- March Madness begins with Selection Sunday on March 17.
- Across the country, college basketball fans are preparing for the most unpredictable event in sports.
- From mid-major standouts to future superstars, these are the players we’re most excited to watch in March Madness.
March Madness is upon us.
On Sunday 68 selected teams enter the bracket that will be predicted millions of times by college basketball fans across the country.
While the joys of a bracket pool are many, what makes March Madness truly special is the basketball, and this year there’s no shortage of fantastic players to follow along with while watching at home.
For those who are looking for a sleeper superstar to fit into an upset or just want to know who you should be keeping an eye on throughout the tournament, below are 21 players we can’t wait to watch play in the NCAA tournament.
21. Kyle Guy — Virginia
One thing to know: Kyle Guy was a part of the top-ranked Virginia team that lost stunningly in the first round of the 2018 tournament to UMBC. Now a junior, Guy is still a leader for the Cavaliers and will be a big factor in how far Virginia makes it on their run at redemption.
20. Bruno Fernando — Maryland
One thing to know: Sophomore forward Bruno Fernando has averaged a double-double for Maryland this season. Wildly athletic, he’s capable of making huge game-changing plays on both sides of the court and is a strong centrepiece to the Terrapins defence.
19. Jon Teske — Michigan
One thing to know: Center Jon Teske is a big boy, measuring 7-foot-1 and 260 pounds. If the Wolverines need a stop in a critical moment, Teske will be the one to step up.
18. Cassius Winston — Michigan State
One thing to know: Junior guard Cassius Winston is one of the best passers in college basketball and serves as the lead conductor for Tom Izzo’s offence. His vision helps create some unreal assists, all while Winston still scores an average of 19 points per game.
17. Bryce Brown — Auburn
One thing to know: Auburn will live or die by the three during their run through the NCAA tournament this year, and chances are the Tigers will go as far as Bryce Brown’s jumper can carry them. Shooting 40% from beyond the arc, opponents will have to keep an eye on Brown no matter where he’s spotting up on the court.
16. Dedric Lawson — Kansas
One thing to know: Dedric Lawson was a double-double machine for Kansas all season, averaging 19 points and 10.4 rebounds per game for the Jayhawks. Kansas streak of 14 consecutive Big 12 conference titles may have come to an end, but Lawson and his team could still make a ton of noise in the tournament.
15. Jarrett Culver — Texas Tech
One thing to know: Jarrett Culver has led Texas Tech to two of its best seasons since the 1990s. The Red Raiders made it to the Elite Eight last year, and with a few big games from Culver, look prepared to make another deep run this March.
14. Elijah Childs — Bradley
One thing to know: As his picture shows, Elijah Childs isn’t afraid to get up and protect the basket. Bradley defeated 2018’s Cinderella team Loyola-Chicago twice this season – could they steal a bit of their magical run and carry it into this year?
13. Ethan Happ — Wisconsin
One thing to know: Another walking double-double, senior forward Ethan Happ has put up 17.8 points and 10.4 rebounds per game this season for Wisconsin. The Badgers have made it to the Sweet 16 four consecutive seasons, including a Final Four appearance in 2014 and national championship appearance in 2015. If they make another deep run in the tournament, chances are it will be Happ leading the way.
12. Carsen Edwards — Purdue
One thing to know: Carsen Edwards is a fearless 3-point shooter whose play can make or break Purdue on any given night. He’s gone 0-for-10 from beyond the arc, and he’s gone 7-for-11. If his shot is falling come March Madness time, the Boilermakers will be a tough out.
11. DJ Laster — Gardner-Webb
One thing to know: DJ Laster was dominant in the Big South Championship for Gardner-Webb, scoring 30 of the Runnin’ Bulldogs’ first 44 points and finishing the game an incredible 14-of-17 from the floor. The senior’s career-best game meant that he got to play another one, leading Gardner-Webb to their first-ever NCAA tournament.
Whoever they play in the first round will be heavy favourites, but if Laster has another complete takeover in him, anything can happen.
10. PJ Washington — Kentucky
One thing to know: While they don’t sport the big names of the Duke Blue Devils, Kentucky has gone 26-5 this season and remains one of the best teams in college basketball thanks in large part to PJ Washington, who leads the team in points and rebounds.
9. Caleb and Cody Martin — Nevada
One thing to know: Caleb and Cody Martin are twins, and together, the duo has led the Nevada Wolfpack to two straight Mountain West titles. Averaging a combined 30 points per game, the Martins will have opponents seeing double throughout the tournament.
8. Admiral Schofield — Tennessee
One thing to know: Senior Admiral Schofield helped take Tennessee from a 15-19 record in his freshman year to being the top-ranked team in the country at one point this season. In his final games with the Volunteers, he’ll be leaving it all on the court.
7. Tacko Fall — UCF
One thing to know: At 7-foot-6, Tacko Fall is an impossible player to ignore when he’s on the court and makes any game against UCF a nightmare for offenses hoping to operate below the basket. Regardless of how far the Knights make it in the tournament, with Fall, every one of their games will be must-see television.
6. Markus Howard — Marquette
One thing to know: Junior guard Markus Howard is 5-foot-11, but has been one of the most exciting players to watch in college basketball all season. The Big East Player of the Year has a whopping nine 30-point games this season and could cause chaos in the tournament.
5. CJ Massinburg — Buffalo
One thing to know: CJ Massinburg put the college basketball world on notice in his second game of the season, scoring 43 points and going 9-of-15 from beyond the arc to lead Buffalo past No. 13 West Virginia in overtime. The Bulls have lost just three times this season, and should not be underestimated heading into the tournament.
4. Rui Hachimura — Gonzaga
One thing to know: Rui Hachimura is another NBA prospect that basketball fans will be paying attention to this March. If he can help guide Gonzaga on a solid run to the Final Four or further, he could see his draft stock rise even higher.
3. Cameron Johnson — UNC
One thing to know: While arch-rival Duke and its trio of superstars have gotten the lion’s share of national media attention in college basketball this year, senior guard Cameron Johnson has led the UNC Tar Heels to an impressive run through the season behind his 16.8 points per game and 47.2% 3-point shooting. The one-and-done players might get the most headlines, but Johnson has shown all season that experience has its advantages.
2. Ja Morant — Murray State
One thing to know: Ja Morant captured national attention at Murray State this year with his prolific scoring and strong play, jumping up NBA draft boards to become a consensus top-4 pick, with many picking him to be selected with the second overall pick. The Racers will be an underdog through the tournament, but Morant will have many believing in a potential Cinderella run.
1. Zion Williamson — Duke
One thing to know: After missing six games due to an injury sustained when his shoe exploded against UNC,Williamson returned to the court for the Blue Devils against Syracuse for their first game of the ACC tournament and showed no signs of slowing down, shooting 13-13 from the floor to finish with 29 points and 14 rebounds.
When things get wild in March, there’s no player we’re more excited to watch.
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