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5 unbreakable March Madness records

Profile Picture: Jason Ence

March 18th, 2020

Even though the NCAA Tournament won't happen this year, we can still look back and enjoy some of the most memorable performances in March Madness history.

Here are the five single-game tournament records that will never be broken.

Most points by a player — Austin Carr, 61 (1970)

In today’s age of team basketball and junk defenses, it is unlikely we will ever again see a performance like the one Austin Carr had against Ohio in the 1970 NCAA Tournament.

In Notre Dame’s 112-82 win, the guard set records for points (61), shots made (25), and shots attempted (44). At 6-foot-4 and 200 pounds, there were few players at that time who could match up with his size and speed.

“We put five different players on Carr tonight, and he still scored 50 points,” Adolph Rupp once said of Carr.

Carr scored 158 points in the 1970 tournament. He is eighth on the list for most points in a single tournament — and everyone else in the top 10 played at least five games. The record of 184 by Glen Rice would have been topped if Carr played one more game in the tournament.

Of the top five single-game scoring performances in the Tournament, Carr holds three. The fact that he did it without a three-point shot makes the feat even more mind-blowing. Only one player has even reached 50 points in a game over the last 40 years, when David Robinson scored 50 in 1987, and no player in the 21st century has scored 45 in a single game.

Fewest points by a team — North Carolina, 20 (1941)

Given this game was played nearly 80 years ago, it’s obvious the record will never be met. North Carolina faced Pittsburgh in the first round and fell, 26-20, in the lowest-scoring game by far in the Tournament. The Tar Heels almost tripled that score in the regional third-place game, when they fell to Dartmouth, 60-59.

With the advent of the three-point shot, combined with the prevalence of foul shooting, it would be impossible to score only 20 points in an game now.

Most field goals attempted — 112, Marshall (1972)

For any game to break this record in regulation, a team would need to attempt 2.8 shots per minute, or one nearly every 22 seconds. Even if both teams played at a break-neck speed for the entire 40 minutes, it would be seemingly impossible to break this record. Missed shots on fouls do not count as field goals, so rewriting this record in an era of higher foul totals makes it even more difficult.

Marshall fell 112-101 to Louisiana, even though it took 32 more shots than its opponent. Louisiana made 42 of its 80 shot attempts. Marshall also made 42. It was free throws that decided the game. Louisiana making 28 and Marshall made 17. Five different Marshall players took at least 14 shots, and Russell Lee went 11-of-29 to lead the team.

Most combined points — 264, Loyola Marymount vs. Michigan (1990)

Seeing a tournament game end 65-58 would not surprise anybody these days. Nor would it shock anybody to see a game end 84-57.

Those scores were the totals of the two halves Loyola Marymount and Michigan put together in the second round of the 1990 NCAA tournament. LMU led 65-58 at the break, before it put 84 points on the board in the second half.

The Lions made 21 three-pointers in a blowout win. Jeff Fryer scored 41 points, including an NCAA record 11 threes made (in a record 22 attempts), and was one of four Loyola players who scored at least 20 points. The teams made 51 free throws, but the Wolverines had no answer for the outside shooting of their opponent and made just four of their 13 attempts.

One stretch of the game saw the teams score on seven consecutive possessions, and LMU topped the 100 point mark 27 times that year. Also, Fryer and Bo Kimble (37 points) scored more points between them, than 22 of the 32 teams in the second round of the tournament.

The top five scoring games in the NCAA Tournament included LMU, and no game has come within 30 points of this shootout. The last game to top 200 total points was more than 10 years ago.

Largest margin of victory in the Final Four — 44 points, Villanova vs. Oklahoma (2016)

Kansas defeated Marquette, 94-61, in the 2003 Final Four, in a game few thought would be topped in regard to the margin of victory. That was until 2016, when Villanova destroyed Oklahoma, 95-61. Villanova shot 71.4% from the floor, while the Sooners shot 31.7%. The Wildcats made 11 of their 18 three-pointers in the game, and simply could not be stopped on offense.

The game was actually close early, but the Wildcats pulled away in the final 10 minutes of the first half, as Oklahoma went more than six minutes without scoring. Sooner star Buddy Hield was shut down and did not even attempt a shot in the final 13 minutes of the game.

It was as dominant of a performance as we will ever see in the Final Four, and is even more astounding when you realize that Oklahoma beat Villanova in December of that season by 23 points.


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