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NCAA Tournament Preview: Hidden Gems, No Longer

Andrew M. Laird

Andrew M. Laird

Andrew M. Laird is the Senior Soccer Editor for RotoWire, as well as a fantasy football and college basketball contributor.

The NCAA Tournament is one of the craziest times of the year, and this is an especially crazy year in college basketball. Top-ranked teams have fallen like flies for months, and analysts everywhere have used the word "parity" like they're getting a dollar each time they do so. With plenty of opportunities for upsets, it's important to know who will be leading the charge when a double-digit seed takes down one of the big boys.

Below is a rundown of all double-digit seeds in this year's NCAA Tournament and the players most likely to lead them to victory.

(Note: advice based on a cumulative points/rebounds/assists/steals/blocks set up)

Onto the Madness Makers:

MIDWEST REGION

Sean Kilpatrick, Guard, No. 10 Cincinnati
Second Round Opponent: No. 7 Creighton
Possible Third Round Opponent: No. 2 Duke/No. 15 Albany

Prior to his 2-for-12 shooting performance against Georgetown during the Big East tournament, Kilpatrick had been a consistent performer for the Bearcats. The All-Big East Second-team guard posted some big numbers this year, including 29 points against North Carolina A&T on Nov. 18, 32 against Iowa State on Nov. 23 and 36 against Marquette on Jan. 19. While Cashmere Wright and JaQuon Parker also have played well for Cincinnati, Kilpatrick is the one who will have to perform if the Bearcats are to advance.

Marcos Knight, Guard, No. 11 Middle Tennessee State

First Round (Play-In Game) Opponent: No. 11 St. Mary's
Possible Second Round Opponent: No. 6 Memphis
Possible Third Round Opponent: No. 3 Michigan State/No. 14 Valparaiso

Middle Tennessee State won 21 of 22 games before losing to Florida International in the Sun Belt Conference tournament with an extremely well-balanced offense that saw seven players average at least 6.2 points per game. Knight topped the list at 12.5 but also averaged 5.8 rebounds, 2.4 assists and 1.2 steals per game, the former of which led the Blue Raiders. Middle Tennessee State was a surprising at-large bid and faces a tough St. Mary's team, but if it is going to advance, Knight will be a factor.

Matthew Dellavedova, Guard, No. 11 St. Mary's

First Round (Play-In Game) Opponent: No. 11 Middle Tennessee State
Possible Second Round Opponent: No. 6 Memphis
Possible Third Round Opponent: No. 3 Michigan State/No. 14 Valparaiso

The good news is Dellavedova is capable of putting up some big numbers on the stat sheet, as evidenced by the 32 points he scored against Drexel on Nov. 22, his 31-point, six-rebound, eight-assist effort against Jackson State on Dec. 11 or the 21 assists he dished out at the end of January against San Diego and Pepperdine in back-to-back games. Unfortunately, he's in a terrible shooting slump, going 8-of-38 in his last three games. He's still recorded 25 assists and 11 rebounds over that span, but if St. Mary's is going to make some noise, Dellavedova has to snap out of his funk.

Arsalan Kazemi, Forward, No. 12 Oregon

Second Round Opponent: No. 5 Oklahoma State
Possible Third Round Opponent: No. 4 Saint Louis/No. 13 New Mexico State

The Ducks tied for second during the Pac-12 regular season and then won the conference tournament, so a 12-seed is clearly not what they had in mind. They are a well-balanced scoring team with six players averaging at least 8.5 points per game. In instances like this, it's important to start looking around at what other stats players can provide, and Kazemi is that guy. Averaging 9.3 points, 9.5 rebounds and 2.1 steals per game, the senior forward has had a few big rebounding games this season, including 13 games with at least 11 boards. He recorded a 12-12 against UCLA in the Pac-12 championship and should be expected to hit the glass hard again Thursday against Oklahoma State.

Sim Bhullar, Center, No. 13 New Mexico State

Second Round Opponent: No. 4 Saint Louis
Possible Third Round Opponent: No. 5 Oklahoma State/No. 12 Oregon

Bhullar enters the NCAA Tournament after posting consecutive doubles-doubles: a 14-point, 10-rebound, three-block performance against Texas State and then a 16-point, 15-rebound, five-block game against Texas-Arlington in the WAC tournament championship. The freshman center has had some big rebounding games this season, which shouldn't be too surprising given the fact that he's 7-foot-5, 355. It's early in his college career, but with that size, he'll be a tough cover for whomever he matches up against.

Ryan Broekhoff, Forward, No. 14 Valparaiso

Second Round Opponent: No. 3 Michigan State
Possible Third Round Opponent: No. 6 Memphis/No. 11 St. Mary's/No. 11 Middle Tennessee State

Broekhoff finished the season third in scoring (15.9 points per game) and second in rebounding (7.3 rebounds per game) in the Horizon League (leading Valpo in those categories), while also adding 2.3 assists and 1.0 steals per game. He led the conference in free-throw percentage at 88 percent and is the clear cut statistical leader for a team that heads into the NCAA Tournament having lost only seven games all year (including only one since Feb. 1). Broekhoff has been a bit up-and-down recently, scoring 21, seven, 25 and seven points in his last four games, respectively, but he's still recorded multiple rebounds and assists over that span.

Mike Black, Guard, No. 15 Albany

Second Round Opponent: No. 2 Duke
Possible Third Round Opponent: No. 7 Creighton/No. 10 Cincinnati

Black has done a solid job this season of getting a mark on most lines in the box score, averaging 15.0 points (fourth in the America East), 3.3 rebounds, 2.5 assists and 1.0 steals per game. With nine games scoring at least 20 points, Black has shown that he can put the ball in the basket too. Albany doesn't have a ton of big numbers on the stat sheet, but you'll be sure to find Black at the top of it.

Adrian Powell, Guard, No. 16 North Carolina A&T

First Round (Play-In Game) Opponent: No. 16 Liberty
Possible Second Round Opponent: No. 1 Louisville
Possible Third Round Opponent: No. 8 Colorado State/No. 9 Missouri

Powell led the Aggies in scoring (12.5 points per game) and steals (1.8 per game) this season, while getting better recently, averaging 15.3 points and 5.0 rebounds over his last four games. Entering the NCAA Tournament at 19-16, the Aggies face a tough test against No. 1 overall seed Louisville (if they get past Liberty), so it's difficult to expect a long run for Powell or teammate Austin Witter, who is doing a little bit of everything this season, averaging 6.3 points, 7.1 rebounds, 2.1 assists, 3.0 blocks and 0.9 steals per game.

John Caleb Sanders, Guard, No. 16 Liberty

First Round (Play-In Game) Opponent: No. 16 North Carolina A&T
Possible Second Round Opponent: No. 1 Louisville
Possible Third Round Opponent: No. 8 Colorado State/No. 9 Missouri

Davon Marshall may have won the Big South Conference tournament MVP, but Sanders is the stat filler at whom fantasy players should be looking. Averaging 14.2 points, 4.0 rebounds and 3.5 assists on the season, Sanders has stepped it up for the Flames during their current five-game winning streak, averaging 16.8 points, 4.8 rebounds and 4.0 rebounds over that span. One thing to keep in mind is that Liberty was 10-20 before their five-game run, so it's tough to expect much from the Flames in the NCAA Tournament.

WEST REGION

Will Clyburn, Guard, No. 10 Iowa State

Second Round Opponent: No. 7 Notre Dame
Possible Third Round Opponent: No. 2 Ohio State/No. 15 Iona

Clyburn was working on a nice three-game stretch for the Cyclones before struggling against Kansas in the Big 12 Conference tournament, shooting 2-for-8 and finishing with only eight points and five rebounds. Prior to that, he posted 20 points, five rebounds and five assists against then-No. 13 Oklahoma State, 27 points at West Virginia and then 17 points and eight rebounds in a win over Oklahoma. He has seven double-doubles this season and averages 15.0 points, 7.1 rebounds and 2.1 assists per game, making him the most versatile option on the roster.

Ian Clark, Guard, No. 11 Belmont

Second Round Opponent: No. 6 Arizona
Possible Third Round Opponent: No. 3 New Mexico/No. 14 Harvard

Clark finished third in the Ohio Valley Conference in scoring at 18.1 points per game, but he's had a difficult time lately contributing elsewhere on the stat sheet. He's scored 14, 13, 26 and 11 points in the last four games but has only four assists and 12 rebounds in that span. One could make the argument that J.J. Mann, who had 18 points and seven rebounds against Murray State in the conference championship game should be the pick here, but if Belmont is going to advance, Clark likely will be the one who leads the way.

Marshall Henderson, Guard, No. 12 Mississippi

Second Round Opponent: No. 5 Wisconsin
Possible Third Round Opponent: No. 4 Kansas State/No. 13 Boise State/No. 13 LaSalle

Henderson is one of the elite scorers in the country, as well as one of the best antagonizers to wear a college basketball uniform. Often playing up to opposing crowds, Henderson has had some of his best games against top teams. He is one of only 14 players in the country to average at least 20 points per game, and he's eclipsed 25 in 10 games this season. Mississippi is a fashionable pick to knock off Wisconsin in the tournament opener -- Henderson is the reason why.

Anthony Drmic, Guard-Forward; Derrick Marks, Guard, No. 13 Boise State

First Round (Play-In Game) Opponent: No. 13 LaSalle
Possible Second Round Opponent: No. 4 Kansas State
ossible Third Round Opponent: No. 5 Wisconsin/No. 12 Mississippi

Drmic and Marks play into the different strategies of fantasy basketball. Drmic is the more consistent of the two, scoring at least 20 points in six of the last seven games. He also averaged 4.0 rebounds per game in that span, so he's not only concerned about putting the ball in the hoop. Marks, on the other hand, is the one with tremendous scoring upside, as evidenced by the 35 points he put up against Creighton on Nov. 28, the 27 against New Mexico on Jan. 16, or the 38 against Colorado State on March 2. If you're looking for consistency, Drmic is the call; if you're willing to chance it on an explosive offensive performance, Marks could be your secret weapon.

Ramon Galloway, Guard, No. 13 LaSalle

First Round (Play-In Game) Opponent: No. 13 Boise State
Possible Second Round Opponent: No. 4 Kansas State
Possible Third Round Opponent: No. 5 Wisconsin/No. 12 Mississippi

The Explorers have four players who average double-digit points, but if you're going for the most upside, Galloway is your guy. Unfortunately, fantasy owners will have to hope that his 4-for-22 shooting slump is behind him and that he's returned to his 20-point scoring days of only two weeks ago. Galloway has posted some impressive numbers this season and leads LaSalle in scoring. If he can find his touch again, he could be a solid contributor. Tyreek Duren and Tyrone Garland have played better lately, but Galloway has the higher ceiling of the three.

Wesley Saunders, Guard/Forward, No. 14 Harvard

Second Round Opponent: No. 3 New Mexico
Possible Third Round Opponent: No. 6 Arizona/No. 11 Belmont

While it's not exactly a hotbed of college basketball, there are some decent players in the Ivy League, and Saunders may be the best. He led the league in scoring (16.5 points per game), steals (1.9 per game) and free-throw attempts (189) while being extremely consistent, scoring in double figures in every contest this year. There were only three games all season that he didn't record at least two rebounds or assists, and he's filled the sheet against some quality opponents, such as St. Joseph's on Nov. 11 (18 points, nine rebounds, three assists), Connecticut on Dec. 7 (14 points, three rebounds, four assists) and St. Mary's on Dec. 31 (14 points, five rebounds, five assists) before the Ivy schedule hit.

Lamont Jones, Guard, No. 15 Iona

Second Round Opponent: No. 2 Ohio State
Possible Third Round Opponent: No. 7 Notre Dame/No. 10 Iowa State

The No. 3 scorer in the country at 23.0 points per game, Jones is capable of putting up some monster numbers in the scoring column. He had six games this season with at least 30 points, including 35 against Loyola (MD) on March 1 and 33 against Canisius on March 9. The MAAC Player of the Year battled flu-like symptoms during the conference tournament, hence his lower scoring figures in his last two games, but he remains an elite scorer who can get hot and lead the Gaels into the next round of the NCAA Tournament. However, don't sleep on sophomore forward David Laury, who averages 13.1 points and 10.4 rebounds, including a 20-17 he slapped on Niagra in the MAAC tournament semifinal.

Derick Beltran, Guard, No. 16 Southern

Second Round Opponent: No. 1 Gonzaga
Possible Third Round Opponent: No. 8 Pittsburgh/No. 9 Wichita State

Four players average more than 9.0 points per game for the Jaguars, but it's Beltran who leads the way at 15.9. Malcolm Miller, who came in at 15.8, is another solid option, though he's failed to play at least 30 minutes in five of his previous six games; that leaves Beltran as the best upside option on this well-balanced team. It's difficult to see Southern pulling off a second-round upset, but if it can figure out a way to topple the Zags, Beltran is likely to be the one who guides the Jaguars to victory.

SOUTH REGION

Romero Osby, Forward, No. 10 Oklahoma

Second Round Opponent: No. 7 San Diego State
Possible Third Round Opponent: No. 2 Georgetown/No. 15 Florida Gulf Coast

Osby leads the Sooners in scoring (15.8) and rebounding (7.0) this season and has put together a few solid performances over the last month. He scored 18 points and grabbed 15 rebounds against Oklahoma State on Feb. 16, scored 31 points with five rebounds and three assists against Texas on Feb. 27 and then went for 22-9 and 18-9 in two games against Iowa State in March. The scoring is consistent but if he can really hit the glass in the NCAA Tournament, he could be a solid fantasy chip.

Trevor Mbakwe, Forward, No. 11 Minnesota

Second Round Opponent: No. 6 UCLA
Possible Third Round Opponent: No. 3 Florida/No 13. Northwestern State

Mbakwe was a known commodity in college basketball early this season but he became a near household name thanks to his dominant performance against Cody Zeller and Indiana on Feb. 26 when he scored 21 points and grabbed 12 rebounds while limiting Zeller to only nine points and seven boards. The senior forward recorded double-doubles against Michigan State, Illinois (twice), Indiana (twice) and Michigan this season, so he can clearly step it up against good competition. If you're looking for a little more versatility, Andre Hollins is an interesting choice, averaging 13.9 points, 3.4 rebounds and 3.4 assists this season, though he's only shot more than 50 percent twice in his last 11 games.

Zeke Marshall, Center, No. 12 Akron

Second Round Opponent: No. 5 VCU
Possible Third Round Opponent: No. 4 Michigan/No. 13 South Dakota State

Marshall is one of the taller players heading into the NCAA Tournament, measuring an even seven feet. With that height, he's been a defensive star, averaging 3.7 blocks per game, which leaves him fourth in the country behind Nerlens Noel of Kentucky (4.4), Chris Obekpa of St. John's (4.1) and Jeff Withey of Kansas (3.8). He is also averaging 13.0 points and 7.1 rebounds this season but has been even better lately, averaging 14.0 points, 8.8 rebounds and 4.7 blocks in his last four games, all while hitting 62 percent of his shots. The Zips are a well-balanced team when it comes to scoring, but Marshall does the most throughout the stat sheet.

Nate Wolters, Guard, No. 13 South Dakota State

Second Round Opponent: No. 4 Michigan
Possible Third Round Opponent: No. 5 VCU/No. 12 Akron

Wolters is a repeat from last year and has clearly gotten better with an extra year of experience. Last season he became only the fifth player in NCAA history to average at least 20 points, five rebounds and five assists per game. He enters the NCAA Tournament averaging 22.7 points, 5.6 rebounds, 5.8 assists and 1.8 steals per game, a remarkable stat line for a college player. The highlight of his season came Feb. 7 against IPFW when he scored 53 points in an incredible shooting performance (17-28 FG, 9-14 3Pt, 10-11 FT). Everyone knows he can put the ball in the bucket, but he's been distributing more lately, averaging 8.0 assists over his last four games (don't worry, he's still averaging 20.8 points over that span). If the Jackrabbits have an upset in them, expect some big numbers out of Wolters.

DeQuan Hicks, Forward, No. 14 Northwestern State

Second Round Opponent: No. 3 Florida
Possible Third Round Opponent: No. 6 UCLA/No. 11 Minnesota

Northwestern State is the highest scoring team in college basketball this season, topping out at 81.0 points per game. How do they do it? Balanced scoring, exactly what fantasy players don't want to hear. Five players average more than 8.0 points per game, led by Hicks at 14.1. While he missed three straight games earlier this month with an ankle injury, he's been able to do more than just score, which cements his name on this list.

Sherwood Brown, Guard, No. 15 Florida Gulf Coast

Second Round Opponent: No. 2 Georgetown
Possible Third Round Opponent: No. 7 San Diego State/No. 10 Oklahoma

Brown has been a little up and down this season, scoring more than 20 points in seven games while scoring fewer than 10 in five others. He had a four-game stretch in January that resulted in four consecutive double-doubles and then posted his fifth of the season in the Atlantic Sun tournament championship when he scored 16 points and grabbed 11 rebounds. Bernard Thompson has also posted some solid numbers this season, but the fantasy points are with Brown.

T.J. Price, Guard, No. 16 Western Kentucky

Second Round Opponent: No. 1 Kansas
Possible Third Round Opponent: No. 8 North Carolina/No. 9 Villanova

George Fant has received the publicity after his 17-point, 13-rebound, four-block performance against Florida International in the Sun Belt Conference championship, but it's Price who had the biggest impact in getting the Hilltoppers there. Price has scored at least 21 points in six of his last 11 games, hitting multiple 3-pointers in all but two contests over that span. Four players average at least 8.3 points per game for the Hilltoppers, but Price has the best upside of the bunch.

EAST REGION

Andrew Roberson, Forward, No. 10 Colorado

Second Round Opponent: No. 7 Illinois
Possible Third Round Opponent: No. 2 Miami (FL)/No. 15 Pacific

Spencer Dinwiddie is an option here as the Buffaloes leading scorer this season, but Roberson gets the nod thanks to his excellent rebounding skills. Averaging 11.3 rebounds per game, the 6-7 junior is second in the nation in that category, while also averaging 10.9 points per game. With 12 double-doubles this season, Roberson also does a ton on the defensive end, averaging 2.2 steals and 1.3 blocks per game. He's a legitimate multiple-category contributor, which makes up for his somewhat limited scoring ceiling.

Mike Muscala, Center, No. 11 Bucknell

Second Round Opponent: No. 6 Butler
Possible Third Round Opponent: No. 3 Marquette/No. 14 Davidson

Fifteen players in the country averaged double-digit rebounds this season, but not a single one averaged more points per game than Muscala's 19.1. The senior center averages 11.2 rebounds per game, good for fourth in the country, and is working on back-to-back 20-plus point, 10-plus rebound games (21-14 against Army and 20-11 against Lafayette). His 22 double-doubles this season helped Bucknell to a 28-5 record, and he'll be a very difficult matchup for Butler.

Justin Cobbs, Guard, No. 12 California

Second Round Opponent: No. 5 UNLV
Possible Third Round Opponent: No. 4 Syracuse/No. 13 Montana

Allen Crabbe is the Golden Bears' leading scorer this season, but Cobbs is producing more across the stat sheet. Averaging 15.5 points, 3.5 rebounds, 4.8 assists and 1.1 steals per game this season, Cobbs has been even better recently, averaging 25.0 points, 4.5 rebounds and 5.5 assists over his last two games. If you want the hot hand here, it's Cobbs over Crabbe.

Kareem Jamar, Guard-Forward, No. 13 Montana

Second Round Opponent: No. 4 Syracuse
Possible Third Round Opponent: No. 5 UNLV/No. 12 California

Will Cherry was in this spot for Montana last year, but he continues to battle his way back from a foot injury and is a tough recommendation even though he's back on the court. Jamar gets the call based on his exceptional recent play that saw him step it up for the Grizz after they lost leading scorer Mathias Ward to a season-ending knee injury in mid-February. February 23 against Davidson was Montana's first game without Ward, and Jamar responded by scoring 28 points, grabbing 12 rebounds and dishing out seven assists. Since then he's averaging 17.2 points, 5.2 rebounds and 3.8 assists in six games, shooting at least 50 percent in each contest. While Cherry is the Grizzlies' team leader, Jamar is the hot hand.

Jake Cohen, Forward, No. 14 Davidson

second Round Opponent: No. 3 Marquette
ossible Third Round Opponent: No. 6 Butler/No. 11 Bucknell

Cohen was in this spot last year and responded by scoring 24 points and grabbing 10 rebounds in Davidson's loss to Louisville. He's back again as he leads the Wildcats in scoring and blocks despite playing less than 26 minutes per game. The senior forward has scored at least a dozen points in 15 consecutive games, including a 28-point, four-rebound, four-assist effort against Montana on Feb. 23. Cohen has been known to hit the glass well too, recording two double-doubles in February. He's shooting 54 percent the last four games for a Davidson team that is riding a 17-game winning streak.

Lorenzo McCloud, Guard, No. 15 Pacific

Second Round Opponent: No. 2 Miami
Possible Third Round Opponent: No. 7 Illinois/No. 10 Colorado

What do you do with a team that has seven players averaging at least 5.0 points per game but only one averaging more than 10.0? You take the top guy. McCloud leads the Tigers with 11.4 points per game this season, though it's been reserve Tony Gill with the hot scoring hand lately, averaging 19.5 over his last two games. Nevertheless, it's McCloud who gets the call based on his decent scoring and four-game streak of at least six rebounds or six assists. Pacific doesn't boast a high-scoring offense, so it's important to grab a versatile player like McCloud who can do more than just put the ball in the basket.

A.J. Davis, Guard, No. 16 James Madison

First Round (Play-In Game) Opponent: No. 16 LIU-Brooklyn
Possible Second Round Opponent: No. 1 Indiana
Possible Third Round Opponent: No. 8 North Carolina State/No. 9 Temple

JMU has three versatile players who could have taken this spot, but Davis separates himself from Rayshawn Goins and Devon Moore based on his recent play. Goins has eight double-doubles this season and Moore has had only one game with fewer than five assists since the end of January, but Davis is the hot hand. The senior guard averaged 23.5 points, 5.5 rebounds and 3.0 steals over the last six games, including a 26-point, seven-rebound effort over Northeastern in the CAA championship. His minutes were sporadic earlier in the year, but Davis has cemented himself in the lineup as a vital piece, and fantasy owners who think JMU could make history should bet on Davis to be the one who leads the charge.

Jamal Olasewere, Forward, No. 16 LIU Brooklyn

First Round (Play-In Game) Opponent: No. 16 James Madison
Possible Second Round Opponent: No. 1 Indiana
Possible Third Round Opponent: No. 8 North Carolina State/No. 9 Temple

Olasewere leads the Blackbirds in points (18.9), rebounds (8.5) and steals (1.5) this season and has done it against solid competition, such as the 22 points he scored against Kentucky on Nov. 23 or the 27-point, nine-rebound effort he had against Seton Hall on Dec. 22. However, his recent play is what has helped the Blackbirds on their five-game winning streak, as he's posted four double-doubles while averaging 19.2 points and 10.2 rebounds over that span. If there's one guy who could pass Olasewere in terms of value, it's senior guard C.J. Garner, who has scored 30, 30, 23 and 31 points, respectively, in his last four games.

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