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ESPN Ranks The Top 75 NCAA Tournament Players Ever


ESPN, in preparation for March Madness, decided to compile a list of the Top 75 players in NCAA Tournament history and surprise, surprise. Blue got in. The Greatest Tradition in College Basketball got 4 players onto the list spanning 4 different decades, but none ranked higher than #26. ESPN’s Top 5 NCAA Tournament players of all time were, in order from 5 to 1; Magic Johnson, Bill Russell, Christian Laettner, Bill Walton, and Lew Alcindor. Here’s what the experts had to say about Kentucky’s greatest tournament players.


59. Anthony Davis, Kentucky — Davis had one of the most dominating seasons we’ve seen from a freshman big man in quite some time. Kentucky was one step above everyone else in the country because it had Davis and no one else did. His ability to block and alter shots gave a loaded Wildcats team an added dimension that propelled its run to the championship in the 2012 NCAA tournament. Davis’ presence was something to behold. He averaged 13.7 points, 12.3 rebounds and 4.8 blocks to help lead the Wildcats to their first national championship since 1998, and the first for head coach John Calipari. — Andy Katz


51. Alex Groza, Kentucky — The passing of time and the stain of scandal obscure just how great Groza was. The 6-foot-7 center won Most Outstanding Player honors in Kentucky’s back-to-back 1948 and 1949 national championship teams. With a dominating hook shot, he averaged 27.3 points per game in the ’49 tournament, including 25 of his team’s 46 points in the championship game versus Oklahoma A&M. He and the other four starters on the 1948 champions led the U.S. to a gold medal in that year’s Olympics. In 1951, however, Groza’s legacy was tarnished by a point-shaving scandal that resulted in his banishment from the sport. — Brian Bennett


48. Tony Delk, Kentucky — Delk scored more points in the NCAA Tournament (247) then any other player in Kentucky’s illustrious history. His best game was also his last, when he scored 24 points and hit a tournament record-tying seven 3-pointers in the 1996 title matchup against Syracuse. His four-point play after being fouled on a made 3 helped seal the victory and cinch Final Four MOP honors. Delk, who also played in the 1993 Final Four as a freshman, averaged 18.8 points per game in the ’96 tournament to lead one of the most dominant teams of the era. — Brian Bennett


26. Jack Givens, Kentucky — Givens is best remembered for his 41-point performance in the 1978 national championship game against Duke, which was three points shy of Bill Walton’s title-game record. He sank 18 of his 27 shots against the Blue Devils. But the man nicknamed “Goose” was no one-hit wonder. The sweet-shooting, 6-foot-4 left-hander also played on Kentucky’s 1975 national runner-up team as a freshman and was the leading scorer on the 1976-77 team that lost to North Carolina in the regional final. He averaged more than 20 points per game in the ’78 tournament while shooting 65 percent in the Final Four. — Brian Bennett


My only beef with the list? If you are going to put one hit tournament wonders on the list like Mike Bibby at 75, then wheres the Brandon Knight love? Knight hit 2 game-winning shots against Princeton and Ohio State, scored 32 against West Virginia, and had 21 in the Final Four against UCONN. If only Kemba Walker hadn’t happened then we may be talking about a 5th Wildcat on the list. Either way, the 8-time National Champions were well represented.





Article written by Will Totten

Born in Indiana and raised in Louisville, I am the unlikeliest UK fan.

18 Comments for ESPN Ranks The Top 75 NCAA Tournament Players Ever

  1. Air Raid
    11:03 am February 16, 2013 Permalink

    Davis @ #59 is joke! Ralph Beard not on the list is a joke!!

  2. BoomKentucky
    11:14 am February 16, 2013 Permalink


  3. masscat
    11:18 am February 16, 2013 Permalink

    I would have liked to see a few more guys on the list myself, but arguing for Knight is a joke. While he hit the game-winners against Princeton and Ohio State, he played absolutely atrocious in both games until the final seconds. A two point and nine point performance in five total games does not a tournament legend make.

  4. James K
    11:23 am February 16, 2013 Permalink

    Bibby was great down the stretch, but if he isn’t on the list, Knight shouldn’t either.

  5. yep
    11:26 am February 16, 2013 Permalink

    No way Knight belongs on this list. You mention he scored 21 in the final four. What did it take? 23 or 24 shots? I agree that we wouldnt have been in the final four without Knight, but if he had of let Lamb had a third of his shots, we would have beat UCONN.

  6. joninky
    11:27 am February 16, 2013 Permalink

    What About Joe Crawford. I KnoW He’s NotAnthony Davis But He Carried Us His Senior Year And Played Great In The tourney

  7. Austin
    11:57 am February 16, 2013 Permalink

    #3… I agree totally. Brandon did not play that well in my opinion. I think Coach Cal wanted him to look more for his offense late in the season and play to his strength, but he didn’t play like much of a PG.. He was forcing things and it ended up costing us against UConn. He did come up big with two game winners. He played a really good game against UNC, I will give him that. Against West Virginia, he had a ton of points, but I thought it was one of those games where he was keeping both teams in the game by forcing the issue. I like the kid, but to bring him up in the top 200 would be a stretch, much less the top 75.

  8. Bulldawg
    11:58 am February 16, 2013 Permalink

    Jeff Shepard, this list should primarily consist of players that were on the championship team, IMO. GO CATS!!!!!! BEAT THE UT CONVICTS!!!!!!!

  9. Cawood2Cal
    12:09 pm February 16, 2013 Permalink

    Givens at #26 and Davis at 59 are ridiculously low.

  10. Labowski
    12:16 pm February 16, 2013 Permalink

    Where is mashburn

  11. Culver
    12:17 pm February 16, 2013 Permalink

    Mashburn dominated while playing in the NCAA tournament…he should of easily been in the top twenty.

  12. cornbreadmafiacook
    12:17 pm February 16, 2013 Permalink

    I should’ve probably looked at the entire list before responding, but all our guys seem undervalued and Goose at #26 is absolutely ridiculous

  13. little richie
    12:18 pm February 16, 2013 Permalink

    bibby won a title, while knight was clutch no title no love

  14. Joe
    12:20 pm February 16, 2013 Permalink

    Seriously!? No monster mash? I figured he would be our highest ranked player

  15. KcMunk
    12:28 pm February 16, 2013 Permalink

    Bibby won a title and went deep in a second Tourney. Knight was great but to be considered in the top 75 is laughable.

  16. B-diddy
    1:26 pm February 16, 2013 Permalink

    This write up is garbage! Way to drop the pick names from a hat espn. Leave out Mario Chalmers? Carmelo at 26 and Anthony Davis at 59 is a joke. The “Cuse” play an extra game and Ant still beats Melo in three of the five big categories. Yes, Melo did score a combined 121 points to Ant Davis’s 64. Syracuse had one other NBA player on that roster, Kentucky sent 5 to the NBA.

  17. Derick
    3:47 pm February 16, 2013 Permalink

    Um…Wayne Turner, anyone?

  18. Aaron
    7:42 pm February 16, 2013 Permalink

    Love my Cats. I am living in Fla… This rough, I will wear a Kentucky shirt, tomorrow!!! WEareUK!!!! My cars have UK all over them… plus work truck!!!! I Love Big Blue… We need a Kentucky dance!!! Heaven is blue and white!!! Go Big Blue!!! From Central Florida…