Tuesday is the 40th anniversary (March 26, 1973) of Bill Walton scoring 44 points on 21-of-22 shooting in the national title game against Memphis State.
To celebrate, here’s a subjective list of the best performances in NCAA tournament national title game history.
First, a few disclaimers:
Rebounds did not become an official statistic until the 1950-51 season.
Assists were kept in 1950-51 and 1951-52. After that, they weren’t officially tracked on a permanent basis until the 1983-84 season.
Blocks and steals weren’t officially tracked for all players until the 1985-86 season.
1986-87 was the first season with the 3-point line.
1952 Clyde Lovellette – Kansas
Scored 33 points and grabbed 17 rebounds in a win over St. John’s. Lovellette was the first player to reach the 30-point mark in title game history.
1953 B.H. Born – Kansas
Scored 26 points, grabbed 15 rebounds and blocked 13 shots in a loss against Indiana. Unofficially, Born has the only triple-double in a national championship game.
1956 Bill Russell – San Francisco
Scored 26 points and grabbed 27 rebounds in a win over Iowa. Unofficially, Russell’s 27 rebounds are the most ever in a national championship game.
1969 Lew Alcindor – UCLA
Scored 37 points and grabbed 20 rebounds in a win over Purdue. Alcindor also made 15 of his 20 field goal attempts. Alcindor is one of five players to grab at least 20 rebounds in a national championship game.
1973 Bill Walton – UCLA
Scored 44 points, grabbed 13 rebounds and made 21 of his 22 field goals against Memphis State. The 44 points are the most a player has ever scored in the national championship game.
1978 Jack Givens – Kentucky
Scored 41 points and grabbed eight rebounds in a win over Duke. Givens is one of three players to score at least 40 points in a national championship game.
1983 Akeem Olajuwon – Houston
Scored 20 points, grabbed 18 rebounds and blocked seven shots in a loss to NC State. Unofficially, the seven blocked shots are tied for the second most in a national championship game.
1988 Danny Manning – Kansas
Scored 31 points and grabbed 18 rebounds in an upset win over Oklahoma. Manning also had five steals and is the only player in title game history with 30 points, 10 rebounds and five steals.
1995 Ed O’Bannon – UCLA
Scored 30 points and grabbed 17 rebounds in a win over Arkansas. The Wooden Award winner also had three assists and three steals to lead UCLA to its first title in 20 years. The Bruins haven’t won a national championship since.
2003 Carmelo Anthony – Syracuse
Scored 20 points, grabbed 10 rebounds and had seven assists in a win over Kansas. The freshman is the only player to ever have 20 points, 10 rebounds and five assists in a national championship game.
2004 Emeka Okafor – Connecticut
Scored 24 points and grabbed 15 rebounds in a win over Georgia Tech. Okafor is one of just four players to score 20 points and grab 15 rebounds in a national championship game since 1980.
2005 Sean May – North Carolina
Scored 26 points, grabbed 10 rebounds and made 10 of his 11 field goals against Illinois. May’s field goal percentage of 90.9 is the second highest in title game history with a minimum of 10 attempts. May also helped Roy Williams get his first national title as head coach.