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NCAA Tournament Preview: Hidden Gems No Longer

Andrew M. Laird

Andrew M. Laird, a four-time FSWA Award finalist, is RotoWire's Senior Soccer Editor and an editor for the site's NFL, MLB, NBA, NHL, CBB and DFS content.

It seems every year we see at least one double-digit seed make the Sweet 16, enamoring everyone with the Cinderella story. Whether it's the classic 5-12 matchup or somewhere else in the bracket, each of these potential Cinderellas is led by a player who should be on your NCAA Tournament fantasy roster but isn't because you aren't familiar with him -- yet.

Well, that's all about to change. Below are players from seeds 10-14 who could make some noise in the early rounds, providing excellent fantasy value as they'll likely come cheap in drafts. Apologies to the 15th and 16th seeds, but the one-and-done history cannot be ignored. Seeds 10 through 14? They can be dangerous.


Tu Holloway, Guard, No. 10 Xavier

First-Round Opponent: No. 7 Notre Dame
Second-Round Opponent: No. 2 Duke/No. 15 Lehigh

Holloway was considered one of the best players in the country entering the year, but Xavier struggled more than expected and Holloway's stock took a hit. Don't let that deter you, as the senior guard averaged 17.0 points, 5.1 assists, 3.7 rebounds and 1.5 steals this season and enters the NCAA Tournament scoring at least 21 points in three of the last four games.

Andre Roberson, Forward, No. 11 Colorado

First-Round Opponent: No. 6 UNLV
Second-Round Opponent: No. 3 Baylor/No. 14 South Dakota State

Roberson was one of 22 players in the nation to average a double-double, posting 11.6 points and 11.1 rebounds per game. The 6-foot-7 sophomore doesn't always put up huge scoring numbers, but he grabbed fewer than 10 rebounds only nine times all season.

Bradford Burgess, Guard, No. 12 VCU

First-Round Opponent: No. 5 Wichita State
Second-Round Opponent: No. 4 Indiana/No. 13 New Mexico State

VCU doesn't score a lot of points, but when it succeeds, Burgess is usually a part of it. He led the Rams in scoring this season and had a few big games, such as his 31 points against George Mason on Feb. 25. He isn't the biggest scorer out there, but he's certainly capable of breaking out.

Wendell McKines, Forward, No. 13 New Mexico State

First-Round Opponent: No. 4 Indiana
Second-Round Opponent: No. 5 Wichita State/No. 12 VCU

McKines led the WAC in scoring and rebounding this season with 18.8 points and 10.8 rebounds per game, including 14 games with at least 20 and 10. He has recorded a double-double in five of the past six contests, capped by a 27-point, 14-rebound effort in the WAC tournament championship.

Nate Wolters, Guard, No. 14 South Dakota State

First-Round Opponent: No. 3 Baylor
Second-Round Opponent: No. 6 UNLV/No. 11 Colorado

Wolters finished second in the Summit League in scoring and first in assists, averaging 21.3 and 6.0, respectively. He also posted a solid 5.2 rebounds per game, proving he's one of the most versatile guards in the country. The Jackrabbits like to score plenty of points, and Wolters will be the main reason for it.


Mike Scott, Forward, No. 10 Virginia

First-Round Opponent: No. 7 Florida
Second-Round Opponent: No. 2 Missori/No. 15 Norfolk State

Scott finished second in the ACC in scoring and fifth in rebounding and has been especially hot recently. Over the last three games, Scott averaged 28.7 points and 10.3 rebounds, while shooting 50 percent from the field. If the Cavaliers are going to pull the upset against the Gators, Scott likely will be all over the stat sheet.

Dorian Green, Guard, No. 11 Colorado State

First-Round Opponent: No. 6 Murray State
Second-Round Opponent: No. 3 Marquette/No. 14 BYU

Wes Eikmeier led the Rams in scoring, but Green has been the better of the two lately. He recorded 20 points, three assists and four steals against San Diego State on March 9, his seventh straight game with double-digit points. The junior guard has also been solid from deep, hitting seven threes over the last three games.

Casper Ware, Guard, No. 12 Long Beach State

First-Round Opponent: No. 5 New Mexico
Second-Round Opponent: No. 4 Louisville/No. 13 Davidson

Ware has been one of the nation's best guards this season, helping the 49ers to a 25-8 record overall, including 15-1 in the Big West Conference. He stepped up huge in the conference championship, hitting eight three-pointers en route to 33 points. Ware can really light it up, and Long Beach State could very well be this year's Cinderella, making Ware especially valuable in Tournament fantasy leagues.

Jake Cohen, De'Mon Brooks, Forwards, No. 13 Davidson

First-Round Opponent: No. 4 Louisville
Second-Round Opponent: No. 5 New Mexico/No. 12 Long Beach State

Cohen has been a bit inconsistent this season, but when he's on, he's one of the best players on the court. He had quite a performance on March 5 against Western Carolina, recording 17 points, seven rebounds, four assists and seven blocked shots, while shooting 78 percent from the field. Meanwhile, De'Mon Brooks led the Wildcats in scoring and rebounding this season and averaged 18.7 points and 6.3 rebounds over the last three games entering the Tournament.

Noah Hartsock, Forward, No. 14 BYU

First-Round Opponent: No. 3 Marquette
Second-Round Opponent: No. 6 Murray State/No. 11 Colorado State

Brandon Davies is the biggest name on the Cougars roster, but it's Hartsock who's been BYU's best player this season. Averaging 16.7 points and 5.2 rebounds per game, Hartsock is also closing in on the school's all-time blocked shots record, held by Shawn Bradley. In Tuesday's play-in game victory against Iona, Harstock scored a game-high 23 points with five rebounds, two blocks and a steal. At 6-8, he's not always the tallest player on the court, but he has got a great knack for the ball, making him a solid defensive force.


Kevin Jones, Forward, Darryl Bryant, Guard, No. 10 West Virginia

First-Round Opponent: No. 7 Gonzaga
Second-Round Opponent: No. 2 Ohio State/No. 15 Loyola

Jones became just the fifth player in Big East history to lead the conference in scoring and rebounding in the same season and just joined Jerry West as the only players in West Virginia basketball history with at least 1,700 points and 1,000 rebounds. He's been a consistent force all season and should be a big part of any victories. Bryant is another high scorer, though he can be very inconsistent. He's been good lately, though, scoring at least 20 points in three of the last four games, so he could very well keep those good times rolling.

J'Covan Brown, Guard, No. 11 Texas

First-Round Opponent: No. 6 Cincinnati
Second-Round Opponent: No. 3 Florida State/No. 14 St. Bonaventure

Brown was by far the best player on the Longhorns roster this season, averaging 20.1 points, 3.8 assists, 3.3 rebounds and 1.2 steals per game. He's been even better recently, putting up 24.8 points, 6.0 rebounds and 4.3 assists over the last four games, including a 33-point effort against Kansas on March 3. If Texas is able to upset Cincinnati on Friday, it will be because of Brown.

Kyle Casey, Guard, No. 12 Harvard

First-Round Opponent: No. 5 Vanderbilt
Second-Round Opponent: No. 4 Wisconsin/No. 13 Montana

Casey led the Crimson in scoring this season, though it was with only 11.3 points per game. He's been a bit better lately, scoring 20, 12, 19 and 11 points going into the NCAA Tournament, the most points he's scored in a four-game stretch this season. Harvard doesn't put up a ton of points, which leaves Casey as a relatively weak option unless the Crimson make a solid run.

Will Cherry, Guard, No. 13 Montana

First-Round Opponent: No. 4 Wisconsin
Second-Round Opponent: No. 5 Vanderbilt/No. 12 Harvard

The Grizzlies head into the NCAA Tournament at 25-6, 15-1 in the Big Sky Conference, riding a 14-game winning streak. Cherry is a big reason why, averaging 16.0 points, 3.9 rebounds, 3.4 assists and 2.6 steals per game this season. He has had a few big scoring outbursts, but he's more valuable in NCAA Tournament fantasy leagues that give extra points to other stats on the sheet.

Andrew Nicholson, Forward, No. 14 St. Bonaventure

First-Round Opponent: No. 3 Florida State
Second-Round Opponent: No. 6 Cincinnati/No. 11 Texas

Nicholson has simply been a beast with six double-doubles in the last 10 games, including a 26-point, 14-rebound, eight-block effort against Xavier in the Atlantic 10 Conference championship that sent the Bonnies to the NCAA Tournament. He's especially adept at making buckets, shooting at least 50 percent in 17 consecutive games.


Robbie Hummel, Forward, No. 10 Purdue

First-Round Opponent: No. 7 St. Mary's
Second-Round Opponent: No. 2 Kansas/No. 15 Detroit

It seems that Hummel has been with the Boilermakers for about a decade and a lot of it has to do with his injury history. This isn't the best Purdue team he's been on, but it's the best he's played on in his career. He leads the team with 16.3 points, 7.1 rebounds and 1.2 blocks per game. Hummel is in a bit of a shooting slump, going 5-of-15 the last two games, but he's always capable of breaking out in a big way.

C.J. Leslie, Forward No. 11 North Carolina State

First-Round Opponent: No. 6 San Diego State
Second-Round Opponent: No. 3 Georgetown/No. 14 Belmont

Leslie led the Wolfpack in scoring this season and has put up a number of strong games in February and March. He recorded a double-double in five of the last seven games, averaging 16.6 points and 9.3 rebounds in that span. Another name to keep in mind is Lorenzo Brown, who can really fill the stat sheet (averaging 12.7 points, 6.4 assists, 4.3 rebounds and 1.8 steals per game).

D.J. Cooper, Guard, No. 13 Ohio

First-Round Opponent: No. 4 Michigan
Second-Round Opponent: No. 5 Temple/No. 12 California/No. 12 South Florida

The Bobcats stormed through the MAC Tournament and Cooper was the biggest reason why. The junior guard averaged 19.7 points and 6.7 assists over the three games, making 12 three-pointers in that span. If he can get hot against the Wolverines, the Bobcats could find themselves moving onto the next round.

Kerron Johnson, Guard No. 14 Belmont

First-Round Opponent: No. 3 Georgetown
Second-Round Opponent: No. 6 San Diego State/No. 11 North Carolina State

The Bruins have six players who average at least 8.5 points per game, led by Johnson at 14.1. After winning the Atlantic Sun regular season title, the Bruins took home the conference tournament championship behind a 14-point, 11-rebound, five-assist effort from Johnson. There has been a lot of chatter about Belmont upsetting Georgetown, which would give Johnson more opportunities to shine on the big stage.