It’s almost with us. That crazy month of college basketball that been with us for over 6o years now.
It grips hoop fans all across the country for weeks on end as the 68 teams are eventually whittled down to the two who will be battling it out on April 3rd.
Already, there’s huge speculation about who will be victorious. Could it be Houston, Kansas or Purdue or even UCLA who would hit a round dozen titles if they make it? The March Madness predictions are already in full swing with many sports bettors getting their wagers in early to secure the best odds.
We don’t know, any more than anyone else does, who will win. But we can be sure that these ten players could make a big difference to their respective teams.
Drew Timme, Gongaza
With a current average of 22 points per game Timme has improved on his last season’s figure of 18.4 PPG. His invaluable contribution helped the Zags reach their No.1 seed position last year and this year he is also proving to be a real game-changer for the team. So confidence must be high that this could well be Gongaza’s year.
Zach Edey, Purdue
There’s no way that the 7 foot 4 inch Canadian won’t make a big impression on the court. And now that Trevion Williams is no longer part of the Purdue line-up it’s really put him in the spotlight. With 21.5 points per game, it’s certainly suiting him as he dominates the frontcourt in every game that he plays.
Oscar Tshiebwe, Kentucky
Kentucky’s 2021-22’s player of the year, “The Big O” is another very imposing presence on the court. He sees one of his key roles to be the rebound king and last year his stated aim was to average 20 points a game. He may not quite have managed that only reaching 15.1 but his dynamic performances mean that he can expect to improve on this figure this year.
Armando Bacot, North Carolina
During his time at North Carolina, Bacot has cemented a reputation as one of the greatest players the team has ever had. Many put the team’s resurgence last season down to his influence. He’s also helped by the fact that he’s surrounded by a squad of strong players who create a solid and impressive unit around him.
Jaime Jacquez Jr., UCLA
Now a senior, JJJ is poised to make the move up to the NBA. But he would surely like to take UCLA to become champions before he departs. He’s the kind of player whose work can go un-noticed, but it’s invaluable all the same. That’s why the Bruins depend on him for perfect passing and the sort of defending that frustrates opponents and makes them start to make major mistakes.
Hunter Dickinson, Michigan
Predicted to be a second round pick in the 2023 draft, Dickinson has some very solid seasons behind him at Michigan. At 7 foot 1 inch he’s a tough one for opponents to handle but has a surprisingly soft touch when it comes to scoring baskets. Plus, he can score either right- or left-handed and has obviously benefited from training by a very similar ex-player, Juwan Howard.
Trayce Jackson Davis, Michigan
The intensity and ferocity that Jackson-Davis brings to his play helps to make the most of his talents which saw him average 18.3 points and 8.1 rebounds last season. He also helped to see the Hoosiers to their first NCAA Tournament appearance for six years. If he has a weakness it’s that he most dangerous in scoring positions and might need to expand his game.
Marcus Sasser, Houston
Despite having his 2021 season cut short by a foot injury that needed surgery that, happily, is all behind him now. Last season he averaged 17.7 points on 43.7% 3-point shooting and is doing marginally better this year. With Houston firm favorites for the championship this season he’s certain to be one of the key players in their bid for victory
Keyonte George, Baylor
What he lacks in height at a mere 6 foot 4 inches, George more than makes up for in strength and controlled aggression. He’s quick and capable of explosive action – and if his miss rate is relatively high, that’s just because he makes so many shots.
Caleb Love, North Carolina
Love truly excelled in last year’s March Madness with 28 points against Duke in the Final Four and 30 against UCLA in the Sweet 16. So here’s hoping that he’ll get the chance to show off his abilities again at the sharp end of the season.
Of course, there are many more players we could highlight. But, for our money, these are the best of the best. Now let’s see which ones shine in the playoffs.