Vote for the 2014 NCAA Tournament Awards

Matt King@TheRealMattKingFeatured ColumnistApril 8, 2014

Connecticut guard Shabazz Napier (13) and center Amida Brimah (35) celebrate after beating Kentucky 60-54 at the NCAA Final Four tournament college basketball championship game Monday, April 7, 2014, in Arlington, Texas. (AP Photo/Eric Gay)
Eric Gay

The NCAA tournament is finally over with UConn's victory over Kentucky. It was a crazy ride from start to finish, with four overtime games on the first day of full tournament play and a No. 7 and 8 seed playing for the championship, the highest seed total in history.

Along the way there have been awesome plays and performances, great games and big upsets. Let's take a look back at the whole thing and pick out the best of the best to vote on.


Freshest Dunk

Andrew Wiggins may have had a short stay in his only NCAA tournament, but he at least made it a highlight-filled one. This alley-oop was probably his best.

UNC's J.P. Tokoto made a pretty spin move and then went straight into takeoff mode as he soared to the hoop for a nice jam.

Cleanthony Early showed that he was the real deal against Kentucky, and this dunk over the Wildcats highlighted his awesome performance in Wichita State's loss.

Aaron Gordon can jump a little bit. Here he takes a pass from Nick Johnson that looks like it's about to head out of bounds, grabs it with one hand and slams it home. An incredibly athletic move.

Marcus Lee got loose against Michigan, getting four different putback dunks. But none was more impressive than this one right on top of a Wolverine.

Kentucky's Alex Poythress is a dunker, plain and simple. It's his greatest skill. In the Wildcats' Final Four win over Wisconsin, Poythress takes the ball in the lane and simply just elevates over everyone else for the dunk and the foul.

James Young is known as a shooter, but plays like this have NBA scouts salivating over what else he can do. With Kentucky needing a boost against UConn, Young drove through the lane and threw down one of the dirtiest dunks of the tournament.











Biggest Upset

No. 14 Mercer over No. 3 Duke

Mercer shocked the world when it beat a Duke team that many had picked to make a Final Four. It was the second time in three years that Duke has lost to a No. 14 or higher seed but still just as unexpected as the first time.

No. 11 Dayton over No. 3 Syracuse

Syracuse was also a team that had championship aspirations, but it was foiled in the second round by an upset-minded Dayton team that would eventually make the Sweet 16 itself.

No. 10 Stanford over No. 2 Kansas

Kansas wasn't at full strength without Joel Embiid, but still nobody saw it losing in the second round to Stanford. The Cardinal's experience won out against the Jayhawks' youth.










Best Game

Stephen F. Austin 77, VCU 75 (OT)

No. 12 Stephen F. Austin was one of three No. 12 seeds to win in the round of 64, but it had to get past VCU first, a team that is always dangerous in the NCAA tournament. 

Trailing by 10 points with just over three minutes to go, Stephen F. Austin connected on a miraculous four-point play with 3.6 seconds left to send the game into overtime. From there, the two teams traded leads and crazy shots before SFA came out victorious

Kentucky 78, Wichita State 76

This was one of the best games I can ever remember seeing in the round of 32. It was two heavyweights battling it out: the undefeated Shockers against the team many thought might go undefeated coming into the season. After going back and forth all game, Wichita State had a good look at a game-winning three as time expired, but it did not go down.

Kentucky 74, Louisville 69

Down 13 points early in the game, Kentucky trailed for all but about two minutes in the contest. Battling the injury of one of their key players, Willie Cauley-Stein, and their second leading scorer fouling out, the Wildcats pressed hard at the end and got some big plays from Alex Poythress and Aaron Harrison down the stretch to come out on top.

Wisconsin 64, Arizona 63 (OT)

After five overtime games in the round of 64, this was the first game since then to head into extra time. This was a back-and-forth game, especially down the stretch. Neither team led by more than three for the final 12 minutes of regulation.

Overtime was tight as well, obviously. It looked like the game was over after Nick Johnson got called for an offensive foul with three seconds left, but a controversial inbounds play off Wisconsin gave the Wildcats one last chance. However, Johnson wasn't able to get a shot off in time as the Badgers advanced. 

Kentucky 75, Michigan 72

This was Kentucky's third straight nail-biter and it won all three. It had to overcome a 10-point deficit in the first half, but tied it going into halftime. Then it led most of the second half but found the game tied with 27 seconds to go. Then Aaron Harrison hit his fourth straight three with under three seconds to go to put the Wildcats up for good. Nik Stauskas got a look from half court as time expired, but it went wide.

Kentucky 74, Wisconsin 73

Picking the best Kentucky game in this tournament is a little bit like picking your favorite child. It set an NCAA record with four straight wins of five points or less and again it came down to some last-second heroics from Aaron Harrison.

As has been UK's style, it got down early and had to play itself back, at one point going on a 15-0 run early in the second half. But Wisconsin didn't give in and with the game tied, Traevon Jackson drew a foul on a three-pointer with 16 seconds to go and made two. But Harrison hit his deep three with 5.7 seconds left, and Jackson's game-winning attempt rimmed out for Wisconsin.










Biggest Winner of the Tournament

Shabazz Napier—21.2 PPG, 5.5 RPG 4.5 APG

The tournament's most outstanding player did a little bit of everything. He scored, he dished and, for a guard, collected an impressive amount of rebounds.

And when his team needed him the most, he delivered in spades. He had 22 points and went four of nine from three and hit multiple back-breaking shots against Kentucky.

Aaron Harrison—13.2 PPG, 15 of 30 from three, two game-winning shots

Whether or not he comes back for another year, Aaron Harrison has etched himself into Kentucky lore forever. His two game-winning shots against Michigan and Wisconsin were amazing, and he also hit another go-ahead three late in the Louisville game too, which will buy you plenty of love in Lexington.

Even though he didn't have the best championship game, Harrison's performance throughout the tournament was just awesome.

DeAndre Daniels—16 PPG, 7.2 RPG

The UConn junior was the perfect complement to Napier. It seemed like whenever Napier had a bit of a down game, Daniels was there to put the team on his shoulders. He was an awesome second option throughout the tournament and will be the undisputed star of that team next season.

Julius Randle—14.8 PPG, 9.8 RPG

Randle started the tournament with four straight double-doubles and just about averaged one for the whole thing. At times he was the most dominant player in the tournament. 

Adreian Payne—20.5 PPG, 6.5 RPG, 41-point performance in first round

While Michigan State did not make it to the Final Four, getting ousted by eventual champs UConn, Payne had a great send off to his college career. Most notably, he exploded for 41 points in MSU's first game against Delaware, the highest scoring game of the NCAA tournament.

ST LOUIS, MO - MARCH 23:  Julius Randle #30 of the Kentucky Wildcats dunks the ball against the Wichita State Shockers during the third round of the 2014 NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament at Scottrade Center on March 23, 2014 in St Louis, Missouri.  (Photo
Andy Lyons/Getty Images


Elaine Thompson









Funniest Moment

When Mercer beat Duke, it endeared itself even more to the rest of the world as Kevin Canevari launched into a spirited NaeNae dance as his teammates cheered him on.

Stanford is known for its enthusiastic band, but its cowbell player stole the show as he took that enthusiasm even further than we ever knew it could be taken with that instrument.

When Dayton beat Syracuse in one of the biggest upsets of the tournament, its president celebrated just as big as any student, eventually crowd surfing in the street filled with celebrating fans.

Phil Martelli's Eagles may have gotten knocked out in the round of 64 by UConn, but he definitely wins the award for cutest grandson.



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