Sometimes it’s not the superstars who shine brightest at the NCAA Tournament, it’s the lesser known players that prove to make the biggest difference. Here are some names to watch out for come tournament time.
A.J. English- G, Iona
English is one the most underrated athletes in the college game. He sits amongst the top -10 in the country with 22.4 points per game. English is going to make teams very uncomfortable with his playmaking ability. He’s never had a chance to shine on collegiate basketball’s biggest stage, so you can bet on him to put on a show during Iona’s stay at the Big Dance.
Marshall Plumlee- C, Duke
Plumlee isn’t a flashy player, and he doesn’t have to be. Duke can rely on Grayson Allen and Brandon Ingram for the razzle dazzle and top-notch scoring. Plumlee is the teams gritty big man that averages 8.3 points and 8.8 rebounds. With Amile Jefferson still feeling the effects of a broken foot, Plumlee must shoulder the bulk of Duke’s inside game. His physicality will make the Blue Devils a more well-rounded team.
Ben Bentil- F, Providence
A lot of the college basketball world tends to associate Providence with Kris Dunn. However, it’s Bentil that led the team in scoring (21.2 points per game) during the regular season. Only a sophomore, Bentil still has some of his best playing to do, but he’s been just so good this season
Bentil and Dunn up one of the most lethal duos in the nation. The rest of the field needs to be on high alert for the Friars.
Jabari Bird- G, California
Jabari Bird has arguably been Cal’s best player over the season’s stretch run. The Golden Bears won eight of their final nine regular season games to guarantee themselves a spot in the NCAA Tournament. Bird scored in double figures in seven of those games. It’s no secret that his play is a big reason why Cal will be in the Tourney, and it needs to continue for them to have a shot at making a deep run.
Chris Horton- F, Austin Peay
The Governors of Austin Peay have already had a Cinderella postseason, as they knocked off the 1st seeded Belmont and second seeded Tennessee-Martin in the Ohio Valley Conference Tournament. Horton’s contributions played a major role in the upsets, as he averaged 14 rebounds over the four game run. Teams are going to have to find a way to keep Horton off the glass, especially on the offensive end, and if they can’t the Austin Peay Cinderella run might continue.
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