Players That Can Lead Their Team to an Upset Victory in the 2017 NCAA Tournament

The best part of the NCAA Tournament year in and year out are the upsets. The unheralded team knocks off the national powerhouse and goes down in history. Every team that pulls off the upset has a player that leads them to victory. C.J. McCollum scored 30 points on Duke in Lehigh’s upset. Sherwood Brown dropped a total of 41 points in Florida Gulf Coast’s run to the Sweet 16.

Not all upsets have to be extreme as a 15 seed beating a two seed, like the ones previously mentioned, but every upset needs a star. Here are some players that can be that catalyst for their team:

Trevon Bluiett, Xavier Musketeers

The Xavier Musketeers are a popular pick to beat Maryland in the first round of the NCAA Tournament. The Musketeers will be without point guard Edmond Sumner, who is out for the season with a torn ACL. If they do pull off the upset it will be in no doubt because of Bluiett.

Bluiett is averaging 18.1 points per game and shooting 44% from the floor. He has the ability to get hot in an instant and can go from no points to 20 within minutes as a classic shooter, who hardly ever drives to the basket. Bluiett has been in the NCAA Tournament before, but has yet to score more than 10 points in a game in five career tournament games.

His crowning moment this year was his performance against cross-town rival Cincinnati. He scored 40 points on 12 of 15 shooting. He made nine of 11 three pointers in that game, in an unbelievable shooting night. Xavier ended up losing the game, but had he gotten more shots up, things could’ve been different.

With not having scored a lot in the NCAA Tournament, Bluiett is going to have all the motivation he needs to have a good game and lead his team to victory.

Chris Flemmings, UNC Wilmington

Flemmings has one of the best backstories in college basketball. He had to email UNC Wilmington to get a chance to play for them after playing at nearby Barton College, a division II school. Last season he came close to helping the Seahawks pull off an upset over Duke with 18 points.

Chris Flemmings

Photo courtesy: foxsports.com

UNC Wilmington has made it back to the dance and Flemmings has had another good season. He has averaged 15.8 points per game on 47% shooting. He hasn’t been as good at defense, as last year, but that is because he is tasked with guarding bigger players all the time. The Seahawks lack height and Flemmings usually has to pick up the slack by guarding power forwards.

The first round match-up for UNC Wilmington will be tough as they play an elite defensive team in Virginia. Flemmings will need to score a lot (which may not be as much as usual against such a good defensive team), and guard players bigger than him well.

JaCorey Williams, Middle Tennessee

After starting his career at Arkansas, Williams has played his last year of eligibility at Middle Tennessee. He didn’t do much with The Razorbacks, playing behind Bobby Portis and only averaging 4.8 points per game his junior season.

Williams sat out last season because of the NCAA transfer rules, but has been lighting up the scoreboard for the Blue Raiders this season. He is averaging 17.3 points per game and has given them another big presence in the paint, averaging 7.3 rebounds. He is shooting 54 percent on the season, which is about the percentage that will be needed for Middle Tennessee to advance.

The Blue Raiders will need him to be at his best, as they are playing a Minnesota team that has a lot of size. He may not need to score every basket, but does need to find the open man, if the Golden Gophers choose to double him in the post.

Keon Johnson, Winthrop

Johnson is one of the shortest players in college basketball at 5 feet 7 inches tall, but can score with the best of them. He is by far the most important player for the Eagles.

Keon Johnson

Photo courtesy: whri.com

His average of 22.5 points per game is good enough for 10th in the country. He steps up in big games, scoring 38 at Illinois and 24 at Dayton. Johnson is shooting 40% from behind the arc, but also does his part getting to the basket to amass his points.

Butler is an above average defensive team, but Johnson should be able to get his shots up. If he converts, Winthrop can take Butler to the wire.

Marcus Marshall, Nevada

Nevada has been a trendy pick to pick Iowa State and Marshall is the reason why. Marshall played his first three seasons at Missouri State before transferring to Nevada.

Marshall averages 19.8 points per game and hits 3.3 three point field goals per game. He scored 32 points at Washington, against future top draft pick Markelle Fultz. He can score against premier talent and will have to do so against Iowa State.

He will be matched up against Monte Morris, one of the best point guards in the country. If he can match him shot for shot, Nevada has a chance to win.

 

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2017 Big South Tournament Update

The Big South Tournament is already under way with the quarterfinals starting on Mar. 2. Campbell and Charleston Southern already won in the first round, leaving eight teams left.

This tournament lets the higher seeded teams host the lower seeded teams, so Winthrop is in the driver’s seat and will host every game they play. They do have some stiff competition in UNC Asheville for the Big South Tournament Championship. Will one of these teams win or will there be an upset?

Big South Champs: UNC Asheville

The Bulldogs split the season series with Winthrop and will likely have to beat the Eagles to win the tournament. They beat Winthrop at home, but only lost by three on the road. UNC Asheville is in a good position to take another game against Winthrop to the wire, but this time will prevail.Big South

UNC Asheville is hot going into their first match-up of the tournament against Campbell. The Bulldogs have won 10 of their last 11 games, including their win over Winthrop. They will need to keep this momentum going in this tournament and don’t show too many signs of slowing down.

Statistically, the bulldogs have an edge ranking in the top 100 in both points per game and points all
owed per game. Their ability to be solid on both sides of the ball will win them the 2017 Big South Tournament.

Tournament MVP: Ahmad Thomas

Big South

Ahmad Thomas (Citizen-Times.com)

Thomas is on the Bulldogs, the predicted champions. MaCio Teague (his teammate) and Keon Johnson (Winthrop) will give him a run for his money, but Thomas will be the MVP of the tournament.

In the games against Winthrop, their biggest games for the past two months, Thomas scored 27 and 26 points. He has been a great scorer averaging 18 points per game. Thomas is an efficient scorer, shooting 54% from the floor and 48% from behind the arc. He did have a dud of a game against Campbell, but in the two games afterwards he averaged 28 points. He will keep the hot streak going starting in the quarterfinal.

He adds the ability to rebound the ball even though he is a guard. He averages 6.2 rebounds per game and will need to rebound well in order for UNC Asheville to win the tournament.

Thomas’ efficiency and rebounding will help him win MVP.

 

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