A look at some of the top scorers in NCAA Tournament history, plus we find a few candidates for 2023’s leading scorer in March Madness.
Who are the top scorers in March Madness history?
It’s not a well-known record, because the NCAA Tournament is all about the teams. Whether it’s your alma mater, or just a team you picked in a bracket, fans tend to focus on the teams more than the individuals.
But with the increased popularity of wagering on player props, identifying the top scorers in March Madness can be important for bettors just the same.
Here’s a look at March Madness’ leading scorers through history, followed by a couple candidates to light up the scoreboard in the 2023 NCAA Tournament.
Glen Rice, 1989 Michigan Wolverines: 184 Points
So, if you’re asked who is the all time March Madness leading scorer? You now know – it’s Glen Rice
The NCAA adopted the 3-point shot for the 1987 NCAA Tournament, and just two years later University of Michigan star Glen Rice would make the long ball his main weapon in setting a new record for points scored in March Madness.
During the Wolverines’ six-game trek to the NCAA Championship, Rice lit up opposing defenses with 184 points, an average of 30.7 per contest. This included 27 three-pointers, so almost exactly half his points came via the three.
Rice was remarkably consistent, never scoring fewer than 23 points in any game during the Tournament.
His high game was 36 points vs. South Alabama in Round 2, but his best game was probably a regional semifinal win over North Carolina, where Rice scored 34 points on 13-of-18 shooting, including 8 three pointers.
Obviously, the three-pointer benefitted Rice a great deal, but our second-place scorer didn’t have that weapon at his disposal.
Bill Bradley, 1965 Princeton Tigers: 177 Points
Not only did Bradley accumulate 177 points without the three-pointer, his Princeton team lost in the Final Four. So he played only five games to reach the number!
The tournament had only 23 teams in 1965, and Bradley led Princeton to three straight wins by averaging 30 points per contest.
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But powerful Michigan clobbered Princeton in the Final Four (despite Bradley’s 29 points), relegating the Tigers to the third-place game (yes, the Tournament had a third-place game in those days) where they hammered Wichita State, 118-82 on the strength of Bradley’s 58 points.
Pretty remarkable, right? 58 points in a 40-minute game? But the record stood only five years, because…
Austin Carr, 1970 Notre Dame Fighting Irish: 158 Points
Carr’s 1970 total is good for a tie for seventh place for most points scored in a single tournament.
So why are we highlighting him instead of the third- or fourth-place finisher? Because the Notre Dame star achieved the mark in only three games!
Carr might’ve been a little too good for early 1970s college basketball. He AVERAGED 38 points per game in both his junior and senior seasons, but his greatest feat came in round one of the 1970 Tournament, where he put up 61 points in a Notre Dame win over Ohio.
He followed it up with 52 in a second-round loss to Kentucky and finished his short Tournament with 45 points in the third-place contest against Iowa. Had Notre Dame advanced in the Tournament, allowing Carr to play 5-6 games, who knows where this record might stand today?
Here’s a complete list of the Top 10 individual scoring performances in a single NCAA Tournament.
March Madness Leading Scorers in an Individual Tournament
|Player||Year & Team||Points Scored|
|Glen Rice||1989 Michigan Wolverines||184|
|Bill Bradley||1965 Princeton Tigers||177|
|Elvin Hayes||1968 Houston Cougars||167|
|Danny Manning||1988 Kansas Jayhawks||163|
|Jerry West||1959 West Virginia Mountaineers||160|
|Hal Lear||1956 Temple Owls||160|
|Joe Barry Carroll||1980 Purdue Boilermakers||158|
|Austin Carr||1970 Notre Dame Fighting Irish||158|
|Juan Dixon||2002 Maryland Terrapins||155|
|Jay Williams||2001 Duke Blue Devils||154|
Who are the Leading Scorers in the 2023 NCAA Tournament?
Can any players challenge Glen Rice’s record or even move onto the Top 10 list in the 2023 NCAA Tournament? Here are a few candidates for March Madness top scorers in 2023:
Zach Edey, Purdue
March Madness is about unpredictability, but we can be pretty confident of one thing. Purdue center Zach Edey is going to be the National Player of the Year.
Averaging 22.1 points per game along with 12.7 rebounds, Edey has the Big 10-leading Boilermakers in contention for a No. 1 seed in March Madness.
The high-seeded Boilermakers should have a couple early mismatches, and if Edey racks up big numbers in those games, a trip to the Final Four could propel the nation’s top player into contention.
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Jalen Wilson, Kansas
The 6-foot-8 junior leads the defending national champions with 20 points per game. Shooting almost 35% on three pointers and 78% from the foul line, Wilson can score at all three levels.
His ability will be critical to the Jayhawks’ chance of a repeat, and Kansas figures to turn to the potential lottery pick down the stretch throughout March.
Brandon Miller, Alabama
Chances are you’ve heard Miller’s name in connection to the controversy surrounding the Crimson Tide in recent weeks. But we’re going to focus on his on-court abilities.
The freshman put up 41 points in an overtime win at South Carolina Wednesday night, and like Kansas’ Wilson enjoys high shooting percentages from all areas on the court.
Alabama relies on the three-pointer more than any other top-seeded team, and Miller leads the team at 43% from three. The Tide like to get out and run, overwhelming teams with their ability to put the ball in the basket. The perfect style for any player hoping to challenge the March Madness scoring record.
Antoine Davis of Detroit Mercy Goes for NCAA Scoring Record
OK, Davis is not going to set any March Madness scoring records. In fact, he may not even get to play in the Tournament. His Detroit Mercy team is hanging around the .500 mark and would likely need to win the Horizon League title to qualify.
But this article isn’t complete without discussing Davis’ season and what he’s trying to accomplish. The 6-foot-1 guard enters play this week with 3,601 career points scored.
Davis needs another 64 points to break the college basketball career scoring record, which has stood for 53 years when Pete Maravich scored 3,667 points over his career at LSU.
Davis relies primarily on his ball handling and outside shooting. He already holds the NCAA record for three pointers in a career (577) and has scored in double figures in every one of his 142 career games.
Antoine Davis Record Breaking Chances
What are his chances at the record? Detroit Mercy’s season was expected to end when playing Purdue-Fort Wayne on Tuesday in the first round of the Horizon League Tournament. The game ended 81-68 to Detroit Mercy.
At a current average of 27.9 points per game, it’s likely Davis would need another game to have a good chance at the record. If he gets a second game, he needs to average 32 points per contest – well within his range.
So while he may not set any March Madness records, don’t forget the name Antoine Davis when discussing college basketball’s March Madness top scorers.