With March Madness About To Start, Top 5 Men’s Basketball Runs in the Tournament

Published 03/01/2024, 11:47 AM EST

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The March Madness will begin soon and basketball teams will battle it out against each other with cutthroat competition. The tournament is an elimination battle and is so tough that even a single loss can end the chances of the best teams.

With the anticipation for the tourney at its highest, Essentially Sports takes a look at the highest-scoring performances in a single tournament that certainly helped their respective teams have a good time

Glen Rice, Michigan Wolverines, 1989 – 184 points


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Glen Rice is regarded as one of the best scorers to have been groomed by Michigan Wolverines. He scored a humongous 184 points in the six games he played. For his exceptional display, Rice was named as NCAA Final Four Most Outstanding Player. He was the key figure behind Michigan’s title win in 1989. Even today he occupies the top spot in a number of statistics for Michigan, mostly around the points he scored.

Michigan’s moment in the tournament came when they edged past Seton Hall by a narrow margin of 80-79 in overtime. Rice smashed a spectacular 31 points and was no less in rebounds as he nabbed 11 rebounds in the game. Other than that, he had a cumulative 30 points score four times in the tournament. Due to his high-scoring performances, Rice was drafted by Miami Heat who needed to improve their offensive tactics in the NBA. And Rice albeit slowly but finally gave Heat what they were expecting of him. 

Bill Bradley, Princeton Tigers, 1965- 177 points

Bill Bradley represented Princeton Tigers from 1962-65 and was a force to reckon with. His peak performance in the March Madness came during the 1965 tournament when he smoked an astounding 177 points. He also swept major college Player of the Year awards. One of the best performances that season came against Michigan Wolverines when he thrashed a whopping 41 points. However, he also fouled out in that game which is said to have been a major reason behind Princeton’s loss. 

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Next, as was the tournament format, the two losing teams of the semifinals would compete against each other and Bradley in that game struck with his heroics by smashing 58 points against Wichita State and that is the highest-scoring game in the March Madness up till now. Bradley compensated with his balling acumen what he lacked in physicality and is regarded as one of the best players of his era.

Elvin Hayes, Houston Cougars, 1968- 167 points

The third player to feature on this list is Houston Cougars’ Elvin Hayes. Hayes amassed an enormous 167 points during his 1968 run of the March Madness. Even in the season he had an impressive 36.8 points per game and was a major scorer for Cougars. Hayes was instrumental in taking Cougars to the semi-finals. He scored a splendid 49 points in the first match against Loyola. But he did not take a rest even after decimating so many points. 

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He topped them up with 35 against Louisville, and then again proved his mettle against TCU by scoring 39 points. He therefore was a key reason for Cougars’ exceptional performance in that tournament.

Unfortunately, Hayes could only pot 10 points against UCLA in the semi-final. Nonetheless, his jersey no. 44 was retired by Houston Cougars in November 2022 which again is a testament to his importance in the team.

Danny Manning, Kansas Jayhawks, 1988- 163 points

Jayhawks won their second title in 1988 with the help of Danny Manning. Fondly known as ‘D’, Manning was a forward for Jayhawks team and was 6 feet 10 inches in height. He averaged a magnificent 24.8 points per game and continued his on-song performances in the March Madness. He smashed around 25 points in four games. 

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He played a total of 6 games in the March Madness and smoked a splendid 31 points with a whopping 18 rebounds in the Championship Finale. Thus he reserved his best performance for the last game. This helped Jayhawks lift the title. He was then drafted to Los Angeles Clippers in 1988. However, Manning wasn’t done with college basketball yet. He came back to Kansas in 2006 and became an assistant coach. He also led them to a championship title in 2008. 


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Jerry West, West Virginia Mountaineers, 1959- 160 points

One of the most famous names to feature in this list is that of Jerry West. He was nicknamed the “Logo” because his image was used as a base for the NBA logo. West played for West Virginia Mountaineers from 1957 to 1960. He smoked an incredible 26.6 points per game during the 1959 tournament and cherried that up with exceptional performances in the March Madness. He will always be remembered in the college basketball circuit for smashing 160 points in the 5 games he played.


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He scored mostly in 30s especially 38 during the national semifinals which was etched in the memory of all those who watched that game. However, during the national finals, his team could not bring home the title as Jerry scored 28 points in the crucial game. Nonetheless, he went on to have a fairly successful NBA career.


Written by:

Ritvan Pande


One take at a time

Ritvan Pande is an NBA writer at EssentiallySports. He covers Perspectives and Classics as the expert in the longform coverage. Inspired by the fabled Chicago Bulls trio of Michael Jordan, Scottie Pippen and Dennis Rodman, Ritvan captures the staggering court encounters in the same competitive style.
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Edited by:

Bilal Handoo