset loss to Boston College in the first round of the ACC tournament.
|4. Wake Forest chokes away Jamaica Classic Championship by blowing 8 point lead in final 90 seconds of title game||November 20|
It was the perfect vacation to Montego Bay for my wife and I last month, but for a final minute meltdown in the championship game of the Jamaica Classic title game. Wake men’s basketball was about to extend its undefeated start to the season with their first tournament championship title of any kind in over a decade. The Deacs had overcome a 10 point halftime deficit to take a 8 point lead with a minute and a half to go and had a 96.3% win probability according to ESPN. Then, disaster struck…three inexplicable turnovers, two missed free throws in the final 20 seconds, and numerous defensive lapses enabled Loyola Marymout to tie the game in the final seconds to force overtime. Then, in OT, more late game heroics by Loyola earned the Lions the victory. This was about as horrendous of a way to lose a basketball game as humanly possible and because I had traveled all the way out of the country to see it, the result was that much more painful. See the screenshot of my televised hat throw above.
|5. Wake Forest football has 8 turnover meltdown loss to Louisville and Kentucky football gets pummeled by Tennessee on the same day.||October 30|
The Deacs produced maybe the worst second half of offensive football in the history of the sport by giving up two pick sixes, two additional interceptions, and four lost fumbles en route to a 48-21 road loss to Louisville. Meanwhile, just a couple of hours later, Tennessee manhandled Kentucky from the very start en route to a 44-6 beatdown of the Wildcats. Both of these defeats ultimately soured both of these teams promising 2022 campaigns, as Kentucky fell from 5-2 to 7-5 and Wake dropped from 6-1 to 8-5.
|6. Cincinnati Bengals lose to LA Rams in Super Bow LVI||February 13|
The Bengals were my local team growing up which is why I was heartbroken to see them fall just short of their first Super Bowl title this past February.
|7. Georgia beats Alabama to win College Football National Title||January 10|
The Bulldogs aren’t my most hated team in college football, but they are definitely apart of my bottom four along with Ohio State, Tennessee, and Clemson. Growing up a South Carolina fan, it is expected that you despise all things Clemson and Georgia. I get that the Dawgs hadn’t won a title in 42 years, but I still wasn’t happy at all to see them knock off my mother’s alma mater to earn the CFP title, especially when Bama had already beaten them earlier that season.
|8. Carolina Hurricanes lose Game 7 of Conference Semifinals to NY Rangers at home||May 30|
I attended game 5 of this series, and after a hard fought Canes victory, Carolina was on the verge of their second trip to the conference finals in four seasons. Nevertheless, it was not to be as the Canes choked away both games six and seven of this series to abruptly end their season. Game 7 was particularly painful as the Rangers destroyed the Canes in a 6-2 blowout that was over almost as soon as it started.
|9. Will Zalatoris loses US Open golf tourney by millimeters with missed putt on 72nd hole.||June 19|
If there is one thing that my alma mater, Wake Forest, is known for in the athletic realm, it is producing world class professional golfers. It began with Arnold Palmer and has continued through the years with Curtis Strange, Jay Haas, Bill Has, Darren Clarke, and Webb Simpson. The latest Demon Deacon sensation who came out of nowhere last year to finish 2nd place in three of the four major championships. With that being said, he couldn’t quite get over the hump in any of them, with last year’s U.S. Open being his best opportunity. Zalatoris had a 14 foot birdie putt on the 18th hole on Sunday that came as close as it possibly could to going in, without actually dropping.
|10. Nick Kyrgios loses last best chance at a grand slam title with loss to Novak Djokovic in Wimbledon final||July 10|
Other than Andy Murray and John Isner, Nick Kyrgios has been my favorite tennis player of the past decade. I am someone who admires and embraces the most outrageous characters in sport and life in general (Dennis Rodman, Mike Tyson, Andre Agassi, Bob Knight, Stone Cold Steve Austin, John Daly, Muhammad Ali, etc.), and I have loved all of Kyrgios’ antics and hijinks over the years. After years of failing to live up to his potential, Kyrgios finally had a breakout summer in 2022 that took him all the way to the third round of the U.S. Open and the final of Wimbledon. Sadly, however, Kyrgios could not secure the first grand slam singles title of his career despite leading Djokovic one set to love in this year’s Wimbledon final.