NCAA Tournament 2013: Each Region's MVP Through Day 6
The 2013 NCAA tournament has lived up to the name of "March Madness." Six days in, we've cut the field to 16 and witnessed quality players become NCAA tournament stars.
With the field split into four brackets, however, we must ask: Which players have been the MVPs of their respective regions?
Some players have made a living in the clutch moments, stepping up to provide the baskets or defensive stops to decide the outcome of respective games. Other players have padded the stat sheet, putting up numbers that anyone could marvel.
Regardless of how they've done it, the following players have been nothing short of sensational.
Midwest Region: Russ Smith, Louisville Cardinals
When it comes down to it, there is a two-man race for the Midwest Region MVP award. The two candidates are Damyean Dotson of the Oregon Ducks and Russ Smith of the Louisville Cardinals.
So who takes home the honors?
Dotson has been sensational, leading Oregon to two improbable upsets. With an average of 20.0 points per game, Dotson has been the driving force behind double-digit victories over No. 5 Oklahoma State and No. 4 Saint Louis.
Undeniably MVP-worthy, but does it exceed Smith's quality of play?
Through two games, Smith is averaging 25.0 points, 2.5 assists and 4.0 steals per game. He's also posting a slash line of .548/.455/.786.
The numbers say Smith, while the quality of wins says Dotson. The question is, what do you feel speaks louder to one's "value?"
This writer is in favor of Smith, and here's why—only one other Cardinals player has scored at least 12 points in a 2013 NCAA tournament game.
South Region: Jeff Withey, Kansas Jayhawks
Our hearts want to tell us that the entire Florida Gulf Coast team deserves this award. Among Sherwood Brown, Bernard Thompson and Brett Comer, there are certainly enough players deserving of the honor.
With that being said, no individual has been as dominant in the South Region as Jeff Withey of the Kansas Jayhawks.
Trey Burke has been superb, but Withey has been performing at a different level. Through two games, Withey has been No. 1 Kansas' best offensive and defensive player.
Thus far, Withey is averaging 16.5 points, 11.0 rebounds, 1.5 assists and 6.0 blocks—yes, 6.0 blocks.
Ben McLemore, meanwhile, is 2-of-14 from the field during the NCAA tournament. That includes an 0-for-9 outing against North Carolina.
Others have been great, but Withey is on a different planet right now.
East Region: Vander Blue, Marquette Golden Eagles
When it comes to the East Region, no player has come up quite as big as Vander Blue of the Marquette Golden Eagles. Not only did he hit the game-winning layup during the round of 64, but he drained a game-tying three with 1:29 remaining in Marquette's game against Butler in the round of 32.
Through two games, Blue already has two game-deciding baskets. That's far from the end of the story.
Thus far in the 2013 NCAA tournament, Blue is averaging 22.5 points per game. He's done so on 46.7 percent shooting from the floor, 50.0 percent from beyond the arc and a perfect 12-for-12 on free throws.
How far Blue will be able to lead Marquette is unclear. What is certain, however, is that if the tournament ended today, Blue would be the East Region's MVP.
The numbers and clutch performances speak for themselves.
West Region: Ramon Galloway, La Salle Explorers
Ramon Galloway has led the La Salle Explorers to three NCAA tournament victories. That includes a play-in game victory over Boise State, a round of 64 upset over No. 4 Kansas State and a win over SEC tournament champion and No. 12 Ole Miss.
In that time, Galloway is averaging 21.3 points, 4.0 rebounds, 3.7 assists, 1.0 steal and 1.0 block per game.
Not only is Galloway producing at a prolific level, but he's doing so with efficiency. Galloway is shooting 48.7 percent from the field, 52.2 percent from three and a perfect 100 percent from the charity stripe.
Three upsets, an improbable run to the Sweet Sixteen and MVP-caliber numbers—what more could you ask for?
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