The NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament is affectionately known as March Madness, and it’s one of the best events in all of the sports. Every year you are going to see some exciting games, but you are also going to see some breakout players.
You have to know who the top players are when making March Madness bets, but those players have the ability to carry their team far, or sink a big betting favorite. There are multiple breakout players every single year in the NCAA Tournament, but some players stand out more.
Here is a look at the 10 best players to ever start in March Madness.
10. Chris Webber
Chris Webber is most-known for calling a timeout and costing his team a technical foul, but he should be remembered for more than that. Webber and his “Fab Five” teammates were one of the best teams in college basketball history, and they changed the way the sport was played.
9. Michael Jordan
Michael Jordan didn’t become the greatest basketball player ever until he got to the NBA, but things started to turn for him at North Carolina. Jordan hit the game-winning shot to beat the Georgetown Hoyas.
Jordan was held back a bit by North Carolina coach Dean Smith, but playing under Smith also helped shape him into one of the best basketball players ever.
8. Patrick Ewing
Patrick Ewing would be much higher on this list if he would have been able to find a way to lead his team to a title. Ewing and his Georgetown Hoyas team just couldn’t ever pick up a win in the big game, and it’s a pretty massive stain on his legacy.
Still, Ewing will go down as one of the best centers in NCAA Tournament history.
7. Larry Bird
Larry Bird was able to take Indiana State University to the title game where they would eventually fall to Magic Johnson and Michigan State. That is still one of the best college basketball games of all time, and it was only because of Bird that the Sycamores were even in that position.
Bird became one of the most popular players in the country during that season, and other opponents from the Missouri Valley Conference found it impossible to stop him.
6. Hakeem Olajuwon
Hakeem Olajuwon was so dominant during his team at the University of Houston that he was named Most Outstanding Player of the Final Four in a losing effort. Olajuwon was nearly impossible to stop for the Cougars, but he failed to win a title in three straight trips to the Final Four.
Olajuwon put the University of Houston on the map, and it took them a long time to recover after he graduated.
5. Bill Russell
Bill Russell is one of the best NBA players in the history of the sport, but he wasn’t always well-known. In fact, Russell wasn’t recruited heavily out of high school, and he chose to go to the University of San Francisco.
That ended up being a pretty good decision for Russell as he led the school to back-to-back NCAA Championships in 1955-1956.
4. Bill Walton
Bill Walton is another former UCLA Bruins legend that just continued to rack up championships while in college. Walton helped his team to 88 straight wins at the college level and always seemed to step up his game in March.
His best performance came in the 1973 title game as he poured in 44 points in a win over Memphis State.
3. Lew Alcindor (Kareem Abdul-Jabbar)
All Lew Alcindor did at UCLA was win three straight NCAA Championships and forced the NCAA to create a new rule to limit his dominance. Alcindor is more well-known as Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, but he was more dominant as Alcindor.
The NCAA eventually put in a rule to ban dunking as a way to keep Alcindor from dominating opponents. Fortunately, that rule has been changed, but no one was stopping Alcindor in his prime.
2. Christian Laettner
Christian Laettner is one of the best college basketball players of all-time, and he was even better in March. Laettner and his Duke teammates were one of the best teams in the country as well, and he was the player that was hitting big shots.
Laettner also became one of the biggest villains in NCAA Tournament history, especially by fans of the Kentucky Wildcats.
1. Stephen Curry
Other players on this list had much more success in the NCAA Tournament, but it was Stephen Curry that was the most exciting to watch. Curry led Davidson on a magical run in March not one, but back-to-back seasons.
Curry put Davidson College on the map by hitting shots from all over the floor, and upsetting some of the biggest names in college basketball. When Curry was playing in March, it was must-see television.