NCAA Tournament Player Rankings 2014: Real-Time Updates, March Madness Tracker

Bleacher Report College Basketball StaffFeatured ColumnistMarch 20, 2014

NCAA Tournament Player Rankings 2014: Real-Time Updates, March Madness Tracker

0 of 20

    Jamie Squire/Getty Images

    The NCAA tournament is a star factory.

    Every year in March, we're introduced to new stars, or reacquainted with ones from the past. With the eyes of the nation on them, there are always special players who come up big and make the most of their team's opportunity on the big stage. 

    Special players like Shabazz Napier, Aaron and Andrew Harrison, Frank Kaminsky and Julius Randle have delivered throughout the tournament, and they were all rewarded with trips to the Final Four. 

    This list isn't about teams, and it's not necessarily about wins either. This is all about those star-making performances that get people talking.

    Of course, things move fast in the NCAA tournament—one minute you're the star of the show; the next minute you're yesterday's news—which is why we'll be updating these rankings live throughout the tourney. 

    Players are ranked based on their stats, buzz-worthiness and significance to their team, with wins coming into play as tiebreakers. The rankings have been done in real-time throughout the tournament and here is the final list after the conclusion of the UConn Huskies' championship run.

20. Ben Brust, Wisconsin

1 of 20

    David J. Phillip

    By the numbers: Ben Brust was one of two Wisconsin players to score 15 points (along with Sam Dekker) in its 74-73 loss to Kentucky in the Final Four, but all of his came from three-point range or the free-throw line. Brust was 3-of-7 from deep and made all six foul shots. 

    Buzz factor: Brust, Wisconsin's all-time three-point leader with 235, made back-to-back threes in a 45-second span in the first half to give the Badgers a 17-9 lead.

    Why he's here: Brust was 15-of-30 from long range for the tournament, and finished the year making 39.3 percent of his long balls.

    Update by Brian J. Pedersen

19. Xavier Thames, San Diego State

2 of 20

    Mark J. Terrill/Associated Press

    By the numbers: Xavier Thames' great career ended on Thursday night, but it was not without a strong effort from the senior guard. He scored a game-high 25 points in the loss to Arizona as he shot 9-of-22 from the field. 

    Buzz factor: Thames was the best player in the Mountain West throughout the regular season, and he proved why he earned the title of Player of the Year in his three games in the tournament. 

    Why he's here: Thames averaged over 26 points per game for the Aztecs during their time in the Big Dance. He also missed just three of his 27 free throws in three games. 

    Update by Joe Tansey. 

18. Nik Stauskas, Michigan

3 of 20

    David J. Phillip

    By the numbers: After averaging 15.3 points per game in the first three games of the tournament, Nik Stauskas delivered 24 points in the Elite Eight loss to Kentucky. 

    Buzz factor: The loss of Mitch McGary to injury and increased expectations haven't slowed down Stauskas, who upped his production as a sophomore from 11 to 17 points per game.

    Why he's here: Stauskas did put up big numbers for Michigan all throughout the Big Dance, but he was not there in the second half against Kentucky after he scored 18 in the first half of Sunday's showdown. 

    Update by Joe Tansey.

17. Jarnell Stokes, Tennessee

4 of 20

    Michael Conroy

    By the numbers: Stokes was a dominant force throughout the first week of the tournament, and he continued to play strong despite facing a treacherous matchup against Jordan Morgan.

    Buzz factor: One of the most heralded recruits in Tennessee history, Stokes posted a double-double in each of his first three NCAA tournament games. He had 26 points and 14 rebounds in the second-round game against Massachusetts after recording 18 points and 13 rebounds in the First Four overtime win over Iowa.

    Why he's here: Stokes was one of the main contributors to the spectacular run of the Volunteers, as he snagged a total of 51 rebounds in four games.

    Update by Joe Tansey.

16. Jordan Morgan, Michigan

5 of 20

    Mike McGinnis/Getty Images

    By the numbers: Despite facing a total mismatch against Kentucky, Jordan Morgan scored 11 points and snagged four rebounds as Michigan fell one step short of the Final Four. He was an efficient 5-of-6 from the field in defeat.

    Buzz factor: Morgan has been the top player in the frontcourt for the Wolverines ever since Mitch McGary was declared out for the season. Against Tennessee, he was able to take away the advantage the Vols had down low.

    Why he's here: Morgan, who drew a charge on Jarnell Stokes at the end of the Tennessee game, averaged 12.7 points and 7.7 rebounds per game in the NCAA tournament. 

    Update by Joe Tansey.

15. Dyshawn Pierre, Dayton

6 of 20

    Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

    By the numbers: On a Dayton team that seems to have a different star every night, Dyshawn Pierre was the best player on the court for the Flyers in Saturday's 62-52 loss to Florida, scoring 18 points on 7-of-11 shooting with five assists and three rebounds. 

    Buzz factor: Pierre had Dayton's last 11 points, helping his team get within 58-50 with 3:57 remaining.

    Why he's here: Pierre averaged 12.5 points and 5.0 rebounds for Dayton during its magical NCAA tourney run, making 16-of-31 shots overall and 5-of-9 from three-point range.

    Update by Brian J. Pedersen

14. Dustin Hogue, Iowa State

7 of 20

    Tom Pennington/Getty Images

    By the numbers: Dustin Hogue had a monster performance for the Cyclones with a game-high 34 points against UConn. He was a surprisingly accurate 15-of-19 from the field at Madison Square Garden.

    Buzz factor: Hogue has been the main "glue guy" for Iowa State all season on defense, but he showed Friday that he could also make key plays on the offensive end.

    Why he's here: Any player who scores 34 points in a tournament game, no matter the result, deserves some credit. Hogue was also 4-of-6 from the line and pulled down six rebounds.

    Update by Joe Tansey.

13. Andrew Harrison, Kentucky

8 of 20

    Tony Gutierrez

    By the numbers: Andrew Harrison opened the national title game with a turnover, but the bad omen turned into a respectable night. Matched up with an unstoppable UConn backcourt, Harrison managed eight points (albeit on 3-of-9 shooting) while adding five rebounds, five assists and three steals.

    Buzz factor: Everybody will remember the backcourt matchup as the deciding factor in this title game, but unfortunately, that's because it all went UConn's way. Harrison wasn't bad—he was just facing a pair of smaller guards who played much, much better.

    Why he's here: Harrison wasn't the only Wildcat whose performance rocketed up under the Big Dance lights, but he was one of the most important. His improved passing (5.0 assists per game, up 1.1 from his overall average) was vital in keeping Kentucky's offense sharp.

    Update by Thad Novak

12. Branden Dawson, Michigan State

9 of 20

    Stephen Dunn/Getty Images

    By the numbers: Branden Dawson's run in the NCAA tournament ended with a whimper as he scored just five points in the East regional final against UConn. The junior did pull down eight rebounds and make three free throws in the loss. 

    Buzz factor: Dawson made headlines earlier this season when, in a moment of frustration during a film session, he broke his hand slamming it on a table. The swingman missed nine games, but since his return, he's averaged 13 points per game.

    Why he's here: Dawson was 25-of-38 from the field in his first three games of the tournament, a number that helped the Spartans advance to the Elite Eight. Despite his poor showing against UConn, Dawson still had a strong tournament. 

    Update by Joe Tansey

11. Luke Hancock, Louisville

10 of 20

    Phelan M. Ebenhack/Associated Press

    By the numbers: Luke Hancock was efficient from the field against Kentucky, but he did not have enough to power the Cardinals back into the Elite Eight. The senior scored 19 points, nine of which came from downtown.

    Buzz factor: Hancock's tournament got off to a hot start. He scored eight points in an 86-second span in the second-round win over Manhattan, and he used that performance to propel him into a terrific first half versus Saint Louis.

    Why he's here: The senior made plenty of big threes throughout the tournament for the Cardinals, and he ended the tournament 9-of-22 from three-point range, while averaging 18.7 points per game.

    Update by Joe Tansey.

10. Aaron Gordon, Arizona

11 of 20

    Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

    By the numbers: Aaron Gordon had one of the worst shooting nights of his career, going just 3-of-11 from the field, but he made up for it with a career-high 18 rebounds in Arizona's 64-63 loss to Wisconsin in Saturday's Elite Eight.

    Buzz factor: Gordon scored seven of his points in the final 2:34 of regulation and in overtime, twice tying the game in OT.

    Why he's here: The freshman phenom finished the NCAA tourney averaging 14.3 points and 9.5 rebounds per game. Despite the poor shooting performance against Wisconsin, he finished 25-of-41 from the field for the tournament.

    Update by Brian J. Pedersen

9. DeAndre Kane, Iowa State

12 of 20

    Bruce Bennett/Getty Images

    By the numbers: Kane could not carry the Cyclones back for a second consecutive game, as he only managed 16 points in the Sweet 16 loss to UConn. He was a brutal 6-of-18 from the field.

    Buzz factor: Kane was the reason why the Cyclones were playing Friday night, as he scored on a game-winning layup in the third round against North Carolina.

    Why he's here: The senior guard scored 38 points in the first two rounds, and despite a poor shooting night in New York City, he put home 16 in defeat.

    Update by Joe Tansey. 

8. Nick Johnson, Arizona

13 of 20

    Jeff Gross/Getty Images

    By the numbers: Nick Johnson struggled from the field for the second straight game, but still managed to score a team-high 16 points in Arizona's 64-63 overtime loss to Wisconsin in the Elite Eight on Saturday. Johnson shot 6-of-17 overall and added four rebounds and three assists.

    Buzz factor: Johnson was at the center of Arizona's final two possessions in overtime, and not in a good way either time. First, with four seconds left, he was called for an offensive foul while driving for a potential go-ahead shot. When the Wildcats got the ball back with 2.3 seconds left, he failed to get off a game-winning shot attempt in time.

    Why he's here: Johnson, Arizona's leading scorer, averaged 16.5 points and was 16-of-18 from the free-throw line during the NCAA tournament. 

    Update by Brian J. Pedersen

7. Scottie Wilbekin, Florida

14 of 20

    Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

    By the numbers: Scottie Wilbekin finally found a backcourt he couldn't beat, scoring just four points on 2-of-9 shooting in a loss to UConn. The Gators senior was also held to only one assist, though he did record a pair of steals.

    Buzz factor: After leading Florida in scoring for two of its first four NCAA tournament games, the Gators' floor leader couldn't solve the aggressive defense of Ryan Boatright, who prevented the dribble penetration that fuels Wilbekin's offense.

    Why he's here: The SEC Player of the Year has been the key to the Gators' half-court offense all season. Fittingly, his first bad game of the NCAA tournament is also the one in which the offense vanished in a painful Florida loss. Either way, there's no doubting Wilbekin's importance to the No. 1 overall seed.

    Update by Thad Novak

6. Adreian Payne, Michigan State

15 of 20

    Elsa/Getty Images

    By the numbers: Adreian Payne's stellar career at Michigan State came to an end on Sunday in a game where he scored 13 points and recorded nine rebounds. Three of the senior big man's four made field goals came from beyond the arc. 

    Buzz factor: Payne was the star in the blowout win over Delaware when he set the school tournament record for points in a game with 41.

    Why he's here: Payne made 26 of 27 free throws in the tournament. His 17-of-17 performance at the line last Thursday was a single-game best for any player in NCAA tourney history. The 6'10" senior averaged 20.5 points and 6.5 rebounds in his last four games. 

    Update by Joe Tansey

5. DeAndre Daniels, UConn

16 of 20

    Chris Steppig

    By the numbers: Although DeAndre Daniels' shot deserted him in the national championship game (eight points on 4-of-14 from the floor), the high-flying forward made his presence felt with six rebounds and two blocks.

    Buzz factor: Daniels provided occasional reminders (like this dunk) of how explosive he's been throughout the tournament, but he was mostly kept quiet by a barrage of Wildcats defenders.

    Why he's here: The hero of wins over Iowa State and Florida, Daniels grew from a complementary player into a star in a tournament in which he averaged 16 points a game, nearly three above his season mark.

    Update by Thad Novak

4. Frank Kaminsky, Wisconsin

17 of 20

    Eric Gay

    By the numbers: Frank Kaminsky couldn't match his production from the Elite Eight, scoring just eight points in Wisconsin's 74-73 loss to Kentucky in the Final Four. The 7'0" junior was just 4-of-7 from the field, unable to escape the Wildcats' constant double-teams in the post.

    Buzz factor: Though his scoring wasn't as flashy as last week against Arizona, when he was 11-of-20 and scored 28 points, he did have a nifty spin move for a basket early in the second half.

    Why he's here: Kaminsky finished the NCAA tournament averaging 16.4 points per game while making 34-of-62 field-goal attempts.

    Update by Brian J. Pedersen

3. Julius Randle, Kentucky

18 of 20

    Jamie Squire/Getty Images

    By the numbers: Julius Randle was the strongest player on the floor when he could get near the rim (on either end), but a tender ankle and a hardworking UConn defense combined to limit him to 10 points and six rebounds.

    Buzz factor: Randle commanded constant double-teams, and his four assists showed that he knew how to take advantage of them. Still, he never quite managed to string together the kind of flurry of positive plays Kentucky needed to close the gap against the Huskies.

    Why he's here: Randle has more than lived up to his SEC Freshman of the Year status in the postseason, notching double-doubles in Kentucky's first four games and overwhelming defenders with his strength and agility.

    Update by Thad Novak

2. Aaron Harrison, Kentucky

19 of 20

    Chris Steppig

    By the numbers: Aaron Harrison rarely managed to get free of UConn's dogged defense in the national championship game, scoring just seven points on 3-of-7 shooting, but he did chip in with four rebounds and a pair of steals.

    Buzz factor: Harrison never got the chance to replicate his back-to-back game-winning treys against Michigan and Wisconsin, because UConn wouldn't let the game get that close in the final seconds. He did, however, knock down one three-ball (his only one of the night) from almost the same spot from which he floored the Badgers.

    Why he's here: One bad night can't erase the astonishing finishes he pulled off in the Elite Eight and the national semifinals. He shot an even 50 percent (15-of-30) from beyond the arc during the Big Dance.

    Update by Thad Novak

1. Shabazz Napier, Connecticut

20 of 20

    David J. Phillip

    By the numbers: Shabazz Napier left no doubt about the Final Four's Most Outstanding Player after a championship game in which he piled up 22 points, six rebounds, three assists and three steals. 

    Buzz factor: Kentucky was a step behind Napier all night, as the senior drained eight of his 16 field-goal attempts (including four of his team's six three-pointers). He also contributed a pair of free throws to a perfect 10-of-10 night for the Huskies, a fitting end to a tourney they dominated in that department.

    Why he's here: Three years after understudying Final Four MOP Kemba Walker, Napier gets the individual and team trophies for himself. On average, his scoring and assists accounted for 38.5 percent of UConn's offense this season, a figure that climbed to 42 percent in the NCAA tournament.

    Update by Thad Novak