Each year, the NCAA tournament is full of players whose names are etched into the memory of college basketball fans for decades to come. Who's it gonna be this year?
All Your Bracket Essentials:
Guys like Kevin Pittsnogle, Ali Farokhmanesh, T.J. Sorrentine, D.J. Cooper and Sherwood Brown all have their own wing in what is the NCAA tournament hall of fame. They didn't win the national championship, but for for a few weeks, they led their schools to incredible success on a national stage.
Looking at Thursday's schedule, these four players have the best chance of filling those big shoes.
|2014 NCAA Tournament Schedule—March 20|
|Time (ET)||Teams||TV Info||Prediction|
|12:15 p.m.||No. 6 Ohio State||No. 11 Dayton||CBS||Dayton|
|12:40 p.m.||No. 2 Wisconsin||No. 15 American||TruTV||Wisconsin|
|1:40 p.m.||No. 8 Colorado||No. 9 Pittsburgh||TBS||Pittsburgh|
|2:10 p.m.||No. 5 Cincinnati||No. 12 Harvard||TNT||Harvard|
|2:45 p.m.||No. 3 Syracuse||No. 14 Western Michigan||CBS||Syracuse|
|3:10 p.m.||No. 7 Oregon||No. 10 BYU||TruTV||Oregon|
|4:10 p.m.||No. 1 Florida||No. 16 Albany||TBS||Florida|
|4:40 p.m.||No. 4 Michigan State||No. 13 Delaware||TNT||Michigan State|
|6:55 p.m.||No. 7 UConn||No. 10 St. Joseph's||TBS||UConn|
|7:10 p.m.||No. 2 Michigan||No. 15 Wofford||CBS||Michigan|
|7:20 p.m.||No. 5 Saint Louis||No. 12 N.C. State||TNT||Saint Louis|
|7:27 p.m.||No. 5 Oklahoma||No. 12 North Dakota St||TruTV||North Dakota St.|
|9:20 p.m.||No. 2 Villanova||No. 15 Milwaukee||TBS||Villanova|
|9:45 p.m.||No. 7 Texas||No. 10 Arizona State||CBS||Texas|
|9:50 p.m.||No. 4 Louisville||No. 13 Manhattan||TNT||Louisville|
|9:57 p.m.||No. 4 San Diego St.||No. 13 New Mexico St.||TruTV||San Diego St.|
|Sports Media Watch|
Note: All games are available to live stream at March Madness Live.
Stars to Watch
T.J. Warren, North Carolina State
No team galvanized discussion in the way that North Carolina State has. When the Wolfpack were announced as a No. 12 seed, Ken Pomeroy tweeted out that they were listed on only one of the 78 projections at BracketMatrix.com:
N.C. State at least silence a few critics when it beat Xavier to officially book a place in the field of 64.
The man who led the way in that win was T.J. Warren. The star sophomore led all scorers with 25 points, adding five rebounds, two assists and three steals.
Warren has done it all for the Wolfpack this season, finishing the regular season third in the country in scoring (24.8 points) and leading the team in rebounds (7.1) and assists (1.8).
N.C. State can spring a few surprises if Warren is at his best in the early rounds.
David Brown, Western Michigan
Syracuse's 2-3 zone defense is tough for any team to break down, let alone one that cuts its teeth in the Mid-American Conference. Make no mistake about it; if Western Michigan upset the Orange, it will be off the back of David Brown.
The senior guard led the conference in scoring (19.4 points per game) and was the driving force behind the team's run through the MAC tournament.
Brown's shooting ability can help to break down the zone on Friday. He's not what you'd consider a long-range specialist, but he can get into a groove and spark a big run for the Broncos.
Brown is not a player lacking in confidence, per David Drew of The Kalamazoo Gazette:
We have confidence in ourselves and we know that Syracuse is a great ball club. We’re not going to go into this game thinking we’re going to win easily. They’re a top 25 team in the nation. Their coach is an amazing coach. We just have to go in there and stick together as a family and play our best brand of basketball that we can possibly play.
Syracuse should be on upset alert in the third round, and Brown is the biggest reason why.
George Beamon, Manhattan
Almost every storyline heading into the Louisville-Manhattan game is about whether the Cardinals can repeat as national champions, or how much they were shafted by the selection committee.
Getting lost in the shuffle is Manhattan, and specifically George Beamon. The fifth-year senior is averaging 19.2 points and 6.6 rebounds. His leadership will be critical for the Jaspers as they attempt to knock off the defending champs.
In his most recent chat on ESPN.com, Chad Ford called Beamon "one of his favorites" in the NCAA tournament.
"He's long, athletic and though his jumper is ugly, it goes in," Ford added. "A real scoring machine."
Beamon called playing in the Big Dance "a dream come true," per Hoops on CBS:
Beating Louisville would add to the ride.
Daniel Mullings, New Mexico State
There's no question that New Mexico State will want to use its size to bully San Diego State in the post. The player who makes the team go is Daniel Mullings.
The junior guard does a little bit of everything, averaging 16.8 points, 4.9 rebounds, 3.5 assists and 1.9 steals a game.
On average, Mullings takes only 1.9 three-pointers a game, so his style is more of the slash-and-create variety. He's a great athlete who can get into the paint.
Mullings is unlike the players above in that he's not a volume scorer. Regardless, he'll no doubt be flying around the court and a lot of fun to watch.
All stats are courtesy of Sports-Reference.com unless otherwise noted.