NCAA Tournament 2013: 25 Biggest Slam Dunks to Ever Rock March Madness

Ethan GrantAnalyst IMarch 12, 2013

NCAA Tournament 2013: 25 Biggest Slam Dunks to Ever Rock March Madness

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    March Madness is here, and in the spirit of the high-flying highlights we are graced with every season, it's a good time to look back at some of the biggest slam dunks of past NCAA tournaments.

    Timeless highlights are always fun, but dunks never fail to steal the show. The dunk is a maneuver that first came back to popularity after the 1976 season. It hasn't disappointed since, and fans everywhere are now thankful that the NCAA lifted the ban and allowed athleticism to protrude from all aspects of the game. 

    From North Carolina State's 1983 game-winning dunk to last year's onslaught of top talent, there are plenty of options from which to choose from.

    Here's a look at 25 of the biggest slam dunks to ever grace us with their presence in March's biggest annual draw.

James Michael McAdoo — 2012 vs. Vermont

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    McAdoo will be a top NBA prospect after the completion of this year's 2013 NCAA tournament, but he looked like one last year too—especially after this put-back dunk over Vermont.

    The North Carolina forward climbed up high and threw it down with one hand—a phrase that you'll find repeats itself quite often in the course of this list.

Stanley Robinson — 2009 vs. Michigan State

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    Connecticut didn't manage to oust Michigan State during the 2009 Final Four, but it did manage to provide us with plenty of highlights—starting with Stanley Robinson.

    Robinson got the rebound on one end, ran the floor after the outlet pass and found himself in perfect position for a two-handed put-back dunk off the layup miss. He rocked the rim and pulled UConn within three, but the Huskies couldn't pull this one out.

    Lucky for them and coach Jim Calhoun, Kemba Walker would come along in 2011. Still, Robinson's dunk is one of the biggest rim-rockers in tournament history.

Hakim Warrick — 2003 vs. Texas

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    Warrick and Carmelo Anthony helped lead the Syracuse Orange to an improbable yet memorable tournament run in 2003, but no dunk from that event was more important or highlight-worthy than Warrick's baseline jam over Texas in the Final Four.

    He tracked the rebound all the way on the other side of the court, saw no one was paying attention to the basket and soared through the air.

    He went right at Royal Ivey and laid down a slam that not only helped ignite the crowd but also showed that Syracuse was indeed worthy of an NCAA national championship appearance (and win).

Derrick Williams — 2011 vs. Duke

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    Williams had several dunks in this game that were of note, but none of more highlight potential than this one.

    Jumping above a highly talented Duke team, Williams helped the Arizona Wildcats reach the Elite Eight to face the Connecticut Huskies with dunks like this one.

    He also helped improve his draft stock in the process, as the Minnesota Timberwolves selected Williams with the No. 2 overall pick. Dunks like this helped solidify his name as a top pick and will place him among the best to ever don the navy and red at Arizona.

Clyde Drexler — 1983 vs. Louisville

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    Clyde "The Glide" Drexler was part of the "Phi Slama Jama" Houston squad in the 1980s, and he proved that mantra was correct with this dunk over Louisville in the 1983 tournament.

    He ran the court smoothly on the fast break (hence the "Glide" part of his famous nickname) and caught the bounce pass in stride for a two-handed dunk.

    Not only did he dunk with two hands, but he also went up for a one-handed flush before deciding to change course in mid-flight. These are the kinds of dunks that made Clyde the Glide a legend in both NCAA and NBA circles.

Grant Hill — 1991 vs. Kansas

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    Duke's first championship in 1991 was a memorable one—Grant Hill made sure of that.

    In the final against Kansas, Hill caught an alley-oop pass and proceeded to dunk it with one hand to give Duke a six-point lead in the early going.

    It looked like Hill and the ball were both going out of bounds on the broadcast, but he found a way to slam it home—something he did a lot during his career as a Blue Devil.

Jeremy Pargo — 2009 vs. Akron

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    Pargo hasn't struck it rich yet in the NBA, but during the 2009 NCAA tournament, you didn't see many dunks that rivaled this one from the guard out of Gonzaga.

    With a little over three minutes remaining in the second half, Pargo took all of the wind out of Akron's sails, sending this one in for a commanding 17-point lead and a spot in our ranking for one of the best in NCAA tournament history.

Darrell Griffith — 1980 vs. LSU

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    Dr. Dunkenstein got his nickname doing dirty things like this on the basketball court.

    Not only is this dunk an impressive display of athleticism and creativity, but it also even has a name—the "Around the World" dunk.

    Needless to say, this was an easy choice for the list after this 1980 tournament and Griffith's dunk for the Louisville Cardinals.

Quincy Acy — 2012 vs. Xavier

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    Acy might fool around and find himself on this list twice, if you know what I'm getting at.

    This 2012 dunk over Xavier following an inbound was one of the best of the entire tournament, and was a clear favorite to land here under the "biggest" designation.

    Acy gave us highlight after highlight during his time at Baylor, rising well above guys that were both bigger and more talented than him just by pure vertical ability. This one-handed oop was nasty, and it's one of those clips you don't mind seeing from six different angles.

Blake Griffin — 2009 vs. Michigan

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    When you look back at Blake Griffin highlights, it's like looking into the future.

    That was the case during his 2008-09 season at Oklahoma, when he was putting up monster numbers and putting college kids on a poster in the process. 

    He did so against Michigan during the 2009 tourney, getting this leak-out dunk against the Wolverines while helping to spark the Sooners to a deep tournament run during 2009 March Madness.

Royce White — 2012 vs. Kentucky

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    White took the NCAA by storm with his performance at Iowa State in 2012, but we've yet to see those skills translate to the NBA.

    No matter, there's plenty of highlights of the youngster to make us keep hope alive for his potential place in the big leagues. This highlight against Anthony Davis was one of those moments.

    After stealing the ball on one end, White went coast to coast, out-ran Davis to the cup and eluded the entire Kentucky defense en route to a slam that will go down as one of his career best. It also finds a place in this list, especially after dunking on the future No. 1 overall pick with little hesitation.

Greg Oden — 2007 vs. Florida

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    Oden had more than a few memorable plays during his one season at Ohio State, but we're generous enough to bring you three during this slide.

    He was an absolute monster against Florida during the 2007 national championship game, making guys pay for leaving any sort of crease in the lane. These three dunks are three of his best, and any three could be considered one of the biggest in tournament history.

    If you're feeling bored, go check out this near-miss by Oden in the same tourney.

Quincy Acy — 2009 vs. St. Mary's

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    Skip to the 2:50 mark of this video to see this spectacular slam. 

    During Baylor's special 2009 tournament run, Acy was one of the catalysts. He managed to provide the big-play material that fed perfectly around guys like Tweedy Carter and LaceDarius Dunn, and that was evident during this dunk over St. Mary's in the 2009 tourney.

    You have to be pretty special to crack a list twice, but Acy is right up there with the fiercest dunkers in collegiate history. He earned his place on this list.

Durrell Summers — 2009 vs. UConn

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    Stanley Robinson is already on this list as a dunker, but now he's on it as part of a poster.

    From the same game—Michigan State and Connecticut—Durrell Summers took a fast-break pass off of a UConn turnover and dunked over one of the biggest leapers in college basketball that season, and he didn't mind getting excited about it.

    His efforts helped the Spartans move on to the 2009 national championship game.

Terrence Jones — 2012 vs. Western Kentucky

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    A lot of these dunks are hitting close to home to fans because they have a "20" in front of the year number. That's partly because dunkers now are doing more than many guys previously ever could, and athletes are getting more explosive by the second.

    That's definitely the case with Terrence Jones here in the first round against Western Kentucky, as the Kentucky product flies under the rim and in one motion puts in a one-handed put-back dunk in UK's romp of in-state rival WKU.

    It was one of many dunks that the Wildcats poured on during their championship run, but it was also one of the best.

Clyde Drexler — 1983 vs. Memphis (State)

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    Clyde joins Quincy Acy as a two-time participant on the list, mainly because he's looking like Michael Jordan well before Jordan was doing this on a regular basis.

    Drexler makes short work of the Memphis State defender, jumping over him in the second round of the 1983 tournament and putting Houston in firm control of a game it was never supposed to lose.

    Enjoy, hoops fans.

Brandon Rush — 2008 vs. Villanova

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    Rush showed extreme athleticism with this dunk, combining the skills of both hanging in the air for an insane amount of time with catching a pass on a short-hop off the backboard.

    It was a pretty dunk, and Rush made it look easy when in fact the degree of difficulty in both catching the short-hop and hanging in the air for that long are both extremely high.

Kenneth Faried — 2011 vs. Louisville

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    Kenneth Faried's big NCAA tournament in 2011 helped catch the eye of the Denver Nuggets, and he was dunking the ball just as hard at Morehead State as he is now with Denver.

    That was especially true on this dunk, which can be seen at the 4:15 mark of this video, when he dunks on Louisville en route to a major tournament upset.

    Faried and Morehead State couldn't beat Richmond in Round 2, but this dunk was a hallmark of his time in college, and it should be applauded as such.

James Ennis — 2012 vs. New Mexico

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    Long Beach State was a sleeper in the 2012 tournament, in large part because of the athleticism that guys like James Ennis have to offer.

    This sweet steal-and-slam came in a pivotal moment, and featured him jumping nearly across the lane to his right to elevate and dunk it home.

    It was truly a nice display of leaping ability and strength as the crowd went wild down the stretch.

Alfred Aboya — 2006 vs. Florida

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    Florida cruised to a win over UCLA in this 2006 tournament class, but it was Alfred Aboya who had the highlight of the night.

    On an inbound play under the UCLA basket, Darren Collison found Aboya for a slam over Joakim Noah, and he got his money's worth with both execution and allowing his swing to carry him right over Noah's head as he came back down.

    Noah and Aboya have gone separate ways during their professional careers, but this is a highlight that will remain in Aboya's personal collection for a long time.

Corey Maggette — 1999 vs. Temple

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    We often forget about Corey Maggette because he's yet to be a contributor on a team that anyone will remember, but he's an underrated star at putting the ball in the basket, and that was true in college, too.

    He was also a high-flier, and did so with great prowess in leaping above the Temple defenders for this monster two-handed slam.

    It's easy to forget about Maggette, but not when he's doing incredible things like this. He'll live on as one of the best Duke players that rarely gets mention, but we'll give him plenty of mention on this list.

Dwyane Wade — 2003 vs. Kentucky

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    Wade has been scoring on folks for years, circa 2003.

    He led the way for Marquette in a stunning upset of No. 1-seeded Kentucky, and put an exclamation point on the victory with this dagger late in the second half.

    In a sign of things to come, we've seen Wade do some similar things during his time with the Miami Heat. He was a star at Marquette, and that was evident on this March day in 2003.

    Check out the clip and see why.

Elliot Williams — 2009 vs. Villanova

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    Williams isn't the first Duke Blue Devil we'll remember, but he certainly isn't the last, either.

    His epic left-handed flush against Villanova in 2009, found at the 0:24 mark of this video, made sure of that.

    Williams used a screen at the top of the key and drove right down Main Street before taking off with the ball in his left hand. Taking contact, he managed to drive the ball home and draw a foul, marking one of the most acrobatic plays we've ever seen on a dunk of this magnitude.

Magic Johnson — 1979 vs. Indiana State

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    Many people remember the legendary battle that began between Larry Bird and Magic Johnson after the 1979 NCAA national championship game. Bird's Indiana State squad lost to Johnson and the Michigan State Spartans, but this game wasn't about Bird and Johnson one on one.

    However, it was about Johnson asserting himself as one of the best to ever play in college basketball.

    He cemented that with this monstrous dunk over Bob Heaton in the final game of the '79 season; it's a dunk that really transcends time as one of the best of all time.

    In an age when very few could get up that high, Magic made it look easy and put Heaton on a poster (or a piece of paper, or something).

Lorenzo Charles — 1983 NC Game

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    The last dunk on the list just so happens to be one of the best plays in college basketball history, too.

    Lorenzo Charles didn't have the pedigree of Hakeem Olajuwon or Clyde Drexler during the 1983 NCAA tournament, but by the time it was over, he would have a place in tournament lore forever.

    Catching the errant shot as time expired, Charles put in a dunk that gave an improbable win to North Carolina State and coach Jim Valvano, beating the "Phi Slama Jama" Houston Cougars and stunning the nation.

    It didn't have the flash or flair that some of these dunks did, but it certainly deserves top billing. It was the biggest dunk in NCAA history.