The first round of the 2013 NCAA tournament tips off on Tuesday, as four teams attempt to advance to the round of 64.
On Tuesday, North Carolina A&T will take on Liberty, and St. Mary's will battle Middle Tennessee. On Wednesday, LIU Brooklyn will face off with James Madison, and La Salle will clash with Boise State.
This is the time when the difference-makers step up, and the pretenders give way. Here's a look at the players I see lifting their respective teams to the next round.
Adrian Powell, F, North Carolina A&T
Liberty ranks 147th in opponents' field-goal percentage and 281st in defensive efficiency. Look for North Carolina A&T senior forward Adrian Powell to take advantage of that fact.
Powell has averaged 12.5 points this season while shooting 36 percent from downtown. He scored in double figures in his last four games (including a 23-point output against Delaware State) en route to leading the Aggies to the MEAC title.
Matthew Dellavedova, G, St. Mary's
Not only do many expect St. Mary's to advance past Middle Tennessee in the first round, the Gaels are widely considered to have a shot at upsetting No. 6 seed Memphis in the round of 64.
A big reason for that sentiment is the Gaels' offense, led by senior guard Matthew Dellavedova. St. Mary's ranks fourth in the country in offensive efficiency. Dellavedova is averaging a team-high 15.8 points while shooting 37 percent from beyond the arc and 88 percent from the free-throw line.
Middle Tennessee has the defense to make life tough for Dellavedova and company, but I expect the senior leader to rise to the occasion.
Devon Moore, G, James Madison
James Madison has suspended leading scorer Rayshawn Goins for the first half of its game against LIU Brooklyn on Wednesday after he was arrested on Sunday night, according to Scott Gleeson of USA TODAY Sports.
The good news for the Dukes? They still have senior guard Devon Moore, as well as senior forward A.J. Davis.
Moore is averaging 11.6 points, 4.9 assists, 3.7 rebounds and 1.3 steals this season while shooting 49 percent from the floor and 40 percent from downtown. Whenever he has received a decent amount of shots this season, he has almost always capitalized.
Another thing: LIU Brooklyn ranks 312th in defensive efficiency and 324th in opponents' field-goal percentage.
I expect Moore to have a big day, even with Goins sitting out the first half.
Anthony Drmic, G/F, Boise State
Senior Anthony Drmic has emerged as a force for Boise State this season, averaging 17.6 points while shooting 46 percent from the field and 39 percent from downtown.
Drmic has scored in double figures in his last seven games and scored a combined 43 points against San Diego State in his last two games.
La Salle ranks 285th in opponents' field-goal percentage and 111th in defensive efficiency. That could mean a big game for Anthony Drmic.
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