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Mike Lopresti | April 1, 2022

21 memorable Most Outstanding Players in the men's Final Four

The top 10 storylines in New Orleans for this Final Four, ranked by Andy Katz

NEW ORLEANS — And the Most Outstanding Player of the 2022 Final For will be...

Well, that’s where it can get interesting. The best bet is usually to just pick the high scorer for the champion. But not always. Matter of fact, once upon a time this award could get really weird. So before the next trophy presentation Monday night, here are 21 memorable MOPs.

B.H. Born, Kansas, 1953

Sports News Service/Indiana University Indiana's Don Schlundt (34) and Kansas center B.H. Born (25) battle for a rebound during the national championship game in Kansas City. Indiana's Don Schlundt (34) and Kansas center B.H. Born (25) battle for a rebound during the national championship game in Kansas City.

True, the Jayhawks lost the title game to Indiana 69-68, but what more could he do? Born had the first "unofficial" recorded triple-double in a Final Four, and it was a healthy one — 26 points, 15 rebounds and 13 blocks. The year before when Kansas won the title, he was a reserve and didn’t score a point.

Hal Lear, Temple, 1956

Temple didn’t even get to the championship game, taking third by winning the consolation contest, which was included in the Final Four until 1982. But Lear scored 32 and 48 points, so how could anyone quibble? Maybe the center from San Francisco could. The Dons finished the first perfect season in NCAA tournament history and Bill Russell scored 26 points with 27 rebounds in the championship game. But winning the title didn’t guarantee any individual award in those times. This began a streak where someone from a non-championship team would be named MOP eight of 11 years.

BLUE BLOODS: The history of blue bloods in men's college basketball, explained

Wilt Chamberlain, Kansas, 1957

The Jayhawks lost in three overtimes to North Carolina, but Chamberlain scored 23 points, after getting 32 in the semifinals. It was a harbinger of the NBA Hall of Fame career to come.

Wilt Chamberlain - C - Kansas

Elgin Baylor, Seattle, 1958

See Chamberlain. Another future NBA legend had another great performance in a losing effort, with 25 points and 19 rebounds in the title game defeat by Kentucky. It’s a pretty good bet that Baylor will be the first and last MOP from Seattle University, whose most recent NCAA Tournament win was 1964.

Elgin Baylor - F - Seattle

Jerry West, West Virginia, 1959

Notice a trend? This makes three second place-future NBA superstar-MOPs in a row.

Jerry West - G - West Virginia

Jerry Lucas, Ohio State, 1960

Finally, a champion. And since he led the Buckeyes to the title by scoring 19 and 16 points, that seemed reasonable. Lucas was a terrific player who would be MOP the next year as well. Except . . . only five Final Four triple-doubles are listed in the NCAA record book and two came in 1960, by the same player. Cincinnati’s Oscar Robertson went for 18 points, 10 rebound and 10 assists in the semifinal loss to California, then 32-14-11 in the third-place victory over NYU. That’s a pretty outstanding case to be the most outstanding player.

Jerry Lucas - F - Ohio State

Art Heyman, Duke, 1963

Duke finished third, but Heyman averaged more than 25 points a game. The all-tournament team was the strange part: It included Heyman, three players from Cincinnati, and only one from Loyola Chicago. Oh yeah, the Ramblers won the championship.

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Bill Bradley, Princeton, 1965

How in the world could UCLA’s Gail Goodrich score 42 points to lead the Bruins to victory in the national championship game and not be MOP? Sorry, when it came to stat lines, the title game was only the epilogue. Bradley rolled for 58 points in the third-place win over Wichita State, and no one has approached that number before or since at a Final Four. Years later, while most participants said they loathed playing in the third-place game, Bradley said he didn’t mind so much. No wonder. He also had 29 in the semis, so his 87 points in two games are still comfortably the most ever in a Final Four. It’s not clear how many U.S. Senate votes that won him when he went into politics.

Bill Bradley - F - Princeton

Jerry Chambers, Utah, 1966

Here’s the real oddity. Utah didn’t win the title, Utah didn’t even win the consolation game. Utah finished fourth, but Chambers scored 38 and 32 points in the two defeats and that was good enough. With the consolation game no more, he will forever be the only MOP from a fourth-place team.

THE BRACKET: Check out this year's bracket and how we got here

Lew Alcindor, UCLA 1967-69

Easy calls each and every year for the only MOP three-peater in history. Didn’t UCLA stand for Unstoppable Center Lew Alcindor? Had freshmen been eligible back then, it could well have been four in a row for the future Kareem Abdul-Jabbar.

Lew Alcindor - C - UCLA

Bill Walton, UCLA, 1973

He took 22 shots in the championship game against Memphis. He missed one. The 44 points are still a title game record, so this was a no-doubter. Walton also won in 1972 and, nearly a half-century later, is the last MOP repeater.

Bill Walton - C - UCLA

Kent Benson, Indiana, 1976

Benson’s dominance inside gave him an edge over teammate Scott May, who scored 26 points in the championship game for the unbeaten Hoosiers. Remember that point total for future reference.

Kent Benson - C - Indiana

James Worthy, North Carolina, 1982

Everyone remembers the Tar Heels won the championship game against Georgetown on Michael Jordan’s shot. But the big reason North Carolina was that close was because of Worthy’s 28 points. With a great Lakers career ahead in the company of Magic Johnson and Abdul-Jabbar, just as well Worthy got used to not being the biggest name on the marquee.

James Worthy - F - UNC

WOW: Why the 2022 Final Four is historic 

Akeem Olajuwon, Houston, 1983

By then, the unwritten rule was clear. Your team had better win the title if you wanted to be MOP. But this was the exception to the rule. Olajuwon averaged 20.5 points and 20 rebounds in two games, and nobody was going to say no to that. Even if there is still one question that always screams out when the Lorenzo Charles replays come around again — his famous airball rebound and championship dunk at the buzzer for North Carolina State to stun Houston. Where’s Olajuwon? He remains the only MOP from a non-championship team in the past 49 tournaments.

Hakeem Olajuwon - C - Houston

Pervis Ellison, Louisville, 1986

His 25 points in the championship game win over Duke clinched the award, but he was already the frontrunner on nickname alone. Never-Nervous Pervis was the first freshman MOP in 42 years.

Pervis Ellison - C - Louisville

Sean May, North Carolina, 2005

Remember those 26 Scott May points for Indiana in the 1976 championship game? Like father, like son, Sean had 26 points for the Tar Heels in their championship game win over Illinois. But he was named MOP. Take that, dad.

Sean May - C - North Carolina

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Kemba Walker, Connecticut, 2011

He might still be the gold standard for carrying a team through March. The Huskies won five games in five days to take the Big East tournament, then six more to be national champions. Eleven elimination games, and Walker led his team in scoring in all 11, averaging just under 25 points. Next time a team complains about how the league tournament sapped it for the NCAA, think of the Walker Run.

Kemba Walker: 2011 March Madness highlights for UConn

Anthony Davis, Kentucky, 2012

He scored six points in the championship game, and missed nine of 10 shots. By far the worst scoring production of any MOP. But the 16 rebounds, five assists and six blocks gave him a very large handprint on the title.

Watch all 29 Anthony Davis blocks from the 2012 NCAA tournament

Luke Hancock, Louisville, 2013 and Donte DiVincenzo, Villanova, 2018

They had something in common, besides going home with the MOP award. Both came off the bench as reserves to do it.

Leaders of the Game: Louisville's Luke Hancock
Relive Donte DiVincenzo's record-breaking performance

UNDER THE RADAR: The big story that no one's talking about 

Ryan Arcidiacono, Villanova, 2016

It was fine that he won it. The odd part was the all-tournament team. Three players from Villanova, none of them named Kris Jenkins, who you might recall buried the championship three-pointer at the buzzer and scored 18 and 14 points in the Final Four.

Championship Countdown: Craig Sager interviews Ryan Arcidiacono

Who’ll be next on Monday night? Look to the winning team. One thing we know for sure. No candidate will be scoring 58 points in the third-place game.

2022 March Madness schedule, livestream links

Click or tap on any of the games below to be taken directly to that live stream or box score.

GAMES TIME TV CITY Venue
National Championship — Monday, April 4
No. 1 Kansas 72, No. 8 North Carolina 69 9:20 p.m. TBS New Orleans, Louisiana Caesars Superdome
RESULTS TIME NETWORK CITY SITE
First Four — Tuesday, March 15
No. 16 Texas Southern 76, No. 16 Texas A&M-Corpus Christi 67 6:40 p.m. truTV Dayton, Ohio UD Arena
No. 12 Indiana 66, No. 12 Wyoming 58 9:10 p.m. truTV Dayton, Ohio UD Arena
First Four — Wednesday, March 16
No. 16 Wright State 93, No. 16 Bryant 82 6:40 p.m. truTV Dayton, Ohio UD Arena
No. 11 Notre Dame 89, No. 11 Rutgers 87 9:10 p.m. truTV Dayton, Ohio UD Arena
First Round — Thursday, March 17
No. 11 Michigan 75, No. 6 Colorado State 63 12:15 p.m. CBS Indianapolis, Indiana Gainbridge Fieldhouse
No. 4 Providence 66, No. 13 South Dakota State 57 12:40 p.m. truTV Buffalo, New York KeyBank Center
No. 9 Memphis 64, No. 8 Boise State 53 1:45 p.m. TNT Portland, Oregon Moda Center
No. 1 Baylor 85, No. 16 Norfolk State 49 2 p.m. TBS Fort Worth, Texas Dickies Arena
No. 3 Tennessee 88, No. 14 Longwood 56 2:45 p.m. CBS Indianapolis, Indiana Gainbridge Fieldhouse
No. 12 Richmond 67,  No. 5 Iowa 63 3:10 p.m. truTV Buffalo, New York KeyBank Center
No. 1 Gonzaga 93, No. 16 Georgia State 72 4:15 p.m. TNT Portland, Oregon Moda Center
No. 8 North Carolina 95, No. 9 Marquette 63 4:30 p.m. TBS Fort Worth, Texas Dickies Arena
No. 12 New Mexico State 70, No. 5 UConn 63 6:50 p.m. TNT Buffalo, New York KeyBank Center
No. 15 Saint Peter's 85, No. 2 Kentucky 79 (OT) 7:10 p.m. CBS Indianapolis, Indiana Gainbridge Fieldhouse
No. 5 Saint Mary's (CA) 82, No. 12 Indiana 53 7:20 p.m. TBS Portland, Oregon Moda Center
No. 9 Creighton 72, No. 8 San Diego State 69 (OT) 7:27 p.m. truTV Fort Worth, Texas Dickies Arena
No. 4 Arkansas 75, No. 13 Vermont 71 9:20 p.m. TNT Buffalo, New York KeyBank Center
No. 7 Murray State 92, No. 10 San Francisco 87 (OT) 9:40 p.m. CBS Indianapolis, Indiana Gainbridge Fieldhouse
No. 4 UCLA 57, No. 13 Akron 53 9:50 p.m. TBS Portland, Oregon Moda Center
No. 1 Kansas 83, No. 16 Texas Southern 56 9:57 p.m. truTV Fort Worth, Texas Dickies Arena
First Round — Friday, March 18
No. 7 Ohio State 54, No. 10 Loyola Chicago 41  12:15 p.m. CBS Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania PPG Paints Arena
No. 2 Auburn 80, No. 15 Jacksonville State 61 12:40 p.m. truTV Greenville, South Carolina Bon Secours Wellness Arena
No. 3 Texas Tech 97, No. 14 Montana State 62 1:45 p.m. TNT San Diego, California Viejas Arena
No. 3 Purdue 78, No. 14 Yale 56 2 p.m. TBS Milwaukee, Wisconsin Fiserv Forum
No. 2 Villanova 80, No. 15 Delaware 60 2:45 p.m. CBS Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania PPG Paints Arena
No. 10 Miami (Fla.) 68, No. 7 No. 7 Southern California 66 3:10 p.m. truTV Greenville, South Carolina Bon Secours Wellness Arena
No. 11 Notre Dame 78, No. 6 Alabama 64 4:15 p.m. TNT San Diego, California Viejas Arena
No. 6 Texas 81, No. 11 Virginia Tech 73 4:30 p.m. TBS Milwaukee, Wisconsin Fiserv Forum
No. 4 Illinois 54, No. 13 Chattanooga 53 6:50 p.m. TNT Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania PPG Paints Arena
No. 2 Duke 78, Cal State Fullerton 61 7:10 p.m. CBS Greenville, South Carolina Bon Secours Wellness Arena
No. 11 Iowa State 59, No. 6 LSU 54 7:20 p.m. TBS Milwaukee, Wisconsin Fiserv Forum
No. 1 Arizona 87, No. 16 Wright State 70 7:27 p.m. truTV San Diego, California Viejas Arena
No. 5 Houston 82, No. 12 UAB 68 9:20 p.m. TNT Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania PPG Paints Arena
No. 7 Michigan State 74, No. 10 Davidson 73 9:40 p.m. CBS Greenville, South Carolina Bon Secours Wellness Arena
No. 3 Wisconsin 67, No. 14 Colgate 60 9:50 p.m. TBS Milwaukee, Wisconsin Fiserv Forum
No. 9 TCU 69, No. 8 Seton Hall 42 9:57 p.m. truTV San Diego, California Viejas Arena
Second Round — Saturday, March 19
No. 8 North Carolina 93, No. 1 Baylor 86 (OT) 12:10 p.m. CBS Fort Worth, Texas Dickies Arena
No. 1 Kansas 79, No. 9 Creighton 72 2:40 p.m. CBS Fort Worth, Texas Dickies Arena
No. 11 Michigan 76, No. 3 Tennessee 68 5:15 p.m. CBS Indianapolis, Indiana Gainbridge Fieldhouse
No. 4 Providence 79, No. 12 Richmond 51 6:10 p.m. TNT Buffalo, New York KeyBank Center
No. 4 UCLA 72, No. 5 Saint Mary's 56 7:10 p.m. TBS Portland, Oregon Moda Center
No. 15 Saint Peter's 70, No. 7 Murray State 60 7:45 p.m. CBS Indianapolis, Indiana Gainbridge Fieldhouse
No. 4 Arkansas 53, No. 12 New Mexico State 48 8:40 p.m. TNT Buffalo, New York KeyBank Center
No. 1 Gonzaga 82, No. 9 Memphis 78 9:40 p.m. TBS Portland, Oregon Moda Center
Second Round — Sunday, March 20
No. 5 Houston 68, No. 4 Illinois 53 12:10 p.m. CBS Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania PPG Paints Arena
No. 2 Villanova 71, No. 7 Ohio State 61 2:40 p.m. CBS Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania PPG Paints Arena
No. 2 Duke 85, No. 7 Michigan State 76 5:15 p.m. CBS Greenville, South Carolina Bon Secours Wellness Arena
No. 11 Iowa State 54, No. 3 Wisconsin 49 6:10 p.m. TNT Milwaukee, Wisconsin Fiserv Forum
No. 3 Texas Tech 59, No. 11 Notre Dame 53 7:10 p.m. TBS San Diego, California Viejas Arena
No. 10 Miami (Fla.) 79, No. 2 Auburn 61 7:45 p.m. truTV Greenville, South Carolina Bon Secours Wellness Arena
No. 3 Purdue 81, No. 6 Texas 71 8:40 p.m. TNT Milwaukee, Wisconsin Fiserv Forum
No. 1 Arizona 85, No. 9 TCU 80 (OT) 9:40 p.m. TBS San Diego, California Viejas Arena
Sweet 16 — Thursday, March 24
No. 4 Arkansas 74, No. 1 Gonzaga 68 7:09 p.m. CBS San Francisco, California Chase Center
No. 2 Villanova 63, No. 11 Michigan 55 7:29 p.m. TBS San Antonio, Texas AT&T Center
No. 2 Duke 78, No. 3 Texas Tech 73 9:39 p.m. CBS San Francisco, California Chase Center
No. 5 Houston 72, No. 1 Arizona 60 9:59 p.m. TBS San Antonio, Texas AT&T Center
Sweet 16 — Friday, March 25
No. 15 Saint Peter's 67, No. 3 Purdue 64 7:09 p.m. CBS Philadelphia, Pennsylvania Wells Fargo Center
No. 1 Kansas 66, No. 4 Providence 61 7:29 p.m. TBS Chicago, Illinois United Center
No. 8 North Carolina 73, No. 4 UCLA 66 9:39 p.m. CBS Philadelphia, Pennsylvania Wells Fargo Center
No. 10 Miami (Fla.) 70, No. 11 Iowa State 56 9:59 p.m. TBS Chicago, Illinois United Center
Elite Eight —  Saturday, March 26
No. 2 Villanova 50, No. 5 Houston 44 6:09 p.m. TBS San Antonio, Texas AT&T Center
No. 2 Duke 78, No. 4 Arkansas 69 8:49 p.m. TBS San Francisco, California Chase Center
Elite Eight — Sunday, March 27
No. 1 Kansas 76, No. 10 Miami (Fla.) 50 2:20 p.m. CBS Chicago, Illinois United Center
No. 8 North Carolina 69, No. 15 Saint Peter's 49 5:05 p.m. CBS Philadelphia, Pennsylvania Wells Fargo Center
Final Four — Saturday, April 2
No. 1 Kansas 81, No. 2 Villanova 65 6:09 p.m. TBS New Orleans, Louisiana Caesars Superdome
No. 8 North Carolina 81, No. 2 Duke 77 8:49 p.m. TBS New Orleans, Louisiana Caesars Superdome

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