Sweet 16 2013: Predicting Thursday and Friday's Top Scorers

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Sweet 16 2013: Predicting Thursday and Friday's Top Scorers
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There may not be an "I" in "team," but there are plenty of them in "Explosive, entertaining scorers who we love to watch."

And in the Sweet 16, there are going to be a heap of players capable of putting on a show and making us run to Twitter, saying, "This guy is good at basketball."

If that's something you might be interested in, here's a look at three players with deliciously tasty matchups on Thursday and Friday.  

 

3. Ramon Galloway, La Salle

Just because.

Don't let its barrage of three balls down the stretch against Gonzaga fool you. Wichita State is a strong, physical, defensively-minded squad that likes games in the 50s. 

The Shockers are 218th in America in possessions per 40 minutes and 29th in defensive efficiency.

But Gregg Marshall's boys are susceptible from beyond the arc, ranking 86th overall in three-point field-goal percentage defense (32.3 percent) and 247th in opponent three-point field-goal point percentage. 

What that means is that the Shockers allow opponents to score a larger percentage of their points from three-point range than 246 other teams. 

That's not a distinction you want to have against the Explorers, who play four guards at a time, shoot a scorching 37.7 percent from long range and get 32.0 percent of their offense from out there (51st most in America).

The man most likely to take advantage of those discrepancies is Galloway, who is a red-hot 12-of-23 from deep in the tournament. 

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La Salle's ultra-talented senior, who has seen all of one minute on the bench in the last two games, is in line for a massive day from the outside. 

 

2. Russ Smith, Louisville Cardinals

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So far this tournament, "Russdiculous" hasn't meant "You literally have no idea what this guy will do next" as much as it has meant "dangerously efficient from the field." Smith is shooting 17-of-31 overall and 5-of-11 from three-point range for 50 points in two blowout wins. 

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As long as he's playing at that level, there are very few teams in America capable of keeping things close with Louisville.

And there is literally no way he isn't making his way onto this list. 

Against Oregon, the potential for a massive scoring outburst becomes even greater.

How many points will Russ Smith score against Oregon?

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Louisville, as you might have heard by now, runs a defense that is basically Shaka Smart's HAVOC press on steroids. The Cardinals will force as many turnovers as possible and get transition buckets regularly. 

Oregon will have no problem abiding to that style. The Ducks not only average a speedy 70.1 possessions per 40 minutes, but they have a turnover rate that is the 268th worst in America. 

Don't be surprised if the Ducks play Dominic Artis (6'1") and Johnathan Loyd (5'8"), both point guards, at the same time to help calm things down. But that just means Smith, who has never seen a shot he doesn't like, will be able to easily rise up for more jumpers, in addition to whatever fast-break points he racks up. 

 

1. Ben McLemore, Kansas Jayhawks

Unlike the first players on the list, McLemore is ice-cold. 

The star freshman went 2-of-5 from the field against Western Kentucky for 11 points before shooting a sizzling 0-of-9 against North Carolina for a whopping two points. 

But call this my "regression to the mean" pick.

On the season, McLemore is shooting 49.4 percent from the field, 41.6 percent from three-point range and 87.0 percent from the line, making him one of the most efficient, deadly outside scorers in America. 

His picture-perfect mechanics and gaudy athleticism have brought on endless comparisons to Ray Allen. 

While Michigan has been stout defensively in its two tournament wins, the Wolverines have been inconsistent on that side of the court all season and don't have a player that is capable of slowing down a determined McLemore.

All advanced statistics via kenpom.com (subscription required).

 

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