NCAA Tournament 2013: Taking a Look at the Top Players of Each Region
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Great players come through on the biggest stages, and the NCAA tournament is where stars work their magic. With the madness now underway, it is time to take a look at the best players of each region in this year's field.
The Big Dance gives rising stars—and even unknown heroes—a chance to prove their worth. Each region of the tournament holds some truly special and gifted athletes.
Having a star player does not necessarily mean guaranteed success. When the game is on the line, however, the best players rise to the occasion.
Here are three players in each region to keep an eye on during the NCAA tournament.
Seth Curry, Duke: Many remember how Seth Curry's brother, Stephen, made a name for himself by taking Davidson to the Elite Eight in 2008. If the Blue Devils are going to make a deep run in the Big Dance, it will be due to this sharp-shooting senior.
Curry averaged 17 points per game in the regular season and hit 43 percent of his shots from behind the arc. He should be taking the big shots for this team as the Blue Devils aim to add another title to Mike Krzyzewski's resume.
Marcus Smart, Oklahoma State: This freshman phenom has an amazing all-around game. Smart leads the Cowboys in scoring (15.4 PPG) and assists (4.2 per game). He also was No. 2 in the entire country in steals per game during the regular season with nearly three per contest.
The Cowboys have a tricky matchup against the Oregon Ducks in Round 2, but they stand a good chance of winning if Smart can help his team win the turnover battle.
Doug McDermott, Creighton: McDermott finished the regular season No. 2 in the country in scoring (23.1 PPG) while shooting an impressive 56 percent from the field. He is one of the most complete offensive players in college basketball.
The junior forward can work his way to the foul line as well as light it up from three-point land. McDermott gives the Bluejays a strong chance of getting past the Cincinnati Bearcats in Round 2 of the tournament.
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Deshaun Thomas, Ohio State: The 6'7" junior is a big reason for the Buckeyes' success this season. Thomas led the Big Ten in scoring during the regular season at 19.5 points per game. He is also a fairly strong rebounder (6.2 per game) and hit an effective 84 percent from the free-throw line this season.
Though Thomas struggled shooting the ball in the last two games of the conference tournament, he has scored in double digits every game this season.
Marshall Henderson, Ole Miss: Henderson made himself known during this year's SEC tournament, which the Rebels won. He scored at least 21 points or more in all three conference tournament games, while taking the majority of the team's shots.
Henderson's 20.1 points per game average was tops in the SEC this season. The Rebels have a very tough matchup against the Wisconsin Badgers in Round 2 of the tournament. Henderson will need to have a huge game for the Rebels to pull off a shocker.
Kelly Olynyk, Gonzaga: The main reason why the Bulldogs are a No. 1 seed in the tournament is because of Olynyk. At 7'0", this forward does so much for the 'Zags on offense and defense.
He is the leading scorer on the team, dropping 17.5 points per game this season. He also rebounds well (7.2 per game) and is blocking 1.2 shots per game for the Bulldogs. Olynyk will be an extremely difficult player to match up with for any opposing team in the tournament.
Otto Porter, Georgetown: The 2013 Big East Player of the Year is one of the best all-around players in college basketball. Porter plays great defense, always hustles and knows when to shoot. During the regular season, he averaged 16.3 points and 7.4 rebounds per game, both team highs.
He notches nearly two steals per game and surprisingly shoots nearly 43 percent from three-point land. Porter will carry the Hoyas on his back and gives them a chance to go far in the Big Dance.
Trey Burke, Michigan: The Wolverines had a stellar season due in large part to the play of this talented point guard. Burke is able to manage the game while shooting effectively and dishing out a handful of assists.
He led the Big Ten in assists by a large margin with 6.7 a game. He was also one of the best scorers in the conference, chipping in 19.2 points on average. The Wolverines have a very tough road ahead, but it certainly helps to have a floor general like Burke.
Ben McLemore, Kansas: McLemore is an extremely exciting player to watch, especially when he is around the rim. This superb freshman has had an incredible season for the Jayhawks.
He leads the team in scoring with 16.4 points per game and is hitting a remarkable 51 percent from the floor. McLemore can be deadly from three-point territory (44 percent) and has thrown down some monstrous dunks this season. The Jayhawks can make a deep run if this freshman gets hot.
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Victor Oladipo, Indiana: The Hoosiers have a ton of firepower on their roster, and it starts with Oladipo. The junior guard has been absolutely phenomenal this season. He was No. 1 in the Big Ten in both field-goal percentage (60 percent) and steals (2.2 per game) during the regular season.
He is a fantastic finisher around the rim and is also a great defender. Just like Dwyane Wade did with Tom Crean and the Marquette Golden Eagles in 2003, Oladipo has the talent to lead IU to the Final Four this time.
Khalif Wyatt, Temple: Wyatt is a really crafty scorer and is great at drawing fouls. He can knock down jumpers and can also dish out assists (4.2 per game). This senior guard led the Atlantic 10 in scoring at just under 20 points per contest.
Wyatt usually plays at his best against top competition, scoring 33 points in a win over the Syracuse Orange, 26 against the Kansas Jayhawks and 30 in a win over the VCU Rams. The Owls could surprise the N.C. State Wolfpack in Round 2 if Wyatt plays well.
James Southerland, Syracuse: The Orange are a much better team offensively when Southerland is hitting his shots. He spreads the floor for the 'Cuse with his ability to drain deep three pointers.
Southerland was magnificent in the Big East tournament knocking down 19 three-point shots, a new conference record. He averages nearly 14 points per game, while hitting over 40 percent from downtown. Southerland will need to hit some big shots for the Orange in the Big Dance.
Expect these players to perform like stars in the NCAA tournament. With so many upsets during the regular season, this tournament is bound to be an epic one.
There is so much talent in this year's tournament that viewers are certainly in for a good treat. Each region has legitimate title contenders, setting the stage for upsets and crazy finishes.
Legacies are built through memorable performances in the Big Dance, giving some of these young stars the opportunity to be remembered forever.
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