By: Killian C
It seems like we have at least one emerging star from every tournament, last year it was Max Abmas of Oral Roberts University and Johnny Juzang from UCLA, this year it is Doug Edert from the improbable St. Peter’s Peacocks. Nonetheless, every year we see someone separate themselves from the pack, whether that be from average starter to star, or it be, star to generational talent. The tournament is the best time to have a career defining game. Today we will be looking at some of the best performances of all time in the tournament.
2003 Dwyane Wade Elite 8 Versus Kentucky
In 2022 we remember Dwayne Wade as an all-time great. A blur on the court, hence his nickname “The Flash.” Dwyane always played with an innate toughness to his game. But he was not always as well- known as he is today. In the 2002-2003 regular season for his Marquette Golden Eagles, he averaged a measly 21, 4, and 6. The Golden Eagles finished the season ranked 9th in the Nation, and they went into the Tournament with a 3 seed. Wade and company made it very deep in the tournament, beating a number 2 and a number 1 seed. In the Elite Eight, Wade turned in one of the greatest performances in tournament history putting up 29,11, and 11 right on the stupid Wildcats face. His threes were falling, his defense suffocating, and his teammates were knocking down all their shots. In turn, the Golden Eagles fucked on the stupid Wildcats with a score of 83-69. The magic would run out though as Marquette would fall to Kansas in the Final Four at the hands of the senior duo of Nick Collison and Kirk Hinrich. This loss would not hinder Wade’s stock, as he would be selected with the 5th overall pick of the legendary 2003 draft. Wade went on to have an all-time great career and cement himself as the greatest player in Miami Heat history and top 3 at his position all-time.
2011 Jimmer Freddete Round of 32 Versus Gonzaga
The all-time leader in 3 pointers made in college basketball history obviously has some spot on this list, and it was hard to pinpoint one since he was such a force in college, but I decided to go with this one. Jimmer had one of the smoothest shooting strokes of all time, and it showed this game, as he dropped 34 on Gonzaga’s head including 7 threes. Gonzaga was an 11 seed, so not the force they are today, but still very respectable. Jimmer would go crazy the next game as well, but he goes to BYU, so that showed. BYU would fall to the Florida Gators led by Chandler Parsons (the dude who got the big ass contract from the grizzlies and didn’t play for them at all.) Jimmer never panned out in the NBA, but he will always be remembered for going nuclear on the biggest stages.
2011 Kemba Walker Sweet 16 Versus San Diego State
While making this list I hope we all see the same common denominator, success in the tournament is determined by your guard play. The backcourt of the 2011 UConn Huskies is one of the greatest of all time including consensus All-American Kemba Walker and lottery pick Jeremy Lamb. The Huskies finished the 2011 regular season 21-9, a respectable record in the ACC, but not good enough to garner any national attention. The Huskies then underwent the biggest turnaround in sports history, as they transformed into some powerhouse, and absolutely plowed through their competition. They ran through the ACC tournament with ease. They entered the NCAA tournament as a 2 seed and still relatively low expectations all things considered. They then went on to show America how little you would like to fuck with a husky. Through the round of 64 with ease, then the round of 32 just as easily. Their first challenge came in the Sweet 16, where they faced the San Diego State Aztecs led by some bum named Kawhi Leonard. Known for their suffocating defense, San Diego State underestimated the short guy. Kemba Walker went on to drop 36 on the so called “Ministers of Defense.” Kemba led the Huskies to the Elite 8, then the Final 4, then the National Championship. They didn’t stop, it was destiny for them to win the title. All of this madness lead to the worst college basketball championship of all time, funny as it is. But that is another story for another time.