When I talked with Dan Gavitt, NCAA vice president of men’s basketball championships by phone last week, he couldn't have been more excited about the honoring of the Top 15 All-Time March Madness Players, the All-Time March Madness Team, and the Top All-Time March Madness Moment on center court of the Georgia Dome during the semifinal games of the Final Four on Saturday, April 6 in Atlanta.
“We are quite pleased with the voter turnout so far and we’re fascinated at the results,” said Gavitt. “A handful of moments and a dozen or so of the teams have started to separate themselves from their competition, but the race to determine the Top 15 All-Time Players is tight. Many of the 75 finalists are still in strong contention to make the final list. It includes players who are more than five decades removed from being college stars, Most Outstanding Players at the Final Four in the last decade, and many all-time greats in between. It’s great to see fan participation across the NCAA basketball nation with as many as 21 different schools that have a player in the mix."
Gavitt told me to expect some surprises, and the latest poll front-runners include two buzzer beaters, a historic upset, a match-up of two of the game’s biggest names and a championship comeback for the ages in the best moments category; championship squads from four of basketball's powerhouse programs spanning four decades in the best team category; and more than two dozen icons who dominated the collegiate game in various eras of the sport.
Seventy-five players, 25 teams and 35 moments were selected for voting. Based on the voting to date, below are the 30 players with the most votes from fans and NCAA experts, in alphabetical order:
Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, UCLA
Steve Alford, Indiana
Carmelo Anthony, Syracuse
Larry Bird, Indiana State
Bill Bradley, Princeton
Wilt Chamberlain, Kansas
Mateen Cleaves, Michigan State
Patrick Ewing, Georgetown
Tyler Hansbrough, North Carolina
Elvin Hayes, Houston
Grant Hill, Duke
Bobby Hurley, Duke
Earvin "Magic" Johnson, Michigan State
Larry Johnson, UNLV
Michael Jordan, North Carolina
Christian Laettner, Duke
Jerry Lucas, Ohio State
Danny Manning, Kansas
Joakim Noah, Florida
Hakeem Olajuwon, Houston
Glen Rice, Michigan
Oscar Robertson, Cincinnati
Bill Russell, San Francisco
Ralph Sampson, Virginia
Isiah Thomas, Indiana
David Thompson, North Carolina State
Kemba Walker, Connecticut
Bill Walton, UCLA
Jerry West, West Virginia
James Worthy, North Carolina
The five teams leading based on fan voting come from a range of eras:
Indiana University 1975-1976
University of North Carolina 1981-1982
Duke University 1991-1992
University of Kentucky 1995-1996
University of Kentucky 2011-2012
The top five most memorable moments among fans who have voted so far include:
1979: Magic versus Bird
1983: NC State’s last-second win over Houston
1992: Christian Laettner’s last-second shot to clinch the win over Kentucky
1998: Bryce Drew’s last-second shot for Valparaiso to upset Ole Miss
2008: Kansas comes back in closing minutes to win title
Fans can keep voting until March 24, and the final results will be revealed on April 5, so stay tuned.
As a bonus, fans have a chance to enter a sweepstakes at NCAA.com/MarchMadness to win an NCAA Final Four package, including tickets to attend the 2014 Men’s Final Four in Arlington, Texas.
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