Bracket Briefing: 12 players poised to become March Madness stars – USA TODAY
AT THE WATER COOLER: The NCAA tournament is officially underway, and 66 teams remain as we transition into the two most-action packed sporting days of the year.
That’s when the lights will begin to shine.
March Madness isn’t necessarily where stars are born. But it’s certainly where they step into the spotlight.
NCAA TOURNAMENT: Tip-sheet for March Madness
T.J. Warren, for instance, already got chance to show off his finesse moves and dunkability thanks to North Carolina State’s inclusion into the field of 68. Warren had 25 points in the Wolfpack’s first-round victory against Xavier, and he technically had an off night.
Here’s a look at 12 under-the-radar players from low-seeded teams who are most likely to spearhead their teams on major runs and drop ridiculous stat lines in the process.
1. Bryce Cotton, Providence: The senior guard averages 21.4 points and 5.8 assists a game and led the Friars to the Big East Tournament title.
2. T.J. Warren, North Carolina State: The best player in the ACC who can literally put his team on his back. The sophomore forward had 42 points in a March 6 win against Boston College.
3. Kendall Williams, New Mexico:
The senior is one of the most underrated guards in the country, averaging 16.4 points and 4.9 assists a game, and he drives a Lobos team poised for a deep run.
4. Joseph Young, Oregon: The Houston transfer has become the Ducks’ primary offensive weapon, and he has great takeover abilities, evidenced by a 29-point outing against UCLA in the Pac-12 tournament.
5. James Michael McAdoo, North Carolina: The junior big man has been a steady force for the Tar Heels in the paint and has the skill set to break out in the tournament. He averages 14.2 points and 6.7 rebounds.
6. Chaz Williams, Massachusetts: The 5-9 sparkplug point guard injects life into this UMass squad and if the Minutemen make any sort of run in the NCAAs, it’ll be behind Williams, who averages 15.8 points and 7.0 assist.
7. Langston Galloway, Saint Joseph’s: The senior guard piloted the Hawks to the Atlantic 10 Conference tournament title, and it started with 31 points against Dayton — just a sample of how he can take over games.
8. Kevin Pangos, Gonzaga: The junior guard was perhaps the best player in the West Coast Conference this season and stepped into the role of lead catalyst on this ‘Zags roster that lost two players to the NBA.
9. Kyle Anderson, UCLA: The Magic Johnson-esque point guard, Anderson is s-9 and towers over his defenders. He averages 14.9 points, 8.8 rebounds and 6.6 assists. He had 25 points, 15 rebounds and five assists in UCLA’s win against Arizona in the Pac-12 tournament title game.
10. Terran Petteway, Nebraska: The sophomore forward emerged as one of the best players in the Big Ten and is one of the main reasons Nebraska is in the NCAA tournament field. He’s a tough matchup and can stack up the stat sheet — shown with a 26-point, 10-rebound performance in a March 9 win against Wisconsin.
11. Jonathan Holmes, Texas: The Longhorns’ main weapon has battled injury for much of the season but at full strength he’s got the moxie to lead the team on a surprise run. He averages 13 points and 7.2 rebounds and he was the key behind Texas’ seven-game winning streak in January that included a big win against a red-hot Kansas team.
12. Mo Creek, George Washington: The senior guard can fill it up and when he’s healthy, the Colonials have Cinderella potential. The Indiana transfer makes 41% of his long-range jumpers.
TWEET THAT SPEAKS VOLUMES: A handful of NBA All-Stars filled out NCAA tournament brackets for USA TODAY Sports.
REWIND: The first two NCAA tournament games tipped off last night, with Albany and North Carolina State advancing to the second round.
ON DECK TONIGHT: A look at the rest of the First Four matchups on Wednesday.
— No. 11 Iowa vs. No. 11 Tennessee
— No. 16 Cal Poly vs. No. 16 Texas Southern
Scott Gleeson, a national college basketball writer/digital producer for USA TODAY Sports, is on Twitter @ScottMGleeson.
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