NCAA Basketball March Madness

Ranking the Top Sixteen Passers in the 2013 Sweet Sixteen

1 of 17

Ranking the Top Sixteen Passers of the 2013 Sweet Sixteen

JD Mercer-USA TODAY Sports

This NCAA tournament has been one of the craziest in the history of college basketball with upsets the likes of which have never been seen before.

The No. 2 seed Georgetown Hoyas were outplayed by the No. 15 seed Florida Gulf Coast Eagles and Sherwood Brown, while the Big 10 title sharers, the No. 5 seed Wisconsin Badgers, were knocked out in the first round by a determined No. 12 seed Ole Miss Rebels team led by the brash SEC scoring leader Marshall Henderson

The Pac-12 tournament champions, the No. 12 seed Oregon Ducks, proved to the selection committee that they seeded them far too low with dominating performances against the No. 5 seed Oklahoma State Cowboys and the No. 4 seed Saint Louis Billikens.

Now, crunch time in the tournament begins with the arrival of the Sweet Sixteen and four teams seeded No. 9 or higher left in the tournament.

The tournament so far this season has been all about the upsets and the scoring performances of some of the best players in the country. But what about the players who made these upsets possible through their exceptional ball handling? No one remembers the guy who passed the most during the game, no one remembers the guy who assisted on the dunk, and no one remembers the guy who made the pass that led to the buzzer beater. None of the upsets in the NCAA tournament could have been possible without the unsung heroes of the Sweet Sixteen - the unselfish masters of the assist.

Here’s a list ranking the top sixteen passers of the teams in the Sweet Sixteen:

2 of 17

No. 16 Johnathan Loyd - Oregon Ducks

Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

Loyd may not start for Oregon, but he is leading the surging Ducks in assists so far in the NCAA tournament. His outstanding play is crucial to whether or not Oregon can continue to the Elite Eight.

3 of 17

No. 15 Brandon Triche – Syracuse Orange

Cary Edmondson-USA TODAY Sports

Triche is part of the reason that the Orange continue to win. He benefits from the fact that anyone he passes to can (and will) score.

4 of 17

No. 14 Keith Appling – Michigan State Spartans

Mike Carter-USA TODAY Sports

The Spartans don’t have a player known for his exceptional passing skills, but, in late game situations, Appling always seems to find the right pass

5 of 17

No. 13 Malcolm Armstead - Wichita State Shockers

Steve Dykes-USA TODAY Sports

In the Shockers’ losses so far this season, Armstead’s play is a huge factor. If Wichita State wants to prove that they are worthy of making it to the Elite Eight, he will have to have a great game against a trigger happy LaSalle team.

6 of 17

No. 12 Russ Smith - Louisville Cardinals

Debby Wong-USA TODAY Sports

Smith is known more for his prolific scoring, but he’s averaging around three assists per game throughout the NCAA tournament.

7 of 17

No. 11 Elijah Johnson - Kansas Jayhawks

Peter G. Aiken-USA TODAY Sports

Kansas will only win games when Kevin Young and Jeff Withey get the ball; Johnson knows how to get it to them.

8 of 17

No. 10 Junior Cadougan – Marquette Golden Eagles

Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports

The Golden Eagles have won two last second games due to the heroics of Vander Blue, but Cadougan’s passing ability has helped this team to keep competing towards the end of games.

9 of 17

No. 9 Yogi Ferrell - Indiana Hoosiers

Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports

Ferrell’s passing ability has helped lead the Hoosiers to wins against two tough teams. He’s a talented guard and, as a freshman, will be a player that the country will get to know in the next few years.

10 of 17

No. 8 Quinn Cook – Duke Blue Devils

Howard Smith-USA TODAY Sports

The Blue Devils are a very “jump shot heavy” team, so Cook’s increased passing is essential to Duke’s continued NCAA tournament success.

11 of 17

No. 7 Scottie Wilbekin - Florida Gators

Brendan Maloney-USA TODAY Sports

The Gators have dominated their NCAA tournament opposition on the road to the Sweet Sixteen and look like a Final Four team when all of their players play up to par. Wilbekin is an essential component of Florida’s powerful offense.

12 of 17

No. 6 Shane Larkin – Miami Hurricanes

Jim Cowsert-USA TODAY Sports

The ACC champs were snubbed for a No. 1 seed and are showing their displeasure by dominating everyone that they play. Larkin’s passing ability, as well as scoring threat, is tearing defenses apart.

13 of 17

No. 5 Aaron Craft – Ohio State Buckeyes

Frank Victores-USA TODAY Sports

Craft knows when to shoot and when to pass better than any player in the Sweet Sixteen. His game winner against Iowa State was a testament to that ability.

14 of 17

No. 4 Peyton Siva – Louisville Cardinals

Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

Louisville is playing outstanding basketball, and Siva’s passing ability is a tremendous reason for the Cardinals’ continued success.

15 of 17

No. 3 Trey Burke – Michigan Wolverines

Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports

The Wolverines are rolling over their tournament opposition thanks to Burke and Tim Hardaway Jr. Burke is not only an outstanding scorer, but averaging seven assists per tournament game.

16 of 17

No. 2 Brett Comer – Florida Gulf Coast Eagles

Howard Smith-USA TODAY Sports

There isn’t a player more fun to watch in the entire tournament. When Comer is on the court, it’s hard to tell whether you’re watching an NCAA tournament game or the Harlem Globetrotters.

17 of 17

No. 1 Michael Carter-Williams - Syracuse Orange

Cary Edmondson-USA TODAY Sports

When Carter-Williams plays well, Syracuse looks capable of winning the entire tournament. The Orange are out for revenge after letting the Big East tournament championship game slip away, and his