NCAA Men's Tournament 2021: The All-Tournament Team Ahead of the Sweet 16
Through two rounds of the 2021 NCAA men's basketball tournament, the best performers have included a mix of well-known players, small-school stars, top teams and surprises.
Even in losses, Iowa's Luka Garza and LSU's Cameron Thomas put together a strong set of games. No. 1 seeds Gonzaga and Michigan both have a prolific player, while standouts on double-digit seeds Syracuse and Oral Roberts have demanded attention too.
While the choices are subjective, key factors are total production and overall impact through the round of 32. Team results are also mentioned but not a large consideration.
Cameron Thomas, LSU
During the opener against St. Bonaventure, Thomas poured in 27 points and dished three assists. He followed up that showing with a game-high 30 points in a close loss to Michigan. The impressive end to his freshman year should have solidified the 6'4" guard as a first-round pick if he declares for the 2021 NBA draft.
Eli Brooks, Michigan
The 6'1" guard is a major reason Thomas and LSU went home. Although he's mostly been a complementary piece, the senior showed up in Isaiah Livers' absence. He collected 11 points, six rebounds, five assists and two steals against Texas Southern and then amassed 21 points and seven assists to help Michigan beat LSU. So far, he's knocked down 8-of-15 three-point attempts.
Johnny Juzang, UCLA
UCLA limped into March Madness on a four-game losing streak (including the conference tourney), but Johnny Juzang has provided a perfectly timed spark. After scoring 23 points in the overtime win against Michigan State in a First Four game, the Kentucky transfer netted 27 opposite BYU and put up 17 on Abilene Christian. The 6'6" guard has buried three triples in each contest.
Evan Mobley, USC
In case you needed any more evidence, the Pac-12 Player of the Year and potential top-three NBA draft pick has backed up his billing. The 7-footer has amassed 27 points, 24 rebounds, seven assists and six blocks in victories over Drake and Kansas.
Luka Garza, Iowa
Though the loss to Oregon is a crushing way to end his college career, Garza hardly could have provided more for Iowa. He totaled 60 points while hitting 63.9 percent of his shots, including a 7-of-9 mark from three, with 15 rebounds and three steals. Garza will likely win National Player of the Year honors.
First Team: Buddy Boeheim, Syracuse
Given that he entered the NCAA tournament with a 37.3 percent three-point clip, it's no surprise Buddy Boeheim has thrived from the perimeter. But he's absolutely scorching right now.
He hit 7-of-10 three-point attempts in the win over No. 6 San Diego State, finishing with 30 points and four rebounds. During the upset of No. 3 seed West Virginia, the sharpshooter drilled 6-of-13 triples for a game-best 25 points and added two steals.
Syracuse's road continues against No. 2 Houston, which boasts the fifth-lowest three-point percentage allowed in the nation.
First Team: Max Abmas and Kevin Obanor, Oral Roberts
Oral Roberts is only the second No. 15 seed to reach the Sweet 16 since the tournament expanded to 64 teams in 1985, joining 2013 Florida Gulf Coast. Max Abmas and Kevin Obanor have taken full advantage of their time in the spotlight.
Abmas racked up 29 points in the upset of No. 2 Ohio State and then blitzed Florida for 26 points and seven assists. Obanor tallied 30 points and 11 rebounds against Ohio State and followed with 28 points, 11 rebounds and four steals on Florida.
Between them, Abmas and Obanor have combined to shoot 16-of-36 from three and 29-of-34 at the free-throw line.
Next up for ORU is a showdown with No. 3 Arkansas on Saturday and the next player on the first-team list.
First Team: Justin Smith, Arkansas
Moses Moody is the leading scorer and top NBA prospect, but Justin Smith has propelled Arkansas into the Sweet 16.
The versatile forward had an enormous game in the first round against Colgate. He accumulated 29 points, 13 rebounds, five steals and two blocks.
Not only did Smith score a team-high 20 points opposite Texas Tech, he also made a key defensive play. Smith forced Kyler Edwards into a contested layup in the final seconds, preventing a game-tying shot and securing the 68-66 win.
Smith's all-around impact will be vital in Arkansas' goal of ending the Cinderella run of Abmas, Obanor and Oral Roberts.
First Team: Jeremiah Robinson-Earl, Villanova
Entering the NCAA tournament, Villanova had a couple of built-in excuses. After losing star guard Collin Gillespie to a season-ending MCL injury, the Wildcats also had a tough draw against one-loss Winthrop. They could've faded immediately.
Jeremiah Robinson-Earl ensured that wouldn't happen.
Winthrop had no answer for the sophomore, who went for 22 points, 11 rebounds, six assists and three blocks. Robinson-Earl then guided Villanova past North Texas—which had already upset Purdue—with 18 points, six rebounds and six assists.
The 6'9" forward is preparing for a massive test in the Sweet 16, where the Wildcats will take on top-seeded Baylor on Saturday.
First Team: Cameron Krutwig, Loyola-Chicago
For the second time in four years, Loyola of Chicago has reached the Sweet 16. In 2018—when Cameron Krutwig was a freshman—the Ramblers made it all the way to the Final Four.
But this time, it wouldn't be a Cinderella story.
Krutwig had a modest 10-point, five-rebound performance in a first-round victory over Georgia Tech. In the upset of top-seeded Illinois, however, he absolutely shone. The center collected 19 points, 12 rebounds, five assists and four steals.
Loyola's next contest is opposite No. 12 Oregon State, which has upset Tennessee and Oklahoma State. If Krutwig plays at that level again, though, Loyola will be a victory away from another Final Four trip.