One byproduct of college basketball’s March Madness’ 68-team, single-elimination format is it provides an avenue for players from programs major and mid-major to upgrade their stature. When certain players get their opportunity, they unlock a level few mortals can reach and sustain for multiple weeks. It’s a test of ball skills, perseverance, and grit that illuminates superstars.
Since the NCAA Tournament expanded to 64 teams in 1985 and 68 teams in 2011, many of the NCAA Tournament’s breakthrough stars didn’t emerge as national champions or Most Outstanding Player. That’s part of March Madness’ beauty. Here are the 10 most resplendent individual tournament runs from the hoopers who didn’t win it all.