Now it’s time to find out who the real players are.
Who’s going to flounder in the face of adversity? And who’s going to flourish?
Who’s going to step up his game when his team faces elimination? Who’s going to regress?
Who is going to demand the ball and carry his team, and who is going to defer?
We’ll find out soon enough in the NCAA tournament, where toughness—perhaps mental more than physical—almost always trumps talent.
Scoring 30 points in an November exhibition game against Rhode Island State Technical College is one thing; dropping 23 on Arizona in the Elite Eight is another. Getting a triple-double in the consolation round of the Puerto Rico Classic may have seemed like a big deal at the time, but things could be different with the season on the line in a nationally televised game in a sold-out arena.
Here are 25 standouts with the greatest chance to shine during the NCAA tournament. These rankings aren’t solely a reflection on how players performed during the regular season; instead, they’re based more on individual talent, mental toughness, postseason experience, poise in the clutch and versatility.
With the game—the season—on the line, here’s who I’d want on my team.