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Top 13 NCAA Tournament Players of All-Time

Travel—without penalty—back in time as we count down the best NCAA tournament players in history.

7. Danny Manning, Kansas
The 1988 NCAA Championship team from Kansas was known as Danny and the Miracles because of their unlikely march to the championship game, with 11 losses and a No. 6 seed. In the final against Oklahoma, Manning scored 31 points, corralled 18 boards, made 5 steals and blocked 2 shots giving Kansas the 83-79 victory. Manning previously led the Jayhawks to the 1986 Final Four and the 1987 regional semifinal. He left Kansas as the school’s all-time leading scorer and was the overall number one pick in the NBA draft.

6. Patrick Ewing, Georgetown
Ewing was one of the most heavily recruited players of all-time; it was almost unheard of for a freshman to start let alone star for a Georgetown team in the 80’s, but Ewing did both during Georgetown’s run to the 1982 Championship game where they would lose to Michael Jordan’s North Carolina Tar Heels, despite Pat’s 23 points and 11 rebounds. Ewing would carry his team to two more championship games winning it all in 1984 by beating Houston and the memorable 1985 tilt where Villanova knocked off the heavily favored Hoyas. He was voted Most Outstanding player at the 1984 Final Four.

5. Earvin “Magic” Johnson, Michigan State
Magic is perhaps the most famous college basketball player of them all. His smile and charm captivated the hearts of nearly all sports fans more than his ability to score and dish passes. He spent two electrifying seasons at Michigan State, leading the Spartans to the Elite Eight in 1978 and the Finals in 1979. The 1979 Final is still the most watched college basketball game of all-time; it pitted Magic against Larry Bird and the undefeated Indiana State Sycamores. In this, the first of their many meetings over the next several years Magic and the Spartans won 75-64; Johnson was voted the Most Outstanding Player. His passing style and flair revolutionized the sport.

4. Bill Russell, San Francisco
Legendary Coach John Wooden called him the greatest defender in college basketball. He was so dominate that the NCAA changed the rules after he left, widening the lane and eliminating goaltending. Russell led the Dons to back to back titles in 1955 and 1956. He was a force on the inside, grabbing 50 rebounds in the 1956 Final Four, a record that still stands, including 27 boards in the title game. In 1955 Russell averaged more than 20 points and 20 rebounds to win the Most Outstanding Player award, see he was not just a defensive player.

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