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NCAA Basketball March Madness

2013 NCAA Tournament: 25 Star Players to Watch For in the Bracket

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NCAA Tournament's Top 25 Scorers

Don McPeak-USA Today Sports

March Madness is where some players make their make in history in college basketball. It is a prime opportunity for star players to carry their team on a Cinderella ride or putting their team on their back to a national championship.

Every single year in college basketball there are star players, but will those stars perform when the bright lights are on them and the stage is set in a win or go home type of atmosphere? The NCAA tournament allows for players from mid-major schools who didn’t get the recognition they deserved during the regular season, to prove that they are one of the best players in college basketball.

Year in and year out there are great players, but one usually stands out above the rest like Kemba Walker or Anthony Davis. This year, there is not one player who has just dominated every single game and has shown that they are the best player in college basketball and that is what is going to make this tournament so special.

Nate Wolters and Trey Burke might just be two of the best guards in college basketball and we get to see them square off in the second round. Star player match-ups make games so much better and this year, it seems like every team has at least one really good player who can lead their team over any team.

Will Doug McDermott, the potential player of the year, be able to carry his team to a magical run? All of these star players get a chance to make their mark in March and it all starts now.

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25:Ian Clark

Greg Bartram-USA Today Sports

Not many of you have probably heard about the star guard from Belmont, but he is certainly a player to watch in the NCAA tournament. Ian Clark averages 18 points per game while shooting an outstanding 46 percent from behind the arc for the upset hungry Bruins. He has the capability to carry his team to a possible sweet 16.

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24:Rodney McGruder

Kevin Jairaj-USA Today Sports

Rodney McGruder has been Kansas State’s best player all year and he looks to continue to lead the Wildcats in March. He average 15.7 point per game while pulling down 5.4 rebounds a game as well.

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23:C.J. Leslie

Liz Condo-USA Today Sports

A talented North Carolina State team is lead by C.J. Leslie. Leslie is by far the best Wolfpack player and is of the best players in college basketball. He averages 15 points per game and pulls down 7.4 rebounds per game as he looks to carry the Wolfpack on another crazy national championship run.

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22:Allen Crabbe

Kyle Terada-USA Today Sports

Most of you remember Allen Crabbe’s name from when he was pushed by his coach, but Crabbe is a star in college basketball. Crabbe scores 18.7 points per game and records six rebounds to go along with it. He has the potential to carry California to a potential upset over UNLV.

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21:Seth Curry

Bob Donnan-USA Today Sports

Seth Curry is the first of three Duke players on this list, but any single one of them can be the star of this year’s Blue Devils team. Curry is a flat out scorer and can really shoot the basketball when he is in the zone. He is a leader on this team and can drop 30+ points on any given night.

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20:Khalif Wyatt

Howard Smith-USA Today Sports

Khalif Wyatt is Temple’s outstanding guard who is one of the best scorers in college basketball. He averages 19.8 points per game and can have a career-high game on any given night. His star play will be up against a big test as he has to face the talent of North Carolina State.

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19:Lamont Jones

Mark L. Baer-USA Today Sports

Lamont Jones of Iona is the third leading scorer in the country and therefore I feel he deserves to be on this list. He is a transfer from Arizona and he knows what it is like to play with the big boys and he’ll have to put up huge numbers if his Gaels want to upset Ohio State.

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18:Ryan Kelly

Jim O'Connor-USA Today Sports

Ryan Kelly is one of the most valuable players in the entire tournament. Without him, Duke is nowhere near the same team and you can tell why when you watch him play. The 6 foot 11 forward can shoot lights out from the outside and play great defense. We all saw how much he can score when he dropped 36 on Miami (FL) in his first game back from injury.

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17:Marshall Henderson

Don McPeak-USA Today Sports

At this point in the season, everybody knows who Marshall Henderson is. The star from Ole Miss is one of the top scorers in the country and he uses his play to back up his big mouth. Henderson is a great player to watch. Both for his play and for his antics.

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16:Anthony Bennett

Card Edmondson-USA Today Sports

Anthony Bennett is one of the most exciting freshmen to watch in college basketball. Bennett is a forward for UNLV who can flat out score. He can attack the basket and throw down powerful jams or he can light it up from the outside. His 16.1 points per game leads his team and he also averages eight rebounds a game as well.

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15:Michael Carter-Williams

Debby Wong-USA Today Sports

Michael Carter-Williams is the best passing point guard in all of college basketball. Carter-Williams averages 7.7 assists per game to go along with 12 points, five rebounds and three steals. He does it all for the Orange and that is what makes him such a great player.

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14:Mason Plumlee

Bob Donnan-USA Today Sports

Mason Plumlee got off to the best start a player could get off too. He was dominating every game as his team was dominating every game. He has cooled off a little, but he is still one the best players in the game and has the potential to dominate every game he plays in. He is a walking double-double and now that he has Ryan Kelly back on the floor with him, his production will just increase.

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13:Shabazz Muhammad

Kyle Terada-USA Today Sports

Shabazz Muhammad has certainly lived up to the hype for UCLA. The talented freshmen averages 18 points per game for the Bruins and when his suspension was finally lifted, is when UCLA turned their season around. Everyone is talking about Minnesota upsetting UCLA, but I’m sure Muhammed will have something to say about that.

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Debby Wong-USA Today Sports

Russ Smith is a diaper dandy for the Louisville Cardinals and he is the reason they got the No. 1 overall seed. Smith scores 18 points per game and records 3.6 rebounds and three assists as well. He is a big time player and his performance has been great all season long.

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11:Nate Wolters

Nelson Chenault-USA Today Sports

Not many people would have Nate Wolters this high up their list, but I love the way this kid plays the game. He has led South Dakota State back to the NCAA tournament and he is one of the top players in the country. He is the fourth leading scorer in the country at 22.7 points per game, but he also averages six rebounds and six assists per game. Talk about big time production, Wolters does just that.

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10:Shane Larkin

Steve Mitchell-USA Today Sports

The top 10 in this list can easily be inter-changeable as all 10 players are just so good. Shane Larkin showed just how good he was this weekend in the ACC tournament. He means so much to his team and is one of the best point guards in the country. His ability to shoot from the outside combined with his speed and quickness to beat kids off the bounce so he can use his vision to find wide open shooters, make him a lethal player.

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9:Cody Zeller

David Banks-USA Today Sports

Cody Zeller came into this season as the player of the year favorite and has not disappointed. He can play with anybody in the point and runs the floor better than any big man in the country. Zeller has so much talent around him that it takes away from him averaging even better numbers than he does, but that doesn’t affect his status as one of the best players out there.

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8:Marcus Smart

Brendan Maloney-USA Today Sports

Talk about pure talent. Marcus Smart has just that. You can’t teach this kids athleticism and it will be on full display in a couple of days. The star freshman averages 15.4 points, 5.7 rebounds, 4.2 assists and three steals per game. That is production at its highest level and what makes this kid so good.

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7:Ben McLemore

Peter Aiken-USA Today Sports

Ben McLemore has been arguably the best freshman in the country. He has one of the purest shots in the country and can flat out light it up. He shoots 44 percent from behind the arc and that is the main reason he averages 16.4 points per game. Not only can he score, but his athleticism is off the charts and he can play great defense.

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6:Kelly Olynyk

James Snook-USA Today Sports

Kelly Olynyk is the best player on arguably the best team in the country. He is a candidate for player of the year and deservingly so. He averages 17.5 points per game and pulls down seven boards a game. The kid is a flat out monster and is a flat out star.

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5:Victor Oladipo

Brian Spurlock-USA Today Sports

Talk about an exciting player to watch. Victor Oladipo has been a huge surprise this season and everyone is glad he has shown his true talents. He can jump out of the building and shoot great from the perimeter. Oladipo is a work horse and is a flat out stud.

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4:Deshaun Thomas

Mike Carter-USA Today Sports

There isn’t much to say about Deshaun Thomas. If you have ever watched any Ohio State game, you know how much he means to his team and how good he is.

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3:Otto Porter Jr.

David Butler II-USA Today Sports

Otto Porter Jr. is similar to Thomas with their value to their team. Porter is the main scorer on Georgetown and basically the only scorer. He can shoot from the outside and knockdown the mid-range jump-shots, while playing outstanding defense.

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2:Doug McDermott

Dave Weaver-USA Today Sports

Doug McDermott is a star. He is the second leading scorer in the nation at 23.1 points per game. He does that by shooting 50 percent from behind the arc and over 55 percent from the field. He is a mismatch waiting to happen and on the defensive end he is a rebounding machine.

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1:Trey Burke

Rick Osentoski-USA Today Sports

Trey Burke has been the best player in college basketball this season. Not many players can play to the level he plays at. Burke knocks down shots at an efficient rate and scores 19 points per game. Every team keys on him and that is when he’ll find his open teammates for easy baskets to account for his 6.7 assists. Burke also plays fantastic defense and is just an exciting player to watch.