NBA Power Rankings: March Madness special

Before starring for the Raptors, Kyle Lowry was an overlooked guard with the Villanova Wildcats. (Julie Jacobson/AP)

The NCAA Tournament is in full swing and while the NBA’s playoff races are of interest, let’s be honest: March belongs to the collegiate ranks as far as hoops are concerned.

With that in mind, we’re doing a special March Madness edition of the Power Rankings with interesting facts and stats on a player from each team.

Rank Team

Draymond Green: In his senior season at Michigan State, Green was named the Big Ten Player of the Year and joined Magic Johnson and Oscar Robertson as the only players to record two career triple-doubles in the NCAA Tournament. How did this guy fall to the second round again?

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Tim Duncan: Whenever he decides to hang them up, Duncan will go down in history as perhaps the greatest power forward to ever play the game. Lost in his many accomplishments will likely be a phenomenal college career at Wake Forest that included a National Player of the Year honour in his senior season.

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Kyle Lowry: The 2005-06 Villanova Wildcats are remembered for their four guard starting roster that included Randy Foye, Allan Ray, Mike Nardi and the overlooked Lowry. I don’t think anyone knows what Ray and Nardi are doing, and Foye is just an alright NBA player. As for Lowry? He’s doing pretty alright for himself these days.

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Kyrie Irving: While it’s true he did technically go to Duke, Irving didn’t really do much to help the Blue Devils as he only played 11 games for them because of a toe injury. Afterwards, he declared for the draft and was still taken first overall.

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Russell Westbrook: Who could’ve known that the backup to Darren Collison who averaged 12.7 points, 4.3 assists and 3.9 rebounds per game in his sophomore year before declaring for the draft would turn into the triple-double monster we see today?

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Al Horford: Horford’s enjoyed a very good NBA career, but when it’s all said and done — if he hasn’t won an NBA title at that point — he can always hang his head high knowing he is one of the few players to win back-to-back national championships. What an accomplishment.

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Hassan Whiteside: Whiteside probably made a mistake by declaring for the draft after just one season at Marshall, but one thing that was never in question was his shot-blocking instincts. Whiteside averaged 5.4 blocks per game in college, a skill that he’s only improved upon during his journey through the D-League and into the NBA.

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Blake Griffin: It’s understandable why Griffin was only known as a dunker in his first few seasons in the NBA, but the overall offensive game and rebounding that he’s become known for now shouldn’t surprise. In his sophomore season at Oklahoma he averaged 22.7 points and 14.4 rebounds per game on his way to a National Player of the Year award.

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Kemba Walker: Never forget 2011 when Walker almost single-handedly got UConn into the big dance with one of the greatest Big East Tournament performances ever followed by more clutch play throughout the tournament.

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Brad Stevens: The Celtics coach had a prolific time in the collegiate ranks when he was at the helm of the Butler Bulldogs. In all but his last season there, his team finished first in their conference and he even had a couple back-to-back national championship appearances. As his season and three-quarters with Boston has shown, the man can really coach.

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Chris Andersen: Andersen played his collegiate ball at Binn College. What school is that? A community college in eastern Texas. NBA players can come from anywhere, not just big power schools.

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Andre Drummond: Unlike what he’s done in the NBA, Drummond’s lone year at UConn was disappointing to say the least. The big man averaged just 10 points per game and looked wholly unready for the college game, let alone the NBA. Oh how wrong we all were.

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Doug McDermott: Want to know why they call him Dougie McBuckets? Look at these numbers: 22.9, 23.2, 26.7. These are his scoring averages in his last three seasons at Creighton. Enough said.

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Ty Lawson: While his NBA career has taken a bit of a dive, Lawson’s collegiate career with the Tar Heels is about as pristine as they come. In his third and final year at UNC, Lawson averaged 16.6 points and 6.6 assists per game on 53.2 per cent shooting, was named ACC Player of Year and also won a national championship. Not bad at all.

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Jason Terry: Terry has won at every level. Back-to-back state titles in high school, an NCAA championship with Arizona in 1997 and an NBA ring with the Mavericks in 2011.

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Trey Lyles: In his one and only season at Kentucky, the Canadian came off the bench to averages of 8.7 points and 5.2 rebounds per game. Not the most impressive numbers, but it did earn him a lottery selection, and he’s looked impressive in his rookie season with Utah thus far.

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Drew Gooden: Believe it or not, Gooden was considered one of the best players in the country coming out of college. In 2002 he was named the Big 12 Player of the Year at Kansas and was taken fourth overall by the Grizzlies.

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Interestingly enough, with the NBA going so international over the last decade and a bit, the Blazers are a rare club with a roster stocked full of former NCAA players.

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Chandler Parsons: Parsons was drafted in the second round, despite the fact he was named SEC Player of the Year and took his Florida Gators to the Elite Eight in his senior season. Very odd.

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O.J. Mayo: Once upon a time Mayo was anointed the next Great one. In his one season at USC that was looking true with his 20.7 points per game average. Then he came to the NBA and you know the rest.

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Kenneth Faried: You didn’t think Faried earned that “Manimal” nickname in the NBA did you? Faried’s 1,673 career rebounds places him 12th on the all-time college list. So yeah, he was a beast well before his NBA days.

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Carmelo Anthony: Anthony’s lone season with Syracuse is the stuff of legend. 22.2 points and 10 rebounds per game. Freshman of the year. Final Four Most Outstanding Player. National champion.

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Shabazz Napier: Napier has two NCAA championships to his name. One in 2011 when he was a freshman and was really just along for the Kemba Walker ride and again in 2014 as a senior when he was the leader of the team and showed the world what happens when you mess with the “hungry Huskies.”

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Willie Cauley-Stein: Cauley-Stein didn’t see much losing while at Kentucky, going 83-22 in his three seasons there, including a one-loss season last year. That winning culture he came from hasn’t done much to help the Kings, unfortunately.

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Anthony Davis: As impressive as Carmelo Anthony’s 2003 was, Davis in 2012 probably takes the cake for best college season ever: Averages of 14.4 points, 10.4 rebounds and 4.7 blocks per game, national freshman of the year, national player of the year, Final Four Most Outstanding Player, national champion.

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How impressive is Kentucky’s NBA prospect-pumping machine? The Suns have four Wildcats on their roster: Eric Bledsoe, Brandon Knight, Devin Booker and Archie Goodwin.

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Tyus Jones: Winning Final Four Most Outstanding Player, Jones was the best player on last year’s national champion Duke. He mostly let his very talented teammates do a lot of the heavy lifting and controlled Duke’s attack throughout the tourney, until the national championship game when he exploded for 23 points in the win.

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Markel Brown: While he hasn’t gotten much of a chance to show it off in the NBA, Brown was a prolific college dunker. Don’t believe me? Just watch this.

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Here’s an interesting story: Before Kobe Bryant decided to forgo college and head straight for the pros after high school, he was considering going to one of Duke, North Carolina, Villanova or Michigan. For what it’s worth, I think he was going to end up at ‘Nova. He is a Philly kid after all.

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With the way the 76ers have been going about their “process” they may as well just see if they can relegate themselves to the NCAA. Their roster’s young enough to do it for the most part, after all.

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