Since its inception in 1939, the NCAA Tournament has provided countless unforgettable moments over the years, although not all of them fall into the “good” category. One such moment occurred in the 1993 national title game when Chris Webber infamously called a timeout that the Michigan Wolverines didn’t have, a moment that sealed North Carolina’s third championship.
It was truly a heartbreaking moment for Webber and his “Fab Five” teammates but one that actually should have never even taken place given what transpired just six seconds earlier.
Chris Webber led the Michigan Wolverines to their second straight NCAA title game in 1993
After losing to Duke in the 1992 national title game as freshmen, Chris Webber and his “Fab Five” teammates, Jalen Rose, Juwan Howard, Jimmy King, and Ray Jackson came into the 1992-1993 college basketball season on a mission. And outside of winning a championship, the Wolverines had a fantastic season. Michigan went 26-4 in the regular season, losing only to teams ranked 11th or higher, and earned a No. 1 seed in the West Region of the 1993 NCAA Tournament.
As for Webber on an individual level, he had a phenomenal campaign, leading the Wolverines in both scoring (19.2) and rebounding (10.1), which earned him consensus First-Team All-American honors.
After disposing of 16th-seeded Coastal Carolina in the opening round of the NCAA tourney, Michigan survived a nail-biter in the round of 32 against UCLA before defeating George Washington in the Sweet 16. The Wolverines then dispatched Temple in the Elite Eight to earn a spot in the Final Four for the second consecutive year, where they defeated Kentucky to secure their spot in the national title game against North Carolina.
He was having a phenomenal national title game before the infamous timeout
While the 1993 national title game will always be remembered for Chris Webber’s infamous timeout, it’s sometimes easy to forget what a fantastic performance he put on before the events of those final 19 seconds.
In a back-and-forth slugfest with UNC, Webber, as he’d been for two years, was the driving force behind the Wolverines’ offense and played a phenomenal game, scoring a team-high 23 points on 11-for-18 shooting from the floor while also pulling down 11 rebounds.
But it will always be that final sequence that people remember, a sequence that should have never even gotten as far as it did.
The infamous Chris Webber timeout for the Michigan Wolverines should never have taken place
So everyone remembers Chris Webber calling a timeout that the Michigan Wolverines didn’t have with 11 seconds remaining in the ’93 title game. But things shouldn’t have ever even gotten that far given what happened just six seconds earlier.
So here’s what went down for those who may not remember. With 19 seconds remaining in the game, North Carolina held a 72-71 lead as Tar Heels forward Pat Sullivan went to the free-throw line. He made the first to give UNC a two-point lead but missed the second, at which point Webber pulled down the rebound.
He then pivoted and went to pass the ball to Jalen Rose. However, Carolina guard George Lynch had stayed behind following the miss and had Rose covered. Webber had not anticipated this development and clearly traveled at the 17-second mark before starting his dribble up the court. He dribbled all the way up the floor into the corner and called the infamous timeout, which gave the Tar Heels two shots and possession of the basketball. Both free throws were converted, giving Carolina a four-point lead, and the Tar Heels tacked on a couple of more points to seal the 77-71 victory.
Now, there’s certainly no guarantee that the Michigan Wolverines would have been able to come back had the travel been called but they certainly would have been in a much better position to do so. A turnover there would have led Michigan to foul again, right? Carolina was only up by two at this point and easily could have missed one or both free throws, which would have given the Wolverines a much better chance to win or at least force overtime. But the timeout sealed the deal and Chris Webber never wore a Michigan uniform again.
Stats courtesy of Sports Reference