6 Players Who Can Help Their Team Pull Off an Upset in the NCAA Tournament
The NCAA tournament brackets are out and it is time for everyone to start filling out their brackets and entering them in bracket challenges. Before doing so it would be helpful to know about some of the players from the double-digit seeds who can help their teams pull off upsets. Every year when an upset happens there is usually one player that helps their team get over the hump. Davidson had a solid team when they made it to the elite eight in 2008, but Steph Curry was the one who made their tournament run possible. This year there will be upsets and these are players who could help their teams pull them off.
- Fred Van Vleet, G, Wichita State
Van Vleet seems like he has been at Wichita State for a decade, but it is finally his senior year. He was a reserve on the 2013 Final Four team for the Shockers and played well during the tournament. His Sophomore year he led Wichita State to and undefeated regular season, but they lost in the second round to Kentucky. Last season he helped the Shockers get to the sweet 16. Now they play in the First Four in Dayton, but can still make a tournament run with good tournaments by Van Vleet and senior back-court teammate Ron Baker. The Shockers play Vanderbilt and should be able to win because they have better guard play. If they advance they match up with Arizona, who has struggled to find good guard play all season, making it a great match up for the Shockers. Van Vleet has averaged 12 points and 5.7 assists per game, but usually elevates his level of play in the NCAA tournament.
2. Kyle Wiltjer, F, Gonzaga
Kyle Wiltjer is the epitome of a stretch-four player. He has gotten better over his college career at defense at rebounding, but he is in the game to shoot. Unlike many other players in the tournament, Wiltjer has a NCAA Championship already that he won as a back up in 2012 with the Kentucky Wildcats. Since transferring to Gonzaga he has blossomed into a star. He is averaging 20.7 points on the season and 6.5 rebounds. If he gets hot he can score 30 points with ease and Gonzaga can beat Seton Hall in their first round game.
3. Chris Flemmings, G, UNC-Wilmington
Flemmings has been through a lot, but has gotten to the best tournament in sports. He started off playing in divison II for Barton College, then walked on to UNCW and sat out a year. Now Flemmings leads the team in scoring at 16.1 points per game. He also is a good rebounding guard, pulling down 5.9 rebounds per game. At 6’5″, he has the size to match up with any guards from major conferences. The Seahawks have a good offense, but will need to step up their defense in the tournament. They play Duke in the first round who is a very similar team in that they are good offensively, but not efficient defensively. Flemmings’ scoring and rebounding can help get the job done against their in-state opponent.
4. Jameel Warney, F, Stony Brook
Warney is a senior forward who helped Stony Brook reach their first ever NCAA Tournament. In the American East Championship Game, Warney finished with 43 points, ten rebounds and four blocks. At 6’8″ tall he has averaged a double-double this season with 19.8 points per game and 10.7 rebounds per game. He will have to have another great game in the Seawolves’ first game against a very good Kentucky team. Kentucky’s big men haven’t played well this season so Warney has the ability to carry his team to victory.
5. Wes Washpun, G, Northern Iowa
Washpun started off his college career going to Tennessee, but then transferred to Northern Iowa. He came off of the bench last season on the Panther’s tournament team to give them a good sixth man. Washpun is now starting at point guard for Northern Iowa and doing a little bit of everything for them. He averages 14.3 points, 4 rebounds and 5.2 assists per game. Washpun has a tendency to do well in big games for the Panthers as he had 21 points and 8 assists in their upset win over North Carolina. They will need Washpun to play another excellent game in the first round because they play Texas, who pressures the ball really well.
6. A.J. English, G, Iona
Iona has a player that will be drafted in the NBA this June and his name is A.J. English. English is a senior who played in the NCAA tournament as a freshman. He now averages 22.4 points. 5 rebounds and 6.2 assists per game. He is very dangerous because he can score in a variety of ways and he sets up his teammates well when the defense focuses too much attention on him. He will need to get to the basket and draw fouls against Iowa State in their first round game because Iowa State is not a very deep team. If he can do that then Iona will advance.