NCAA Bracket 2012 Predictions: 5 Players Who Will Steal Your Heart
During the recent years of March Madness, players like Stephen Curry, Gordon Hayward and Ali Farokhmanesh have captivated audiences nationwide and stolen viewers' hearts.
This year will be no different, as several players could emerge from the realms of the unknown to superstardom in just a few games. Some players are on mid-major teams that will be vying for upsets, while others are just very likable and fun to watch.
Every team dreams of cutting down the nets, and these five players will try to lead their teams to glory while simultaneously becoming the country's most adored athletes.
Isaiah Canaan (Murray State)
Isaiah Canaan and his Murray State squad are legit. The Racers received a six seed in the West region, but the one-loss team from the Ohio Valley is a real threat due to its floor general.
Canaan, a junior, leads Murray State in scoring at 19.2 points per game, and connects on 3.1 three-pointers per contest. He does so much more than just score, as he is also a defensive catalyst for the Racers.
While most college basketball fans know who Murray State is, the majority has no clue of just how good and dangerous this team can be in the tournament. Canaan will look to lead the Racers to an exciting run, and he definitely could become a fan favorite in the process.
Matthew Dellavedova (Saint Mary's)
Matthew Dellavedova has played over 3600 minutes in his three-year career at Saint Mary's, and his experience will be key in his team's success in March. He is a scorer and passer, averaging 15.6 points per game to go along with 6.4 assists per game on the season.
Dellavedova is bound to be a hit in the tournament; his style of play is relentless and he isn't afraid of taking the last shot. The Gaels will play Purdue in their first game of the tournament, and the Boilermakers are a team that will give Saint Mary's a fight.
If a game comes down to the wire for Saint Mary's, expect the ball to be in Dellavedova's hands, and expect that ball to hit nothing but net.
Chase Tapley (San Diego State)
San Diego State has been ranked throughout the season, something that comes as a bit of a surprise given that the Aztecs lost Kawhi Leonard, Malcolm Thomas, D.J. Gay and Billy White from last year's outstanding team. Jamaal Franklin is their leading scorer, but March Madness viewers are more likely to love watching Chase Tapley play.
Tapley, a junior shooting guard, is a lethal shooter from distance, averaging 2.2 three-pointers per game at a 43.3 percent rate. He was a role player on last year's team, but head coach Steve Fisher has to be incredibly pleased with his star player's output this season.
Tapley and San Diego State are legit, so don't be surprised if they put together a run that lasts deep into March and maybe even early April.
Casper Ware (Long Beach State)
Casper Ware, two-time reigning Big West Player of the Year, will look to lead his Long Beach State 49ers to great heights in his senior season. He and his teammates form a very talented and potent squad that could make noise and bust brackets this March Madness.
Ware can score effectively, as he averages 17.4 points per game on the year, and loves to shoot from three-point land (7.7 attempts per game). If he catches fire, the 49ers can be extremely difficult to stop. He is coming off of a 33 point effort in the Big West tournament final against UC-Santa Barbara, a game in which he connected on eight three-pointers.
If Ware's most recent performance tells us anything it is that he's not quite ready to finish his collegiate career. A Sweet Sixteen run is definitely in sight for Long Beach State, and Ware will do everything in his power to make sure the 49ers don't go down without a fight.
Cody Zeller (Indiana)
Cody Zeller may not even be the best Zeller participating in March Madness (see: brother and ACC Player of the Year Tyler), but he is definitely going to be popular amongst NCAA tournament viewers.
Indiana's stellar freshman has revitalized a program that badly needed a trip back to the Big Dance. Zeller averages 15.5 points per game and 6.4 rebounds per game, while shooting an incredible 62.6 percent shooting from the field.
Zeller and his strong supporting cast have already knocked off the likes of Kentucky, Ohio State, Michigan and Michigan State this season, so it's safe to say that the Hoosiers can play with and beat any team in the nation.
If they do put together a deep tournament run, Zeller will be a household name when March Madness comes to a close.