March Madness 2013: Star Players Who Will Carry Teams to Victory

Tim DanielsFeatured ColumnistMarch 22, 2013

ST. LOUIS, MO - DECEMBER 22: Brandon Paul #3 of the Illinois Fighting Illini drives to the basket against Phil Pressey #1 of the Missouri Tigers during the Bud Light Braggin' Rights game at the Scottrade Center on December 22, 2012 in St. Louis, Missouri.  (Photo by Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images)
Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images

March Madness continues on Friday with 16 more games, finishing the second round of the NCAA Tournament.

One of the biggest factors during the event is star power. The team which has key players that step up in crunch time are going to be around for awhile.

While there are no shortage of options for the second half of the round of 64, certain players such as Mason Plumlee of Duke and Cody Zeller of Indiana didn't make the list because their teams should cruise.

The focus is on stars who will likely be forced to come up big in the clutch.

Let's examine a trio of players who fall into that category for the fourth day of play in the big dance. To watch these players and everybody else who takes to floor throughout the tourney, check out March Madness Live.


Jamaal Franklin (San Diego State)

Franklin does it all for San Diego State. He leads the team in points, rebounds, assists, steals and ranks second in blocks. Few players in the country bring that type of versatility to the floor and the Aztecs need every bit of it.

They face off with an Oklahoma squad that knocked off top-seeded Kansas earlier in the season. The Sooners feature a few talented players of their own in Romero Osby and Steven Pledger, an inside-out duo who will likely work together in an attempt to slow down Franklin.

It won't be an easy task. The junior guard is going to put a boatload of pressure on the Oklahoma defense, both by driving to the rim seeking contact and stepping outside the arc for threes.

A monster game from Franklin appears likely.


Brandon Paul (Illinois)

A season going up against talented Big Ten defenses should pay off for Paul against Colorado. The senior guard is averaging 17 points, four rebounds and three assists per game. He picked up his play down the stretch, upping his scoring to 19 ppg over the last five games.

The biggest key for him on Friday will be finding his stroke from long range. He's a streaky outside shooter. When he's on, however, it forces the defense to play closer to the perimeter, opening up lanes for him to drive or deliver a pass to the post.

Paul showed what he's capable of in a win over Gonzaga back in December. He made five threes en route to 35 points to go along with four rebounds, three steals, three assists and two blocks.

A similar game is possible against the Buffaloes as the Illini move on.


Will Clyburn (Iowa State)

The matchup between Iowa State and Notre Dame features one star player on each side.

Clyburn leads the Cyclones' attack while Jack Cooley controls the paint for the Fighting Irish. In big tournament games, the edge goes to the perimeter player.

Clyburn is a warrior on the court. Not only does he lead the team in scoring at 15 points per contest, but he's always willing to battle for rebounds and is an improved defender. He can also score from anywhere on the court, which will stretch the defense.

It's not hard to illustrate his importance to Iowa State. He averaged 21 points in the team's last three wins and just 10 points in the team's last three losses. Expect one of his good performances on Friday en route to the round of 32.


To keep up with all the NCAA tournament action check out the live bracket or grab the updated printable bracket. Follow all the exciting NCAA tournament games with March Madness Live.