A loss to Virginia knocked Purdue out of March Madness, but no player has been more impressive than Carsen Edwards during the 2019 NCAA men's basketball tournament.
Despite the defeat, Purdue's star assembled another 40-point effort and put top-seeded Virginia on the ropes. But the Cavaliers punched back, largely thanks to Ty Jerome and Mamadi Diakite―both of whom join Edwards on B/R's All-Tournament squads.
Five players apiece landed on the first and second teams, which highlight the top performers through the Elite Eight. Individual contributions, clutch play and collective success all factored into the picks.
Ty Jerome, Virginia
Whenever Kyle Guy struggled, Jerome steadied the offense and made critical shots in both the Sweet 16 and Elite Eight. He's the biggest reason Virginia reached its first Final Four in 35 years. So far, the veteran guard has amassed 62 points, 22 assists and eight steals while shooting 40.7 percent from three-point range.
Jared Harper, Auburn
Harper was a pivotal contributor to Auburn's upset of North Carolina, providing nine points and 11 assists. He followed that performance with 26 points and five assists to stun Kentucky. Entering the Final Four, the slippery point guard has averaged 17.5 points and 6.5 assists.
RJ Barrett, Duke
After tallying 26 points and 14 rebounds in Duke's first-round victory, Barrett hit a game-winning shot against UCF with 11 seconds remaining. His 18-point, 11-assist showing nudged the Blue Devils through the Sweet 16, and he netted 21 points in the Elite Eight.
Rui Hachimura, Gonzaga
Now that Gonzaga is eliminated, Hachimura is likely headed to the NBA. While his junior campaign ended in disappointment, he still collected 66 points and 23 rebounds to help the Zags reach the Elite Eight.
Mamadi Diakite, Virginia
Through four games, Diakite has provided a consistent impact. The forward has netted 52 points and grabbed 36 rebounds on 64.9 percent shooting from the field. Most importantly, he dropped in a game-tying buzzer-beater against Purdue in the Elite Eight. Virginia won in overtime.
Cassius Winston, Michigan State
By the Numbers
Winston has assembled an impressive stat line in all four games. He tallied 26 points and four assists against Bradley, then 13 and nine opposite Minnesota. Following a 17-point, eight-assist day during the Sweet 16, he had 20 and 10 in the win over Duke.
Perhaps you prefer Winston's second-half surge to give Michigan State a comfortable lead against Minnesota. But we're convinced it's the closing four seconds against Duke when he ran around the court to kill the clock and complete the upset.
Michigan State will challenge the nation's best defense in the Final Four. Texas Tech surrendered fewer than 60 points in three March Madness games before toppling Gonzaga and held the Bulldogs to their third-lowest shooting percentage of the season.
Carsen Edwards, Purdue
By the Numbers
The two highest-scoring games in the 2019 tourney belong to Edwards. During the second round, he shredded Villanova for 42 points. The junior equaled that showing opposite Virginia, hitting 10 threes while nearly carrying Purdue to a win. Though the Boilermakers fell to the Cavaliers, Edwards broke Stephen Curry's record for most points through the Elite Eight (139).
Even in a loss, Edwards became a national star.
"I told him after the game that I had a lot of respect for him and that he's a bad dude," Virginia guard Kyle Guy told reporters. "And he's nothing to hang his head on."
Edwards is expected to declare for the 2019 NBA draft. He was already a potential first-round pick, and this brilliant four-game stretch in March only improved his chances.
Jarrett Culver, Texas Tech
By the Numbers
Culver has flooded the box score. In addition to averaging 21.5 points, he's gathered 6.8 rebounds, 4.5 assists, 2.3 steals and 1.3 blocks per game. Only two players (Edwards and Zion Williamson) have totaled more points than Culver's 86.
In the Sweet 16, he scored 14 of a game-high 22 points in the second half to propel Texas Tech past Michigan. Culver lived around the rim during that stretch, making four layups, a dunk and four free throws.
The Red Raiders are preparing for the program's Final Four debut. Culver will lead Texas Tech into a showdown with Michigan State, which enters the contest on a nine-game winning streak.
Zion Williamson, Duke
By the Numbers
Williamson went 12-of-16 for 25 points against North Dakota State. Then, he amassed 32 points, 11 rebounds and four assists when Duke escaped UCF and 23 points with three blocks in the narrow win over Virginia Tech. Zion wrapped up his college career with 24 points and 14 rebounds against Michigan State.
Any time he thundered home an alley-oop or swatted a shot on the backboard? The NCAA tournament was loaded with highlight-worthy plays from the freshman. Our personal favorite is a soaring slam in the Sweet 16.
Williamson will declare for the 2019 NBA draft and is basically a lock to be chosen No. 1 overall. The biggest question is which franchise―perhaps the New York Knicks or Phoenix Suns―will win the lottery and land a superstar.
Brandon Clarke, Gonzaga
By the Numbers
No player in March Madness has swatted more shots than Clarke, who turned aside 15 shots for 3.8 blocks per game. The junior also averaged 20.3 points (at a 64.7 shooting clip), 10.0 rebounds, 2.5 assists and 1.3 steals.
Clarke was a star in the second round, shredding Baylor for 36 points, eight rebounds and five blocks. He finished 15-of-18 from the field while joining Navy's David Robinson and LSU's Shaquille O'Neal as the only players in NCAA tournament history to post 35 points and five blocks in a game.
The physical forward has an NBA draft decision. After the loss to Texas Tech, per Theo Lawson of the Spokesman-Review, Clarke said he'll "figure it out somewhat soon."