Three Players To Watch In The NCAA Tournament
It must be March. The Spurs have 50 wins, NFL teams are shelling out drunk-Kardashian levels of cash on free agents and Albany bros are wreaking some holiday havoc. Oh yeah, its also tournament time! Here are three game-changing players with the sort of tantalizing talent that can single-handedly swing a bracket.
Tony Snell, New Mexico
The junior sparked the Lobos to the Mountain West Conference championship with his blistering perimeter shooting. Snell is one of the hottest shooting guards in basketball. Over his last five games, he’s averaging 19.8 points on a barrage of threes (4.4 per night) at an efficient clip (56%). His lanky, 6-7 frame and his Forrest Gump-inspired philosophy on moving without the ball translate to plenty of good looks. If Snell keeps up his torrid pace, New Mexico will be every bit as tough as Gonzaga and Ohio State in the West Region.
Michael Carter-Williams, Syracuse
When Carter-Williams is in attack mode, he’s one of the most dangerous guards in the country. The Big East’s regular season leader in assists (7.7 per game) and steals (2.7), MCW posses a rare blend of vision, quickness, and length. When he plays with poise and pace, Syracuse and their stable of long athletes look almost unbeatable. When Carter-Williams forces contested threes, carelessly dribbles into traffic and commits costly turnovers, the Orange look lost. With their hard-earned victory over Georgetown in the Big East semifinal, Syracuse proved that their late season malaise hasn’t effected their post-season outlook. MCW will dictate if the Orange can make a deep run through March.
Marcus Smart, Oklahoma State
The Midwest Region’s designation as “the group of death” has been highlighted by a trio of college hoops titans- Louisville, Duke, and Michigan State- that all somehow wound up in the same quadrant of the bracket. Marcus Smart and the Oklahoma State Cowboys will help keep the tone consistently morbid. Smart is one of college basketball’s rarest commodities, a cerebral, polished lead guard with a physically imposing frame (6-4, 225). Smart’s all-around floor game (he’s one of the country’s most physical rebounders out of the backcourt) and willingness to take crucial shots make him the most dangerous player in the Midwest. Don’t be shocked if Smart carries the Cowboys out of the region.