Who Has the Most Points in a March Madness Game?

March Madness is where legends are born. Many of the NBA’s best players dominated college basketball’s biggest stage. Conversely, several players who never made it to NBA glory live on in March Madness memories due to their performances in the tournament.

Austin Carr had the best of both worlds. Despite being from an era before three-pointers, he scored the most points in March Madness history.

Austin Carr’s one shining moment

March Madness, unlike any other sporting, is built on the backs of special moments. These can involve anything from a ridiculous performance to a single clutch play, or a player overcoming off-court hurdles to reach on-court success. The very associated with March Madness, “One Shining Moment” by David Barrett, is filled with lyrics about this.

With the vastness of the pool and the win-or-go-home nature of March Madness, it can produce stakes that other sports can’t recreate. A behemoth of the regular season can be humbled in the early rounds; a Cinderella story can emerge via a smaller school. Players receive national exposure and a chance to prove themselves to the world. 

This is perhaps what makes these moments in the NCAA tournament so unique in the sports realm. While many memorable moments get lost in the shuffle, some, like Carr’s historic performances, live on decades.

Carr’s March Madness moment

No player has ever shown up on the big stage of March Madness as Carr. The Notre Dame athlete doesn’t just have one memorable appearance that fans reflect on with fondness; he has many performances. Of the top-10 highest-scoring individual performances in March Madness history, Carr has four, reports Business Insider.

When it came to college scoring, Carr was in a league of his own. Averaging 22 points per game as a Fighting Irish freshman, his sophomore and junior seasons saw this skyrocket to 38 per game. He was a monster on the court and only got scarier when March Madness stakes joined to the mix.

Not only did Carr score 47 points against Houston in the regional third-place game in 1971, but he also had a pair of 52-point performances against Kentucky in 1970 and Texas Christian in 1971. Carr’s ability to put the ball in the basket was a nightmare for opposing defenses. While all of these shows were impressive, they still weren’t the best of his career. 

What was Austin Carr’s best performance?

None shines brighter than Carr’s 61-point performance against Ohio during the 1970 tournament. He dominated the matchup from the start, scoring 25 of Notre Dame’s first 32 points — 37 points in the first half alone. Ohio could not stop Carr as he drove to the basket. What was a close game at halftime, 54-41, turned into a blowout as he continued his barrage.

Carr scored his 61st and final point to put the Fighting Irish up 108-78, capping off his legendary performance and sending Ohio packing. It remains a celebrated moment. While it is a relic of a bygone era, it proved to be a coming-out party for Carr, who had a successful NBA career before finding his current job as a broadcaster for the Cleveland Cavaliers

Carr may not be a legendary player like Michael Jordan or Kareem Abdul-Jabbar. But during his college years, he was more dominant than either of those athletes. Performances like these are increasingly rare, meaning Carr will likely hold this record for years to come.

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