NCAA Tournament 2015: Real-Time Player Rankings Through Elite Eight

Bleacher Report College Basketball StaffFeatured ColumnistMarch 27, 2015

NCAA Tournament 2015: Real-Time Player Rankings Through Elite Eight

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    Harry How/Getty Images

    If you're wondering how the best college basketball teams in the country have made it this far, look no further than our player rankings.

    While basketball is certainly a team game, individual performances are huge at this time of year. The best of the best make their impact felt in March, and efforts from players on Kentucky, Duke, Michigan State and Wisconsin have pushed them into the Final Four.

    These rankings are based on players' stats, buzzworthiness and value to their teams. Victories are certainly a factor this time of year—where it's win or go home—and that often will mean the difference if two players put up similar performances.

    This list will be updated in real time, after each game is completed this weekend. Keep checking back to see where your favorite players rank.

    Players Recently Dropped Out of Rankings

    • Matt Stainbrook, Xavier 
    • Fred Van Vleet, Wichita State
    • Demetrius Jackson, Notre Dame
    • T.J. McConnell, Arizona
    • Terry Rozier, Louisville 

10. Przemek Karnowski, Gonzaga

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    Tom Pennington/Getty Images

    By the numbers

    Przemek Karnowski failed to follow up his stellar showing against UCLA with a strong performance in the South Region final against Duke. The Polish big man, who was mired in foul trouble during the first half, finished with just four points and five rebounds on Sunday. 

    Buzz factor

    Karnowski caught plenty of attention for his two impressive assists in the second half on Friday. We all knew the big man was a force on the boards, but he displayed his no-look passing ability twice on the right block. Both of the dimes resulted in baskets by Domantas Sabonis. Unfortunately, he failed to display such skills against Duke. 

    Why he's here

    Karnowski played a massive role in getting Gonzaga to the Elite Eight, as he was an absolute force in the paint against UCLA. Despite his lack of production against Duke, Karnowski still had one of the best single-game performances of the Big Dance against UCLA. 

    Updated by Joe Tansey. 

9. Wayne Blackshear, Louisville

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    Ted S. Warren/Associated Press

    By the Numbers

    Wayne Blackshear showed up in a major way during Louisville's overtime loss to Michigan State. The senior dropped a game-high 28 points and made all 12 of his foul shots at the Carrier Dome. 

    Buzz Factor

    Blackshear is famous for not showing up in big games, but he delivered in his final game as a Cardinal. His breakout performance came a round after Terry Rozier surprised us all with a double-double against N.C. State. 

    Why He's Here

    He earned plenty of playing time throughout the 76-70 loss due to his accuracy from the field. Blackshear was 6-of-13 with four three-pointers, and he snagged three rebounds in 39 minutes of action. 

    Updated by Joe Tansey. 

8. Karl-Anthony Towns, Kentucky

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    Andy Lyons/Getty Images

    By the Numbers

    While his lack of contribution in the Sweet 16 had no bearing on the outcome, as Kentucky won by 39 over West Virginia, if Karl-Anthony Towns didn't have the game of his life in the Elite Eight, the Wildcats wouldn't be unbeaten anymore. The 6'11" freshman scored a career-high 25 points on 10-of-13 shooting while also posting five rebounds, four assists, two steals and a block in the 68-66 victory.

    Buzz Factor

    Towns' last basket tied the game at 66 with 1:14 left, but a few possessions earlier, he came up huge with a three-point play in which he lost control of the ball on the way up and then punched it into the basket as he was fouled.

    Why He's Here

    Towns' performances in the NCAA tournament have been hot and cold, with games of 25 and 21 points bookending a combined nine points in wins over West Virginia and Cincinnati. For the tourney, he's made 20-of-32 field goals.

    Updated by Brian J. Pedersen

7. Jerian Grant, Notre Dame

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    Andy Lyons/Getty Images

    By the Numbers

    Jerian Grant didn't have the best weekend when it came to overall shooting, making just 7-of-22 shots. But the senior guard still managed to impact both of Notre Dame's games thanks to a combined 17 assists (including 11 in the Sweet 16 win over Wichita State) and going 8-of-9 from the foul line. Grant's final college game saw him score 15 points and dish out six assists in Saturday's Elite Eight loss to Notre Dame.

    Buzz Factor

    Grant scored Notre Dame's last basket of the season, and it looked to be a huge one, draining a deep three-pointer as the shot-clock was expiring for a 66-64 lead with 2:36 left. He tried two more shots after that, but one was blocked (and led to Kentucky scoring the game-winning basket), and his three at the buzzer from the corner didn't hit.

    Why He's Here

    Grant averaged 14.3 points, 3.5 rebounds, 6.8 assists and 1.5 steals in the NCAA tournament, but he was just 19-of-46 from the field and 3-of-14 from three-point range.

    Updated by Brian J. Pedersen

6. Travis Trice, Michigan State

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    Gerald Herbert/Associated Press

    By the Numbers

    Two days after leading all scorers with 24 points in the win over Oklahoma, Travis Trice led Michigan State with 17 in the victory over Louisville. In the Elite Eight triumph, Trice also dished out five assists and pulled down four rebounds. 

    Buzz Factor

    Trice and the Spartans have surprised everyone over the last two weeks, as they have made a terrific run to the Final Four. Many counted Michigan State out midway through the Big Ten season, but it rallied and has delivered some big results in March. 

    Why He's Here

    Trice scored nearly 40 percent of Michigan State's points in Syracuse on Friday night. He didn't have to score as much against Louisville, but he did feature in the starring role again as the Spartans booked their trip to Indianapolis. 

    Updated by Joe Tansey

5. Montrezl Harrell, Louisville

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    Maddie Meyer/Getty Images

    By the Numbers

    Montrezl Harrell scored 40 combined points in Louisville's two games at the Carrier Dome this weekend. The big man also pulled down 16 rebounds, and he was one board away from a double-double in the loss to Michigan State. 

    Buzz Factor

    Harrell has been a beast in the paint all season for the Cardinals. Many believe that once Louisville's tournament run is over, he will head to the NBA.

    Why He's Here

    Not only did Harrell score in double digits in both of his games in Syracuse, but he also provided an unlikely contribution in the assist column. After earning one four-assist game in three years at Louisville, Harrell earned four in each of the Cardinals' contests before they were eliminated, per College Basketball Talk's Rob Dauster. 

    Updated by Joe Tansey.

4. Zach Auguste, Notre Dame

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    Gregory Shamus/Getty Images

    By the numbers

    As the lone big man for Notre Dame going up against Kentucky's endless supply, Zach Auguste stood as tall as any with a monster performance in the paint. The 6'10" junior had his third stellar performance of the NCAA tournament with 20 points and nine rebounds in the Fighting Irish's 68-66 loss to the Wildcats in Saturday's Midwest Region final.

    Buzz factor

    Auguste was 10-of-13 from the field, with most of his points coming on hard drives to the basket or dunks on putbacks. Six of his nine rebounds were of the offensive variety.

    Why he's here

    Auguste made a name for himself in this tournament, averaging 16.8 points and 8.3 rebounds while shooting 70 percent (28-of-40) from the field.

    Updated by Brian J. Pedersen

3. Justise Winslow, Duke

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    Tom Pennington/Getty Images

    By the Numbers

    Justise Winslow turned in one of his best performances in a Duke uniform on Friday night, as he delivered 21 points and pulled down 10 rebounds. His numbers were not as high in the win over Gonzaga, but he still finished with 16 points.

    Buzz Factor

    Despite his inability to be a major contributor on offense during his second game in Houston, Winslow still earned rave reviews for his defense against Gonzaga, He also delivered the dagger late in the second half, with a three-pointer that extended the Blue Devils' lead to nine. 

    Why He's Here

    Winslow became the third Duke freshman to record over 20 points and 10 rebounds in a NCAA tournament contest on Friday, per ESPN Stats & Info. He followed that performance up with 16 points, five rebounds, an assist, a steal and a block in his team's Elite Eight triumph. 

    Updated by Joe Tansey

2. Frank Kaminsky, Wisconsin

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    Mark J. Terrill/Associated Press

    By the numbers

    On a team loaded with offensive weapons, Frank Kaminsky was almost a one-man wrecking crew in the paint in leading Wisconsin to its second straight Final Four. The 7'0” senior had 29 points on 9-of-20 shooting in the Badgers' 85-78 win Saturday over Arizona in the West Region final in Los Angeles, scoring their first five points of the game and eight of 11 to start the second half.

    Buzz factor

    Though his defense left something to be desired at times, Kaminsky was able to draw a rather notable charge during the first half by flopping wildly after getting bumped by Arizona's Kaleb Tarczewski. Even Wisconsin's Twitter account understood how it looked, noting that Kaminsky has been "hanging out in Hollywood."

    Why he's here

    Though he made a three-pointer against Arizona, Kaminsky was at his best when maneuvering down low and drawing fouls. He went to the line 12 times on Saturday, making 10 shots. And in the NCAA tournament he has made 26 of 30 free throws.

    Updated by Brian J. Pedersen

1. Sam Dekker, Wisconsin

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    Harry How/Getty Images

    By the Numbers

    Sam Dekker decided the second weekend of the NCAA tournament was the time to have his coming-out party, setting his career-high in scoring in both games to lead Wisconsin back to the Final Four. After scoring 23 in Thursday's Sweet 16 win over North Carolina, the 6'9" junior had 27 to help the Badgers to an 85-78 win over Arizona.

    Buzz Factor

    A 31.6 percent three-point shooter coming in, Dekker drained five of six long balls against Arizona, hitting all five in the second half. That included a pair of deep daggers in the final minutes, the last coming with 17.7 seconds left as the shot clock was expiring to give Wisconsin an eight-point lead.

    Why He's Here

    Through four NCAA tourney games, Dekker is averaging 21.8 points per game while shooting 60.3 percent from the field. That includes making 13-of-27 from three-point range.

    Updated by Brian J. Pedersen