In high-pressure Sweet 16 games, momentum is critical, and few plays can swing it faster than a jaw-dropping slam dunk. Luckily for fans—not to mention the teams remaining in the 2013 tournament field—there are plenty of world-class dunkers to be found among the remaining title contenders.
Syracuse has the luxury of having two of the best, and they can often be found setting each other up for an electrifying finish. When Michael Carter-Williams isn’t lofting an alley-oop for C.J. Fair, Fair is spreading out the defense to help Carter-Williams attack the rim himself.
Read on for more on the Orange arsenal and the rest of the 16 most impressive rim-rockers you’ll find in the 2013 Sweet 16, ranked by a combination of the quality and quantity of their jams.
A 6’6”, 250-pound brick wall of a power forward, Chane Behanan does most of his damage below the rim. However, he earned a place on this list with one sensational finish against DePaul in February.
As you can see in the video above, when Behanan gets up a head of steam, he can soar like a shooting guard in spite of his bulk.
A major reason he so rarely shows off his dunking ability is that Russ Smith usually finishes Cardinal fast breaks so quickly that the forwards don’t even get past midcourt.
There are plenty of impressive athletes in Florida’s eight-man rotation but none who can finish like Casey Prather. The 6’6” reserve (one of the few Gator wings who isn’t a three-point threat) gets the great majority of his offense in transition.
Fortunately for Prather—and Florida fans—the Gators’ stellar defense produces fast-break opportunities aplenty. With his long arms and impressive vertical, the junior can get the crowd on its feet faster than anyone else on Billy Donovan’s roster.
The lightning to Derrick Nix’s thunder, Adreian Payne stands 6’10” but often looks more like a wing player than a big man on offense. He can take slower defenders out to the three-point line, only to put the ball on the floor and make plays in the paint.
When he doesn’t set up his own dunking opportunities, Payne is also a dangerous pick-and-roll option in the half court.
Michigan State’s big men don’t get too many chances to play transition offense, but when Payne does get out on the fast break, he’s an imposing finisher.
As Duke’s best (and sometimes only) defensive rebounder, Mason Plumlee is more likely to start a Blue Devil fast break than to finish one. On the occasions when he does get a chance to run with the guards, though, Plumlee can bring down the house.
Plumlee’s 235 pounds of muscle give him more power behind his jams than many of the smaller players on this list.
He’ll occasionally show off his leaping ability on the offensive glass, too, though in most cases he’ll go for the sure-thing putback rather than a flashier dunk.
Fans who missed seeing Branden Dawson when a foot injury kept him out of the 2012 tournament are getting to find out how much he means to Michigan State.
The 6’6” SF isn’t the most dangerous scorer among the Spartans’ perimeter options, but he’s the best finisher by an appreciable margin.
The same explosive quickness and strength that make Dawson such an impressive defender also let him attack the rim with abandon. That potential makes him a favorite transition target for speedy PG Keith Appling.
In a loaded Miami frontcourt, the factor that sets Kenny Kadji apart—even more than his 24 years of age—is that he pairs a 6’11”, 242-pound frame with exceptional quickness and agility.
In addition to making him a serious perimeter threat, those attributes also make Kadji the most explosive of the ‘Canes’ interior scorers.
With rising star Shane Larkin running the Miami point, Kadji gets plenty of opportunities to finish at the rim. He can turn a pick-and-roll into an intimidating alley-oop or throw down an exclamation point to cap a fast break with equal facility.
Michigan point guard Trey Burke loves to throw the alley-oop, and his best target this year has been Tim Hardaway Jr. The 6’6” Hardaway has the quickness to get free and the hops to go up and grab Burke’s lobs.
Hardaway is also a terrific ball-handler in his own right, allowing him to create some impressive finishes for himself in the half-court game.
On top of all that, his instincts for playing the passing lanes give him even more opportunities to fire up the crowd with transition slams.
Florida Gulf Coast is getting nicknamed “Dunk City” for a reason. The Eagles are well supplied with high-powered finishers, and Eric McKnight is among the best of them.
The 6’9” sophomore is a prime target for alley-oop specialist Brett Comer at point guard. Whether in transition or in the Eagles’ fluid half-court attack, McKnight is a threat for a slam on any play.
Although Glenn Robinson III didn’t quite get his dad’s size, he has at least as much explosiveness as the former NBA All-Star. His length and mobility make him an ideal fit in Michigan’s wide-open offense—especially when it comes to getting to the rim.
With the Wolverines spending so little time looking for post-up points, Robinson has plenty of room to get to the rack. As you’ll see in the above video, he can make even more impressive plays when he gets an opening in transition.
Michael Carter-Williams’ jump shot leaves a lot to be desired, but that doesn’t mean he’s not a serious scoring threat. The 6’6” Carter-Williams has the length and toughness to challenge bigger defenders in the paint and come out on top.
Sometimes, the ball comes out on top of those defenders in a more literal fashion as Carter-Williams slams it on their heads.
As much as he’s a threat to set up an alley-oop for his Orange teammates, there are times when Carter-Williams is an even better dunking option than his team's impressive frontcourt is.
Little-used freshman Gabe York may have won the Wildcats’ intrasquad dunking contest, but when it comes to players who will actually get in the game this weekend, 6’3” Nick Johnson is Arizona’s best rim-rocker.
Johnson isn’t shy about going for style points in a game situation, as the above 360-degree slam shows.
However, he’s also one of the few players on this list who's made highlight reels as a shot-blocker after his game-saving rejection on San Diego State’s Chase Tapley in December.
On an Ohio State offense that’s frequently ugly, Sam Thompson provides enough style points to go around.
The 6’7” sophomore is making the most of his first year as a starter, especially when it comes to turning fast-break opportunities into highlight-reel fixtures.
Thompson’s prodigious wingspan allows him to finish over bigger players with comparative ease, setting up some of his most impressive jams.
Of course, with top-notch PG Aaron Craft to feed him, he gets plenty of opportunities to show off his slam skills—especially when the Buckeyes’ lethal defense produces a fast break.
When FGCU faced Georgetown in the first round, Chase Fieler was giving up an average of 24 pounds to Hoya bigs Mikael Hopkins and Nate Lubick.
For the 6’8”, 205-pound Eagle PF, all that meant was that it would be that much harder for him to be caught on the fast break.
Fieler’s tremendous speed and leaping ability lets him beat opposing post players down the floor as a matter of course.
The much-replayed alley-oop that capped the upset over the Hoyas was only one demonstration of how impressive a finisher he is when he gets ahead of the defense.
C.J. Fair wouldn’t be leading Syracuse in scoring if all he did was dunk. Given the opportunity, though, Fair can throw it down better than anyone on a deep and athletic Orange roster.
Blessed with a wingspan to match his 6’8” frame, Fair can go up and grab alley-oop passes that few other players could get a finger on.
He can also get the leverage to finish even a contested slam, as he showed against defensive standout Otto Porter Jr. in the Big East tourney.
Whether on offense or defense, Victor Oladipo provides the energy that turns Indiana from a good team into a great one.
When the Hoosiers have the ball, that often means providing highlight-reel jams to complement his teammates’ deadeye jump shooting.
Oladipo has the ball-handling ability to get to the rim even when the defense is set, but he’s also the Hoosiers' most frequent option for a one-man fast break.
When the Big Ten steals leader is also a show-stopping dunker, he can set up his own opportunities with daunting regularity.
Ben McLemore is a serious contender for the No. 1 overall pick in June’s NBA draft, which (for a shooting guard) is pretty much a guarantee of eye-popping athleticism. The Kansas redshirt freshman has lived up to that prediction in spades.
As much damage as McLemore has done with his three-point shooting, he’s also the best finisher on the Jayhawk roster by leaps and bounds.
He owes his ball-handling skills a lot for being the top rim-rocker on this list; they allow him to create plenty of jams for himself when he's not being set up by his teammates.