UNC Basketball

NCAA Tournament 2013: Players Who Must Step Up in Round of 32

DURHAM, NC - FEBRUARY 13:  James Michael McAdoo #43 of the North Carolina Tar Heels looks to throw the ball inbounds against the Duke Blue Devils during their game at Cameron Indoor Stadium on February 13, 2013 in Durham, North Carolina.  (Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)
Streeter Lecka/Getty Images
Kyle NewportFeatured ColumnistMarch 24, 2013

A trip to the Sweet 16 is on the line this weekend, and James Michael McAdoo leads the list of players who must step up in order for their teams to advance.

Eight spots remain up for grabs heading into Sunday's slate of games. On paper, there are a lot of mismatches that will take place. However, nothing matters except what happens on the court during the game.

The favorites look like they are poised to advance, so the underdogs need big performances out of key players. 

With the first weekend of the tournament coming to a close, it's time for stars to make their mark. 

Here is a list of players who join McAdoo as players who need to step up on Sunday.

 

 

James Michael McAdoo, North Carolina

North Carolina faces a tough challenge in Kansas. Not only do they have to face a No. 1 seed in the round of 32, but they have to play the Jayhawks in Kansas City.

The Tar Heels are clicking on offense since moving to four guards in early February. They have been held to under 70 points only twice since then.

P.J. Hairston has turned into the team's leading scorer since joining the lineup, and Reggie Bullock has been just as good. Both players shoot around 40 percent from three-point range, and Bullock's 43.8 percent was one of the best in the ACC.

Those two shooters will be important for the Tar Heels, but McAdoo needs to be a big factor.

In last year's Elite Eight against Kansas, McAdoo had one of his best games of the season. He shot 6-of-8 and had 15 points. He added four rebounds in limited action.

Now he has to be a dominant force. As the only big man on the court for the Tar Heels, he will be expected to go head-to-head with Kansas center Jeff Withey. The center is a force on the boards and can swat any shot.

North Carolina needs to make its three-pointers, but McAdoo needs to hold his own down low. He hasn't had over 20 points in three weeks, and he has only topped five rebounds once during that stretch. 

 

 

Tyrus McGee, Iowa State

The Cyclones have a tough task on Sunday as the have to face Ohio State in Dayton. If they want to have any chance to pull off the upset, Tyrus McGee needs to have a huge game.

McGee is arguably the team's best shooter, and the Cyclones don't have much trouble putting up points. Ohio State likes to shut down opposing offenses, so Iowa State needs its perimeter shooters to be on the mark.

Since making six three-pointers in back-to-back games at the end of February and beginning of March, he has made only eight in six games and shot 38 percent from deep. The senior has not topped 14 points since that hot streak, so he is due for a big game. 

The Buckeyes have the ability to win in a defensive battle or in a shootout, but the Cyclones need to turn it into a high-scoring game.

Ohio State has so many weapons to choose from, but Iowa State needs a big performance out of its senior in order to stay in the game. If McGee is able to get going from beyond the arc, the Cyclones could pull off the upset.

 

 

Trevor Mbakwe, Minnesota

The Golden Gophers have a chance to pull off the upset against the Florida Gators, and Trevor Mbakwe could make it easier for his teammates by having a monster game.

When he is on, his team is near impossible to beat. Minnesota is 7-3 when he records a double-double, and it is 3-0 when he scores at least 16 points in the same game.

The senior was one point away from a double-double in the team's win over UCLA on Friday (game recap via ESPN.com). 

Mbakwe averages nearly 10 points and nine rebounds per game this season, so he is always flirting with a double-double. The Golden Gophers need him to have a big day on the boards and get some points as well if they have any chance of winning.

Unlike the previous two underdogs mentioned, Minnesota doesn't have to face a team in a virtual road game. This game will be played in Texas, so it will be more neutral than the other games.


*All stats are from ESPN.com

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