10 Mid-Major Stars Ready to Grab the Limelight in March Madness
Selection Sunday is less than three weeks away.
College basketball teams from across the country are gearing up for the last stretch of conference play, intense competition in their respective league tournaments and, hopefully, a ticket to the Dance: the 2013 NCAA Tournament.
Here is a quick look at the top 10 mid-major stars who are ready to burst onto the national scene and grab the limelight during March Madness.
Stats provided by ESPN.com.
10. Raheem Appleby (Louisiana Tech)
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The 6’3” guard can fill it up. In the Bulldogs' opening game of the season, he put up 20 points against SEC-foe Texas A&M.
In his most recent conference game, Appleby hit seven-of-12 threes and scored 28 points against Idaho.
9. Marcos Knight (Middle Tennessee Blue Raiders)
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Middle Tennessee is one of those teams that has a bunch of ballers, all of whom could go off at any moment.
As a 6’2" guard, Marcos Knight leads the Blue Raiders in both scoring (12.6 PPG) and rebounding (5.7 RPG).
Earlier this season, Knight went for 23 points and nine rebounds against Arkansas State.
8. Jake Cohen (Davidson Wildcats)
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Big Jake Cohen is a versatile PF who can work down low or step outside and rain down shots from beyond the arc. Think of a similar skill set to that of Duke’s Ryan Kelly.
Earlier this season, in spite of only seeing 19 minutes of action against the Blue Devils, Cohen scored 19 points and grabbed eight rebounds.
Last season as a junior, the 6’10” Wildcat scored 24 points and grabbed 10 rebounds against Louisville in the opening round of the NCAA Tournament.
Cohen will be ready to shine again as a senior facing his “last hurrah” as a collegiate player.
7. Zeke Marshall (Akron Zips)
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Akron’s Zeke Marshall is one of the best shot-blockers (3.5 BPG) and shooters (65.5 FG%) in the nation. He is No. 5 in both categories.
The seven-foot center averages 12.6 PPG and 6.8 RPG, and he was just short of a triple-double earlier this year against Toledo when he scored 18 points and posted eight rebounds and nine blocks.
His length and mobility help him to be a frightening frontcourt defender.
6. Ian Clark (Belmont Bruins)
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Belmont’s Ian Clark is one of the best pure shooters in college basketball.
Clark is connecting on 54.5 percent of his field goals, 82.1 percent of his free throws and 47.3 percent of his shot attempts from beyond the arc.
The 6’3” guard averages 18.4 points per game and has tallied at least 30 points in three games so far this season.
5. Carl Hall (Wichita State Shockers)
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Carl Hall is one of the strongest inside players in college hoops.
He is finally getting back into shape after having midseason surgery.
Hall is the Shockers' top rebounder (7.2 RPG) and No. 2 scorer (12.5 PPG).
The 6’8" PF put up an impressive double-double (17 points, 13 rebounds) when WSU beat Creighton.
4. Mike Muscala (Bucknell Bison)
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Mike Muscala is one of the most versatile big men in the country. He has a nice inside/outside game.
The 6’11", 240-pound center leads the Bison in scoring (19.4 PPG), rebounding (11.3 RPG) and blocks (2.5 BPG), and he is a few assists shy of being their assists leader (2.5 APG).
He has put up 19 double-doubles, including a 29-point,19-board outing against Columbia.
Earlier this season, ESPN college basketball analyst Jay Bilas included Muscala on his list of the best big men in the nation.
3. Matthew Dellavedova (St. Mary's Gaels)
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Matthew Dellavedova is one of the best all-around point guards in college basketball.
Dellavedova is averaging 16.1 PPG, 3.2 RPG and 6.2 APG.
He has been a Bob Cousy Award finalist twice.
SportsIllustrated.com's Kelli Anderson reports that:
Dellavedova will depart St. Mary's this spring with the school's career assists record (710 and counting); the career three-pointer record (262 and counting), and most likely, the career scoring record.
2. Doug McDermott (Creighton Bluejays)
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Doug McDermott is the kind of player who can throw his teammates on his back and carry them a long way in the NCAA Tournament.
McDermott is the No. 4 scorer in the country (22.4 PPG) and is shooting 54.2 percent from the field, 85.5 percent from the charity stripe and 48 percent from beyond the arc.
But, the 6’8" combo forward is more than just a scorer. He also averages 7.6 rebounds and 1.8 blocks per game.
Creighton hasn't had nearly the season (22-7; 11-5 MVC) that many expected. But with their talent, depth and experience, the Bluejays have a chance to make a run in March.
1. Kelly Olynyk (Gonzaga Bulldogs)
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Kelly Olynyk is a unique person and an excellent player.
The fact that he is letting his hair grow for the rest of the season comes as no surprise.
Olynyk is a surprisingly mobile player, scoring 17.7 points per game and grabbing seven boards per game.
Many people questioned his decision to redshirt last year. Now, he looks like a genius.
ESPN's Jay Bilas said this about Olynyk:
The big man came to Gonzaga as a skilled face-up shooter, and after a redshirt season has transformed into one of the most efficient back-to-the-basket scorers in the country.