March Madness 2012: 10 Unheralded Studs Who Will Light Up This Year's Tourney
Stephen Curry can thank the 2008 NCAA tournament for his rise to stardom. He was a relative unknown, and his performance in the big dance thrust him into the spotlight. Who will be the Stephen Curry of 2012?
Some of these names you might have heard of. Doug McDermott, for example, was a sleeper contender for National Player of the Year. These players may not win a game in the 2012 NCAA tournament, but they will turn heads.
Upsets never hurt Curry, either. His 30-plus points per game in the 2008 tournament led Davidson past Gonzaga, Georgetown and Wisconsin.
Here are the 10 small school studs that will light up the NCAA tournament.
Will Barton, Memphis
Will Barton averages 18.3 points per game for the Memphis Tigers on 51.7 shooting from the field.
Although Memphis hasn't lived up to expectations this year, Barton has. He has increased his point production by six points per game, and his shooting percentage has shot up from 42.8 percent.
Memphis should make the field of 68, and Barton could lead them to a few surprise victories.
If the Tigers finally win a game against a good opponent, it will be because of Barton's hot hand.
Isaiah Canaan, Murray State
Isaiah Canaan averages 19.4 points per game on 48.4 percent shooting from beyond the arc.
Against Austin Peay earlier this year, Canaan dropped 25 points in the first half on 7-of-7 shooting from three.
If that isn't "lighting it up," then I don't know what is. Canaan has led Murray State to a 28-1 record. The Racers will be dancing and have the chance to go deep into the tournament behind Canaan's scoring and leadership.
Mike Glover, Iona
Mike Glover and Scott Machado are one of the better duos in the nation. Machado averages over 10 assists per game, and Glover is the beneficiary.
Glover leads the highest scoring offense in the nation (83.4 points per game), contributing over 18 points per contest.
Iona is loaded with scorers. Lamont Jones dropped 43 earlier this year, and Glover has scored double digits in all but one game this year. Either of these players could step up in the NCAA tournament, which makes Iona a tough out for any team.
Noah Hartsock, Brigham Young
Jimmer Fredette is one year removed from BYU's program, but the Cougars remain a tournament team.
And while Noah Hartsock is no Jimmer, he definitely could keep BYU playing in March. Hartsock averages 16.8 points per game on 56.6 percent shooting.
You'd be surprised to see him drop 30 points in a game, but BYU won't be winning without his 16-plus points a night.
Kerron Johnson, Belmont
Kerron Johnson leads a Belmont team that has quietly put together another great year under Rick Byrd. The Bruins rack up 81.9 points per game, good for third in the nation.
Johnson contributes 14.1 points per game on an efficient 53.1 percent from the field.
Expect Johnson and Belmont to be in one of the more high-scoring games this March.
Doug McDermott, Creighton
Doug McDermott was pegged at the start of the year as one of the best mid-major players in the country.
He hasn't disappointed, averaging 23.1 points per night (third in the nation) on an incredible 60.7 percent shooting. Those aren't all two-point shots, either. He averages 3.1 three-pointers per game, making 47.9 percent of them.
And on the biggest stage, he won't shy away from the limelight.
McDermott hasn't scored under 12 points this year. He fills the stat sheet every night, and the NCAA tournament will be no different.
Dominique Morrison, Oral Roberts
Oral Roberts will most likely need to win their conference to make the Big Dance, but if they do, watch out for Dominique Morrison.
The senior averages 20.3 points per game and creates matchup problems for almost any team with his range (45.1 percent from deep) and size (6'6", 210 pounds).
As a 12- or 13-seed, Oral Roberts could upset the four- or five-seed that they are matched up against. If they do, look for Morrison to be at the helm.
John Shurna, Northwestern
Northwestern may not make the NCAA tournament. But John Shurna will not be the reason why.
Shurna averages 20.1 points per game, and his unorthodox play style makes him difficult to guard for any team. The senior has averaged over 15 points per game since his sophomore year.
Shurna's athleticism won't surprise you, but his point total at the end of the game might. He is integral to the success of Northwestern and their tournament hopes.
Casper Ware, Long Beach State
He's 5'10". He shoots a mediocre 41.3 percent from the field.
But Casper Ware can light up the scoreboard as well as anyone on this list, and he steps up on the big stage. Against North Carolina, Ware led all scorers with 29 points. In Long Beach State's upset over Pittsburgh earlier in the year, Ware once again led all scorers with 28 points.
Long Beach State is not a team you would want to see in the first round. Ware will lead the 49ers' charge in the NCAA tournament with his scoring ability.
Khalif Wyatt, Temple
In Temple's 78-73 win over Duke on Jan. 4, Khalif Wyatt scored 22 points on 8-of-12 shooting from the field. On the year, Wyatt averages 17.4 points per game.
Wyatt can shoot lights-out from anywhere on the floor. Temple is a shoe-in for the NCAA tournament but will need to shoot well to advance. Shooting well is Wyatt's forte, and if he gets hot, Temple will be tough to beat.