NCAA Tournament 2014: The All-Tournament Team Through Round of 32
CBS could give us one helluva "One Shining Moment" montage just from the opening weekend.
The tournament has not disappointed thus far and neither have the stars. A couple of weeks ago, my colleague, Jason King, and I had a tough time trying to figure out the 15 players to make our All-American team. Many more were deserving. Well, that was nowhere near the challenge of trying to pick the five best guys from the opening weekend.
Adreian Payne dropped 41 points in one game, and for a brief moment, I considered leaving him off this all-tourney team.
Easy, Michigan State fans. He made it. Payne and these other four guys have been the most impactful and productive players through the round of 32.
Honorable Mention: Nick Johnson, Arizona; Scottie Wilbekin, Florida; Aaron Harrison, Kentucky; Jordan Adams, UCLA
Jarnell Stokes, Tennessee, PF, Junior
By the Numbers: Jarnell Stokes has three double-doubles in the tournament, and he's not just barely getting them either. He went for 18 points and 13 rebounds against Iowa, 26 points and 14 rebounds against UMass and 17 points and 18 boards against Mercer.
Shining Moment: Stokes is really slacking. He got outrebounded by Mercer...as in, it took the entire team to outrebound the big fella, 19-18. In addition to his 17 points and 18 rebounds, he also dished out five assists against Mercer. He manhandled those poor Bears.
Next up: Stokes has a chance to put up big numbers again against Michigan's undersized frontline. For the Vols to move on, they'll need big games from Stokes and Jeronne Maymon.
Xavier Thames, PG, San Diego State, Senior
By the Numbers: San Diego State needs Xavier Thames to score, and the senior point guard has delivered thus far in the tourney, averaging 26.5 points. He's also done a good job distributing the ball with five assists in each game.
Shining Moment: Thames dominated North Dakota State, scoring 30 points and handing out five assists. Seven of his nine buckets were of his own creation, as the Bison could not stop Thames off the dribble, knocking down pull-up jumpers. When he's making those shots, he's almost impossible to defend.
Next up: Thames and San Diego State get a rematch against Arizona. The Wildcats beat the Aztecs on their home floor in November. Thames scored 19 points in that game, but he was only 5-of-16 from the floor and had three turnovers.
DeAndre Kane, Iowa State, PG, Senior
By the Numbers: Want clutch? DeAndre Kane scored or assisted on 15 of Iowa State's final 17 points in the comeback win over North Carolina. For the game, Kane had a complete line with 24 points, 10 rebounds and seven assists. He's averaging 19 points, 6.0 assists and 8.5 rebounds for the tournament.
Shining Moment: Kane's game-winning layup in the final seconds to beat the Heels. He controlled the game from start to finish, and it was appropriate that the senior point guard was the one to finish it off.
What's Next: Possibly the best positional matchup we'll see in this tournament as Kane goes up against UConn's Shabazz Napier. Napier was a Bleacher Report first-team All-American. We had Kane on the third team. Had we waited a few weeks, Kane may have joined Napier on the first team.
Shabazz Napier, PG, Connecticut, Senior
By the Numbers: Shabazz Napier carrying UConn on his back? Yep, we've seen this all season. Napier is averaging 24.5 points in the tournament, and he was the difference in knocking off second-seeded Villanova. Napier scored 25 points against the Wildcats, knocking down nine of 13 shots, including all five of his attempts inside the arc.
Shining Moment: Napier buried Villanova with three straight three-pointers late in the second half on Saturday night. He then hurt his leg and had his Willis Reed moment, limping back into the game and then blowing by the Nova defense shortly thereafter for an acrobatic dagger layup.
Next up: Napier faces his toughest challenge of the season, going up against Iowa State's DeAndre Kane. Napier hasn't played against a bigger or more physical point guard all year. He'll need to outduel Kane for the Huskies to have a shot.
Adreian Payne, C, Michigan State, Senior
By the Numbers: Adreian Payne came back to earth in the round of 32 after dropping 41 points in the opening game against Delaware. Thanks to that opening performance, Payne is averaging 26.5 points per game in the tournament. His most impressive stat: 21-of-22 from the free-throw line.
Shining Moment: When he couldn't miss against Delaware. The Michigan State big man made six of 10 twos, 4-of-5 from distance and all 17 of his freebies. Payne broke the NCAA record (16) for most free throws made in a game without a miss.
What's Next: A matchup against one of the best defenses in the country (Virginia) and one of the best interior defenders (Akil Mitchell). Payne has two inches on Mitchell, but Mitchell is one of the few big men in the country athletic enough to compete with the Michigan State senior.
C.J. Moore covers college basketball for Bleacher Report. You can follow him on Twitter @CJMooreBR.
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