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Columns Front Office Writers Joe Heisman NCAAB Sports

The player you need to know from each team in the 2018 NCAA Tournament

With the NCAA Tournament looming, some players will blossom into stardom. Who they are is dependent on how far they can carry their team. Every team has one, if not more, players to keep an eye on. What players could have a huge impact in the Tournament?

South Regional

1. Virginia Cavaliers- Kyle Guy, G

Kyle Guy is not only the leading scorer on the number one overall seed, he made the All-ACC First Team. If the Cavaliers are able to make it to the Final Four, Guy will play a huge part in it.

16. UMBC Retrievers- Jairus Lyles, G

Lyles made headlines when he mad the game-winning shot in the AEC Tournament Final against Vermont to send the Retrievers to the big dance. The truth is he has been scoring at a high rate for thee years now at UMBC with over 20 points per game this season.

8. Creighton Bluejays- Marcus Foster, G

Well Foster’s name will be mentioned a lot in the first round because he is good and because he started off his career at Kansas State, who the Bluejays are playing. He averages 20.3 points per game and will be looking to pour it on his former school.

9. Kansas State Wildcats- Barry Brown, G

Both Barry Brown and Dean Wade are expected to play after sustaining injuries in the last few weeks. Brown is a floor general, who averages 16 points and 3.4 assists per game. He also called a team practice on a team off day to correct some problems, which helps his reputation as a coach on the floor.

5. Kentucky Wildcats- Kevin Knox, F

Shai Gilgeous-Alexander was also in contention here, but Knox is the x-factor and the player who will likely be drafted the highest. At times the Wildcats go as Knox goes. He is the teams leading scorer at 15.6 points per game.

12. Davidson Wildcats- Peyton Aldridge, F

Another tough call here, as Kellan Grady is a great freshman, but Aldridge is a senior who is averaging 21.5 points per game. If Davidson can upset Kentucky, he and Grady will be why.

Players you need to know in the 2018 NCAA Tournament
DeAndre Ayton (Photo by sportingnews.com)

4. Arizona Wildcats- DeAndre Ayton, C

This one was not as tough to pick. Ayton is a generational talent at center and is peaking at the right time of the season with his 32 points a piece in the last two rounds of the Pac-12 Tournament. He averages 20.3 points and 11.5 rebounds per game and should get a touch every time down the floor for the Wildcats.

13. Buffalo Bulls- C.J. Massinburg, G

Buffalo has a lot of solid players, but Massinburg is the teams leading scorer and rebounder with 16.9 and 7.4 per game respectively. The rebounding numbers are especially impressive for a guard.

6. Miami Hurricanes- Lonnie Walker IV, G

Walker has a chance to be a one and done player and has showed potential. While he has been inconsistent at times, if Miami makes a run, it’ll likely mean he is playing well.

11. Loyola-Chicago Ramblers- Clayton Custer, G

The junior leads the team in both points (13.4) and assists (4.3) per game. Loyola is a trendy upset pick and if they make a “Cinderella run”, Custer will have the ball in his hands the most.

3. Tennessee Volunteers- Grant Williams, F

Williams is an undersized forward, but he is tough and plays hard. He was rewarded with the SEC Player of the Year award for averaging 15.3 points and six rebounds per game.

14. Wright State Raiders- Grant Benzinger, G

At some point during the game they will mention that Grant’s dad Todd was a World Series champion for the Cincinnati Reds in 1990, but the real story is: Grant can play. The guard averages 14.5 points and 5.4 rebounds per game and exploded for 31 points in a big game against Northern Kentucky.

7. Nevada Wolfpack- Caleb Martin, F

Martin and his twin, Cody, may be remembered for their time at N.C. State, but they have both done well at Nevada this season. Caleb is averaging 19.1 points and 5.3 rebounds per game.

10. Texas Longhorns- Mo Bamba, C

Bamba missed the Big 12 Tournament with an injury, but said he is 100% now. He was one of the most coveted recruits in this past year’s recruiting class and is one of the best rim protectors in college basketball.

2. Cincinnati Bearcats- Gary Clark, F

The Bearcats are having their best season in recent memory and have one of the program’s greatest players as a senior. Clark won the AAC Player of the Year this season and leads the team in scoring and rebounding.

15. Georgia State Panthers- D’Marcus Simonds, G

Simonds is only a sophomore, but averages 21.1 points per game. He scored 27 in the Sun Belt Tournament Final, but will have a tough time scoring against a good Cincinnati team in round one.

West Regional

Players to watch in the 2018 NCAA Tournament
Trevon Bluiett (Photo by wcpo.com)

1. Xavier Musketeers- Trevon Bluiett, G

Bluiett had a good tournament run last year with Xavier, when they were an 11 seed. For his senior campaign he has averaged 19.5 points per game. If he plays up to his potential every game, the Musketeers could be heading to their first Final Four in school history.

16. (Play-in) NC Central Eagles- Raasean Davis, C

Davis averages 15 points and eight rebounds per game this season and helped lead NC Central on a crazy MEAC Tournament run to secure the auto-bid.

16. (Play-in) Texas Southern Tigers- Demontrae Jefferson, G

Jefferson does a little bit of everything for the Tigers with 23.5 points, three rebounds and 4.5 assists per game.

8. Missouri Tigers- Michael Porter Jr., F

Porter Jr. only played for a few seconds before sitting out most of the season with a back injury. The talented freshman came back for the SEC Tournament, but was rusty. With some more time, he can shake off the rust and show everyone why he was such a coveted recruit.

9. Florida State Seminoles- Terance Mann, G

He went cold in the ACC Tournament, but Mann is Florida State’s leading scorer with 13.2 points per game. Hopefully he can find his stroke again for the NCAA Tournament.

5. Ohio State Buckeyes- Keita Bates-Diop, F

Bates-Diop was one of the most improved players in the country this season under new coach Chris Holtmann. He’s averaging 19.8 points and 8.8 rebounds per game and is tough to guard.

12. South Dakota Jackrabbits- Mike Daum, F

Daum has been in the last two NCAA Tournaments with the Jackrabbits, but has not yet secured a win. The junior averages 23.8 points and 10.4 rebounds per game and is an inside-out threat.

4. Gonzaga Bulldogs- Killian Tillie, F

The Bulldogs have several good players, but Tillie is heating up at the right time. He’s scored over 20 points per game in each of the last three games. During that span he hit 13 of 14 three point shots.

13. UNC Greensboro- Francis Alonso, G

Alonso is from Malaga, Spain and averages 15.6 points per game. He has represented the Spanish National Team in FIBA competitions for the under 20 ranks.

6. Houston Cougars- Rob Gray, G

Houston has had a great season and Gray is the team leader. He had a turnover at the end of the AAC Tournament Championship game, which made him look as if he was physically sick. The 6’1″ guard averages 18.5 points per game and will want to make up for his mistake.

11. San Diego State Aztecs- Trey Kell, G

The senior only averages 10.4 points per game, but exploded for 28 against New Mexico in the MWC Tournament Championship. He is taking less shots than in years past, but is shooting more efficiently.

3. Michigan Wolverines- Muhammed-Ali Abdur-Rahkman, G

Mo Wagner was also in contention, but Abdur-Rahkman is coming off of a good Big Ten Tournamen, where he scored 21, 15 and 15 in three games. He is also a very good defender, which will be needed to shut down opponent’s best wing players.

14. Montana Grizzlies- Ahmaad Rorie, G

Montana has a do-it-all guard in Rorie, who averages 17.2 points, 3.8 rebounds and 3.7 assists per game. Rorie spent a year at Oregon before transferring to Montana and gets to the free throw line frequently.

7. Texas A&M Aggies- Robert Williams, F

Williams is the fourth leading scorer at 10.3 points per game, but is the difference-maker for the Aggies. He is the team’s best draft prospect, but has a questionable motor. If he plays hard, the Aggies can go on a run this March.

10. Providence Friars- Kyron Cartwright, G

While he is just the team’s third leading scorer, he proved that when he’s on, Providence can beat anyone. He averaged 15.7 points per game in the Big East Tournament and is looking good heading into the NCAA Tournament.

2. North Carolina Tarheels- Theo Pinson, F

Joel Berry and Luke Maye are both quality names, but Pinson does a little bit of everything for North Carolina. He averages 10.3 points, 6.4 rebounds and 4.8 assists per game and could be the key to a long tournament run for the Tar Heels.

15. Lipscomb Bisons- Garrison Mathews, G

Mathews averages 22.1 points per game for Lipscomb after averaging over 20 points per game last year. He is averagine 28.3 points per game over the last three games.

East Regional

players to know in the 2018 NCAA Tournament
Jalen Brunson (Photo by draftexpress.com)

1. Villanova Wildcats- Jalen Brunson, G

Mikal Bridges is also an option, but Brunson is in contention for Player of the Year. He scores and assists at a high rate and is an absolute floor general. He gained a lot of good experience when Villanova won the championship two seasons ago.

16. (Play-in) Radford Highlanders- Carlik Jones, G

Jones is the second leading scorer, but hit the game-winning shot in their conference tournament to get them into the NCAA Tournament.

16. (Play-in) LIU-Brooklyn- Joel Hernandez, G

Hernandez scores 20.9 points per game and is coming off a 32 point outing at Wagner to secure the automatic bid for the NEC.

8. Virginia Tech Hokies- Justin Robinson, G

Virginia Tech is a good offensive team and Robinson is their leading scorer and assist man with 13.8 and 5.6 respectively.

9. Alabama Crimson Tide- Collin Sexton, G

Another one of the most heralded recruits in the freshman class, Sexton is peaking at the right time. He averages 19 points per game and gets to the foul line a staggering 7.5 times per contest.

5. West Virginia Mountaineers- Jevon Carter, G

Carter is not only their leading scorer at 17 points per game, but is also their best defender. He helps make West Virginia into “Press Virginia”.

12. Murray State Racers- Jonathan Stark, G

The Munford, Tennessee product averages 21.8 points per game and scored 21 against Auburn in December. The game gave the Tigers a scare as the result was 81-77 in favor of Auburn.

4. Wichita State Shockers- Landry Shamet, G

Shamet leads the team in both scoring and assists. He has been around for a few years and can set his team up for a deep tournament run.

13. Marshall Thundering Herd- Jon Elmore, G

Talk about a guy who can do it all. Elmore averages 22.8 points, six rebounds and 6.9 assists per game. The last player to average 28/6/6 in college basketball? Evan Turner.

6. Florida Gators- Chris Chiozza, G

Chiozza hit the big shot for Florida in last year’s NCAA Tournament to beat Wisconsin and is back for more. He scores and passes well for the Gators.

11. (Play-in) St. Bonaventure Bonnies- Jaylen Adams, G

While he doesn’t get a lot of publicity, Adams produces at a high rate. He averages 19.8 points and 5.4 assists per game. The senior has been at St. Bonaventure has become an all-around offensive threat.

11. (Play-in) UCLA Bruins- Aaron Holiday, G

Aaron is the little brother of former UCLA standout, Jrue Holiday, who now plays for the New Orleans Pelicans. Aaron is a good player in his own right who averages over 20 points and five assists per game.

3. Texas Tech Red Raiders- Keenan Evans, G

Evans has been the catalyst for a quick turnaround at Texas Tech. He averages 17.1 points per game and plays good defense for the Red Raiders.

14. Stephen F. Austin- Kevon Harris, G

He is the second leading scorer on the team, but Harris pulls down a lot of rebounds and shoots a scorching 43.2% from deep.

7. Arkansas Razorbacks- Daniel Gafford, F

The senior guards for the Razorbacks are great, but Gafford can help take the team to the next level. The freshman has shown flashes of being great, but still averages 11.9 points and 6.2 rebounds per game.

10. Butler Bulldogs- Kelan Martin, F

Martin has gotten better every year at Butler, but has really taken his game to the next level this season, as he is averaging 20.8 points per game.

2. Purdue Boilermakers- Vincent Edwards, F

Edwards is the choice for Purdue because of his versatility. The 6’8″ forward can play on the inside or on the outside and is tough to guard.

15. Cal State Fullerton Titans- Kyle Allman, G

He is shooting 43% from deep and takes 3.2 three point field goals per game. The Titans will need to get the best shooter on their team open for threes for a chance to knock off Purdue.

Midwest Regional

1. Kansas Jayhawks- Devonte’ Graham, G

Graham was the Big 12’s Player of the Year and has patiently waited to take over point guard duties from Frank Mason. He averages 17.5 points and 7.5 assists per game.

16. Penn Quakers- AJ Brodeur, F

In the Ivy League Tournament, Brodeur scored 25 against Yale and 16 against Harvard. He shoots 54.6% from the field and scores, rebounds and assists at a high rate.

8. Seton Hall Pirates- Desi Rodriguez, F

The senior has improved every year at Seton Hall and now is one of the best players in the Big East. He averages 17.8 points per game, but also helps out with rebounding duties.

9. N.C. State Wolfpack- Omer Yurtseven, C

The seven footer from Turkey is not easy to guard. He can shoot from the outside, as well as do damage on the inside. If the Wolfpack go far in the big dance, he will have to play well.

5. Clemson Tigers- Marcquise Reed, G

Donte Grantham, likely would have been the pick here, but Reed picked up the slack in his absence. He leads the team in points and assists, but also is one of the best rebounders on the team.

12. New Mexico State Aggies- Zach Lofton, G

Lofton is one of the best scorers in the country at 19.8 points per game. New Mexico State is a trendy upset pick and if they are to win their first round matchup with Clemson, Lofton will have to produce.

4. Auburn Tigers- Bryce Brown, G

While he is just the second leading scorer, when Brown shoots efficiently, Auburn does better. The Tigers aren’t deep, so Brown will need to play big and stay out of foul trouble.

13. College of Charleston Cougars- Joe Chealey, G

He is second on the team in points scored, second in rebounds and first in assists per game. Chealey is one of three big scorers on the Cougars, who can help get the job done.

6. TCU Horned Frogs- Alex Robinson, G

The Texas A&M transfer has been huge for the Horned Frogs, especially after the loss of Jaylen Fisher to injury. He scores 9.8 points and dishes out 6.1 assists per game.

11. (Play-in) Arizona State Sun Devils- Tra Holder, G

Holder has been a star for years at Arizona State and now gets to display this on the big stage. He and Arizona State have been slumping the last half of the season, so he has to pick it up.

11. (Play-in) Syracuse Orange- Tyus Battle, G

Battle is the best player for the Orange by far and is the reason Syracuse was able to make the tournament. He is only a sophomore, so this may not be the last fans see of Battle in the NCAA Tournament.

players to know in the 2018 NCAA Tournament
Miles Bridges (Photo by draftexpress.com)

3. Michigan State Spartans- Miles Bridges, F

Spartans fans were elated when Bridges decided to come back for his sophomore season. He is the best player on the team and one of the best in the country.

14. Bucknell Bison- Zach Thomas, F

He nearly averages 20 and 10 for Bucknell and can even stretch the floor with his three point shooting. He was cold the last two games of the Patriot League Tournament and will want to be at his best for the NCAA Tournament.

7. Rhode Island Rams- Jared Terrell, G

Terrell is a good defender and leads the team in scoring, which is aided by his great three point shooting. He will need to play well for the Rams to advance.

10. Oklahoma Sooners- Trae Young, G

Oklahoma has the only player in the history of college basketball to lead the nation in both points and assists per game. Trae Young is just a freshman and does turn the ball over at a high rate, but if he’s on, Oklahoma is tough to beat.

2. Duke Blue Devils- Marvin Bagley III, F

Bagley is a future NBA star who leads the team in points and rebounding. With his size and skill, there aren’t too many players who could guard him.

15. Iona Gaels- Rickey McGill, G

In his last three games McGill has only scored 12 points, but the game before that against Rider he poured in 40. Getting him the ball will be a priority for Iona.

 

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