NCAA Tournament 2013: Stars Who Must Step Up in Saturday's Round of 32 Action

Patrick ClarkeCorrespondent IMarch 23, 2013

AUBURN HILLS, MI - MARCH 21:  Trey Burke #3 of the Michigan Wolverines drives in the first half against South Dakota State Jackrabbits during the second round of the 2013 NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament at at The Palace of Auburn Hills on March 21, 2013 in Auburn Hills, Michigan.  (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)
Gregory Shamus/Getty Images

The 2013 NCAA tournament's round of 32 will tip off on Saturday afternoon, as 16 teams battle for eight spots in the Sweet 16.

In addition to giving teams a berth in the regional semifinals, Saturday's games will provide several star players with an opportunity to redeem themselves following poor second-round showings on Thursday. 

Below we'll break down a trio of stars who must step up to help their teams advance on Saturday.


Vander Blue, Marquette

It's hard to criticize Marquette's Vander Blue for hitting the game-winning layup against 14-seeded Davidson in the round of 64 on Thursday. However, to be fair, the junior guard didn't play his best game and will have to be better against Butler in Lexington on Saturday night.

It won't be enough for Blue to score 16 points on 33 percent shooting against the battle-tested Bulldogs this weekend. He'll need to be much more efficient and more of a factor on the glass, as he reeled in just two rebounds against Davidson.

Blue has proven to be a cool customer, especially after Thursday's dramatic layup, but he needs to show up and provide a presence earlier in the game for the Golden Eagles on Saturday.

So long as he is taking smart shots and looking to crash the glass on defense, Blue is too talented not to post an impressive stat line and help his team advance to the Sweet 16 for the third straight year.


Trey Burke, Michigan

Michigan is lucky to have advanced to the round of 32 after star point guard Trey Burke finished two-of-12 from the floor with just six points in Thursday's second-round win over 13th-seeded South Dakota State.

A National Player of the Year candidate, Burke is averaging over 19 points and nearly seven assists per game this season, and he will need to post similar numbers on Saturday against fifth-seeded VCU if the Wolverines are going to advance to the Sweet 16.

The sophomore sensation can't afford to go zero-of-five from beyond the arc against the Rams, or else Big Blue will be going home much earlier than expected. 

Fortunately for Michigan, Burke was still able to get his teammates involved on Thursday, recording seven assists, but he's got to be more aggressive and get to the foul line more often. He attempted just two free throws against the Jackrabbits in the round of 64.

If Burke can find his rhythm against VCU early on Saturday afternoon, Michigan will have a great shot to reach the Sweet 16 for the first time in nearly two decades. 


Elias Harris, Gonzaga 

No. 1 seed Gonzaga survived a scare from Southern in the round of 64 on Thursday in spite of the play of senior forward Elias Harris.

Harris scored the first two points of the game for the Bulldogs, but he would finish with just five total on two-of-10 shooting from the floor. Harris, who has averaged 14.6 points and 7.5 rebounds per game this season, will have to be more of a factor offensively for the Zags on Saturday against a dangerous Wichita State squad.

This is a player who averaged 20 points per game over his last three games coming into the tournament, and Gonzaga will need him to rediscover that rhythm in order to reach the Sweet 16 for the first time since 2009.

Kelly Olynyk and Kevin Pangos delivered on Thursday in Salt Lake City, combining for 37 points. But now it's up to Harris to carry his weight against the ninth-seeded Shockers this weekend.


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