NCAA Tournament 2013: Players Who Will Steal the Show Friday

Justin HussongContributor IIIMarch 22, 2013

LAS VEGAS, NV - MARCH 16:  Shabazz Muhammad #15 of the UCLA Bruins drives around Damyean Dotson #21 of the Oregon Ducks during the Pac-12 Championship game at the MGM Grand Garden Arena on March 16, 2013 in Las Vegas, Nevada.  (Photo by Jeff Gross/Getty Images)
Jeff Gross/Getty Images

Day one of March Madness provided its fair share of shocking moments. In day two, the stars will come out to play.

The schedule today features more big-time players than we saw yesterday, with many guys capable of taking over games. In March, it can be difficult for stars to shine bright as defenses clamp down more than ever to ensure that teams must go to their second and third options.

There were not any 30-point performances on Thursday, but there are a handful of guys who could break that threshold Friday.

Shabazz Muhammad

Amidst reports in the Los Angeles Times that he has been lying about his age, UCLA's star freshman is gearing to take on Minnesota in what will almost assuredly be his only NCAA tournament game.

UCLA is a trendy upset pick with fellow star freshman Jordan Adams out with a broken foot. The Bruins will have a tough time adjusting to his absence unless Muhammad can step up and show why he is so special on a national stage.

Adams is the team's second leading scorer. Without him in the Pac-12 title game against Oregon, Muhammad saw constant double teams and was denied the ball. He finished 5-for-13 from the field for only 14 points. For UCLA to move on to the round of 32, it will need Muhammad to step up and overcome that in a big way.

Brandon Paul

The Illinois senior guard has been a force all season in the Big Ten.

Although he can be very hot and cold at times, Paul is on a roll heading into Illinois' first-round matchup with Colorado. He is fresh off a huge buzzer-beater against Minnesota and will be a handful for Buffalo guards Spencer Dinwiddie and Sabatino Chen. That pair has not seen many guards as talented as Paul in the Pac-12, aside from Muhammad and Cal's Allen Crabbe.

If Colorado clamps down on Paul and does not allow him to get his shot off at will, he has the ability to become a willing passer and dissect the defense in different ways.

He is one of the most important pieces for any team on Friday. If Paul throws up a clunker, Illinois is done. It will need a huge performance from him, and he appears poised to give one.

Lamont Jones

Two No. 15 seeds took down heavily favored No. 2 seeds in last year's tournament. I'm not saying it is going to happen again, but you should look out for Iona.

Jones was the third leading scorer in the nation at 23 points a game. He has the ability to give Ohio State a huge scare even with lock-down defender Aaron Craft pestering him all night.

The Arizona transfer has his Gaels primed to make a game out of a No. 2 vs. No. 15 matchup that no one will pay a whole lot of attention to. Jones can get hot from the outside very quickly, and with his team full of shooters, the last thing the Buckeyes want is for a contagious outside shooting onslaught to develop.

Doug McDermott

McDermott is one of the absolutely most talented scorers in the country. If you were to place a bet on who could drop 40 points Friday, there likely wouldn't be a name worth mentioning ahead of the Creighton star junior.

He struggles creating his own shot, but McDermott can flat-out shoot. He shoots 56 percent from the field, 50 percent from three and 86 percent from the line.

Cincinnati will look to pressure him on the perimeter and force him to drive, but few teams have been able to slow him down this season. He is able to rack up points many different ways, and that is what makes him so special.