Sweet 16 Predictions: Stars Who Will Shine Brightest

Joseph ZuckerFeatured ColumnistMarch 26, 2013

Mar 24, 2013; Kansas City, MO, USA; La Salle Explorers guard Ramon Galloway (55) passes the ball in the second half of the game against the Mississippi Rebels during the third round of the NCAA basketball tournament at the Sprint Center. La Salle won 76-74. Mandatory Credit: Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports
Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports

Ramon Galloway, you have a chance to enter rarefied air.

La Salle has been one of the biggest surprises of the tournament. First the Explorers upset the No. 4 seed Kansas State Wildcats. Then came a win against the Ole Miss Rebels to get La Salle its first Sweet 16 berth since 1955, when Tom Gola prowled the Explorers' backcourt.

Similarly, it's been another guard who's sparked the school's run through March.

Galloway has taken his game to a new level. In La Salle's three tournament games, he's averaged 21.3 points, 4.0 rebounds and 3.7 assists. Not to mention those 21.3 points have come on 53.7 percent shooting.

Even if La Salle falls to the Wichita State Shockers, you can be sure Galloway will put on a good show.

Here are three players who will star for their respective teams and likely fare much better than Galloway.



Russ Smith, Louisville Cardinals

Russ Smith has played exactly as you'd expect a star to perform in the NCAA tournament. He hasn't shied away from the stage. If anything, Smith has been invigorated by it.

He put up 23 points in Louisville's first game, but that's to be expected when the Cardinals are playing against a No. 16 seed. Much more impressive was the 27 points he scored against Colorado State. The Rams simply didn't know how to deal with him.

Despite what they've done in the tournament, the Oregon Ducks weren't a great defensive team. They're giving up an average of 63.2 points a game, 86th in the country.

The Ducks are there to be exploited by Smith.



Deshaun Thomas, Ohio State

Ohio State hasn't been a great team offensively, often fluctuating up and down. One of the biggest factors in the Buckeyes' success has been the consistency of Deshaun Thomas. He's failed to score below 11 points in a game this season.

Thomas has been extremely efficient so far in the tournament. He's hit 61.5 percent of his shots, including 71.4 from three-point range.

Arizona has been very strong so far. The Wildcats underwhelmed during the regular season, but they've saved their best basketball for March.

The Buckeyes don't have a ton of scorers. Much has been made of Aaron Craft, but he's not a consistent scorer. Thomas is going to need to continue carrying the majority of the scoring load if OSU is to make the Elite Eight.



Seth Curry, Duke

Both Duke and Michigan State's post players could even out in terms of effectiveness. Both the Spartans and Blue Devils have dominant players who's production will cancel each other out, leaving the guards to make the difference.

Unfortunately for Michigan State, it doesn't have a player who can match Seth Curry. He has made a major jump in production from last year to this year. His play is a large part of why the Blue Devils find themselves in the Sweet 16.

For a team that relies so heavily on the three-pointer, it's imperative that Curry finds his stroke from long range.



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