Highest-scoring games in men's March Madness history (2024)

  • Alex Kennedy

Mar 20, 2024, 01:23 AM

With March Madness firing up, it's the perfect time to revisit the highest-scoring games in NCAA tournament history.

The highest-scoring game occurred in 1990, with Loyola Marymount and Michigan combining for a whopping 264 points. LMU's 149 points are still a March Madness record, and the circ*mstances surrounding that game make its Cinderella run even more astounding.

Let's take a look at the five highest scoring March Madness games of all time.

264 points: LMU (149) vs. Michigan (115), 1990

During the second round of the 1990 NCAA tournament, No. 11 Loyola Marymount defeated No. 3 Michigan 149-115. The Wolverines were the defending champions and had six future NBA players on their roster. Meanwhile, LMU had just experienced a horrible tragedy two weeks earlier. During the conference tournament, star Hank Gathers collapsed on the court and died due to a heart condition. LMU's players were still grieving, and they honored Gathers by wearing No. 44 patches on their jerseys.

LMU somehow pulled off the upset, with five players scoring in double figures, led by Jeff Fryer (41 points and 11 3s), Bo Kimble (37 points, 7 rebounds, 4 rebounds and 2 steals) and Per Stumer (21 points, 8 rebounds and 5 3s). Six Wolverines scored in double figures in the loss, led by Terry Mills (23 points and 10 rebounds), Rumeal Robinson (23 points and 8 assists) and Loy Vaught (19 points and 17 rebounds).

Head coach Paul Westhead was ahead of his time, implementing "The System" -- an up-tempo attack that featured 3-pointers and a full-court press. In the upset win, LMU made 21 3s to Michigan's four. The game was held at Long Beach Arena -- 30 minutes from LMU's campus -- so it felt like a home game for the Lions. LMU advanced to the Elite Eight, where it lost to UNLV (the eventual champion). LMU's 149 points are still an NCAA tournament record. The next highest point total? UNLV's 131 points ... which occurred against LMU in the 1990 NCAA tournament.

234 points: LMU (119) vs. Wyoming (115), 1988

Westhead's "The System" strikes again! Two years before their record-setting performance against Michigan, No. 10 Loyola Marymount upset No. 7 Wyoming 119-115 in the first round of the 1988 NCAA tournament. Five LMU players scored in double digits, including Kimble (29 points and 4 3s), Mike Yoest (25 points and 9 rebounds) and Gathers (19 points, 12 rebounds and 4 steals).

Wyoming featured a balanced offensive attack, with six players scoring in double figures (and none scoring more than 23 points). It was led by Eric Leckner (23 points and 8 rebounds), Robyn Davis (19 points and 6 rebounds) and Fennis Dembo (14 points, 8 assists, 7 assists, 2 blocks and a steal) in the losing effort.

Unlike in LMU's upset win over Michigan, there wasn't a huge discrepancy in terms of 3-point shooting, as Loyola Marymount hit 8 3s to Wyoming's 6. However, LMU shot 37 free throws to Wyoming's 21.

232 points, UNLV (131) vs. LMU (101), 1990

LMU was involved in the three highest-scoring games in NCAA tournament history -- this time on the losing end. After upsetting Michigan and advancing to the Elite Eight, No. 11 Loyola Marymount ran into top-seeded UNLV.

While "The System" allowed LMU to put up points in a hurry, it allowed other teams to score in bunches as well. UNLV put up the second-most points in March Madness history in this win over LMU, led by Stacey Augmon (33 points, 11 rebounds, 6 assists, 2 steals), Larry Johnson (20 points, 18 rebounds, 5 assists and 2 blocks), Greg Anthony (21 points, 8 assists and 3 steals) and Anderson Hunt (30 points, 13 assists, 6 steals and 4 rebounds).

Kimble had 42 points, 11 rebounds, 8 3-pointers, 3 assists and 3 steals, and Fryer chipped in 21 points and 6 rebounds, but it wasn't enough to continue LMU's Cinderella run. Jerry Tarkanian and UNLV went on to win the national championship over Duke, 103-73.

227 points, Iowa (121) vs. Notre Dame (106), 1970

Back in the 1970s, the NCAA tournament wasn't fully seeded and they would hold third-place games for each region. This high-scoring showdown between Iowa and Notre Dame took place in the Midwest Regional's third-place game.

Notre Dame was led by Austin Carr, who averaged 38.1 points per game that season (which was the second-most in the nation behind only Pete Maravich). Carr erupted for 45 points and 10 rebounds, while Collis Jones chipped in 24 points and 8 rebounds.

However, it wasn't enough to defeat Iowa, who had five players score in double figures. John Johnson (31 points and 9 rebounds), Chad Calabria (31 points and 8 rebounds) and Glenn Vidnovic (24 points and 11 rebounds) led the way. Iowa was the more efficient team, shooting 53.1% from the field and 89.5% from the free throw line (compared to 46.4% and 88.9% for the Fighting Irish). The NCAA tournament didn't feature the 3-point line until 1987, making this high-scoring outing even more impressive.

225 points, Houston (119) vs. Notre Dame (106), 1971

One year after their high-scoring affair with Iowa, Notre Dame advanced to the Midwest Region's third-place game yet again. However, it would come up short once again.

Houston shot the ball much better, hitting 56% of its field goal attempts to Notre Dame's 38.2%. Poo Welch (38 points, 7 assists and 4 rebounds), Steve Newsome (29 points, 8 rebounds and 3 assists) and Dwight Davis (18 points, 13 rebounds and 5 assists) led the way for the Cougars.

Carr had another outstanding performance, finishing with 47 points and 12 rebounds -- the ninth-most points scored in a March Madness game. Carr has four of the top-10 highest-scoring games in NCAA tournament history, including the scoring record (61 points).

However, against Houston, Carr, Collis Jones (25 points and 22 rebounds) and Sid Catlett (16 points and 10 rebounds) didn't get much help.

Check out ESPN's men's college basketball coverage, including the latest rankings, in-depth features, recruiting content, bracketology and more.

Highest-scoring games in men's March Madness history (2024)


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