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Andy Wittry | NCAA.com | April 2, 2021

The 10 most outstanding players in the NCAA tournament since 2000, ranked

UCLA vs. Michigan: Extended highlights from 2021 NCAA tournament

Just four teams remain in the 2021 NCAA tournament and one player from one of them will ultimately be named the Final Four's Most Outstanding Player, joining a group that ranges from unlikely heroes to All-Americans who went on to be NBA stars.

In the latest March Madness 365 podcast, Andy Katz ranked his top 10 Final Four Most Outstanding Players since 2000.

You can listen to the latest #MM365 podcast below.

Here are Katz's rankings:

10. Sean May, North Carolina

"Great team, great recruiting class," Katz said, "originally it was brought in by Matt Doherty and Roy Williams."

May started 36 of 37 games as a junior, averaging 17.5 points and 10.7 rebounds per game as a force inside. He had 22 points and seven rebounds against Michigan State in the Final Four, followed by a 26-point, 10-rebound double-double against Illinois in the national championship game.

9. Emeka Okafor, UConn

"He was the ultimate rim-protector," Katz said. "This was a dominant rebounding and shot-blocking team, led by Okafor." Okafor put up a 24-point, 15-rebound double-double in the 2004 national championship game against Georgia Tech and he finished with 68 rebounds in six NCAA tournament games that season.

8. Joakim Noah, Florida

"They called themselves the '04s' because they came in in '04," Katz said. "That was the first of back-to-back championships for the University of Florida, the last time that a school won back-to-back championships."

Noah scored in double figures in each of Florida's games in the 2006 NCAA tournament, capped by a 16-point, nine-rebound, six-block, three-assist performance against UCLA in the title game.

7. Kemba Walker, UConn

"What a great run he had through the Big East tournament and then winning the national championship over Butler," Katz said. In UConn's six NCAA tournament wins, Walker scored, in order, 18, 33, 36, 20, 18 and 16 points, respectively, as he carried the Huskies to 11 tournament wins in a row to end the season.

6. Anthony Davis, Kentucky

"This was a freshman-laden team for Kentucky, led by Davis," Katz said. "He wasn't the most productive player scoring-wise but he affected the game in so many different ways for the Wildcats, winning that national championship in 2012."

Davis' worst rebounding performance in the NCAA tournament was nine boards in Kentucky's opener against No. 16 seed Western Kentucky. He had 65 rebounds in his next five games, including three double-doubles.

5. Mario Chalmers, Kansas

"Chalmers hit the shot heard 'round the state of Kansas," Katz said, "put the game into overtime at the buzzer and then Kansas won in overtime."

4. Shane Battier, Duke

Battier averaged 20 points per game as as senior, in addition to more than seven boards, two steals and two blocks. He scored at least 20 points in each of Duke's first five NCAA tournament games that season, including 27 against Missouri, and he capped off the Blue Devils' run with 18 points, 11 rebounds and six assists in the national championship against Arizona.

3. Mateen Cleaves, Michigan State

Michigan State is the last Big Ten team to win a national championship and Cleaves played an integral role in bringing a title to East Lansing. He scored 85 points in the 2000 NCAA tournament, including 18 against Florida in the championship.

2. Juan Dixon, Maryland

Dixon averaged 20 points per game as a senior and he had a massive NCAA tournament to end his college career, with 155 points in six tournament games, including 33 against Kansas in the Final Four.

1. Carmelo Anthony, Syracuse

"Carmelo Anthony, 2003, one year, one title for Jim Boeheim," Katz said. 

Anthony averaged 22 points and 10 rebounds per game in his only year of college. He scored 121 points in the NCAA tournament, including 33 against Texas in the Final Four.

 
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