NCAA Basketball March Madness

2013 NCAA Tournament: Top 16 Shooters of the Sweet 16

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Top Shooters of the Sweet 16

2013 NCAA Tournament: Top 16 Shooters of the Sweet 16
Kim Klement - USA TODAY Sports

The 2013 NCAA Tournament has reached the Sweet 16, and none of the teams fortunate enough to remain in contention for a National Championship would be where they are without clutch shooting from one of their top performers.

Defense does win championships, but in March Madness, one hot hand can often be the decisive factor for a team preparing to cut down the nets.

Nearly every squad still trying to claim a spot in the Final Four boasts a sharpshooter that can knock it down from anywhere on the court. From Russ Smith of the Louisville Cardinals to Ramon Galloway of the La Salle Explorers, there are plenty of scorers waiting to put on a show for us all this weekend.

The heroes of this year’s March Madness extravaganza have begun to emerge, but this weekend is where the real contenders separate themselves from the pretenders. Reaching the Sweet 16 is an accomplishment that shouldn’t be understated, but not even the No. 15 seed Florida Gulf Coast Eagles would be satisfied if their journey were to end just shy of a Final Four appearance.

There is little room for error this time of year, as every player fully understands a single missed shot can sink his team’s title hopes for good. Every shot counts, and the most clutch shooters remaining in this tourney are fully prepared to prove to us they understand that in full.

As we forge ahead into Sweet 16 action, here are the Top 16 shooters remaining in the 2013 NCAA Tournament.

Brandon Burnett is a San Francisco 49ers writer for Follow him on Twitter @B_Burnett49er, or add him to your network on Google.

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Gary Harris, Michigan State Spartans

Gary Harris
Mike Carter - USA TODAY Sports

Harris broke loose in the Spartans third round win over Memphis, dropping 23 points on 6-9 shooting, including 4-7 from three-point range. The freshman hasn’t been that deadly from deep game in and game out, but he seems to have found his touch.

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Deshaun Thomas, Ohio State Buckeyes

Deshaun Thomas
Brian Spurlock - USA TODAY Sports

One of the best shooters in the country, Thomas averaged 19.5 PPG during the regular season and has 46 throughout two NCAA Tourney games on an insanely efficient 16-30 shooting from the field. The guy can take over a game in a hurry when he's in a rhythm.

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Trey Burke, Michigan Wolverines

Trey Burke
Rick Osentoski - USA TODAY Sports

Burke is a do-it-all type of point guard, arguably the best in the nation, and he can also score from anywhere on the court. The stud sophomore has a quick release and has failed to reach 15 points or more just four times all year.

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Vander Blue, Marquette Golden Eagles

Vander Blue
Mark Zerof - USA TODAY Sports

Marquette’s leading scorer blew up in a third round win over Butler, pouring in 29 points on an impressive 9-15 shooting. If it weren’t for Blue’s clutch shooting, the Golden Eagles may not have even made it out of the second round.

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Russ Smith, Louisville Cardinals

Russ Smith
Geoff Burke - USA TODAY Sports

Smith could easily be the most lethal scorer on this list, dropping 23 and 27 points in the Cardinals’ first two tourney wins, respectively. He went 17-31 from the field (5-11 from three-point range) in those games and averaged 18.4 PPG during the regular season as well.

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C.J. Fair, Syracuse Orange

C.J. Fair
Kelley L Cox - USA Today Sports

Fair has been working hard on his shot from one offseason to the next, and this year the 6’8” forward has even shown the ability to drain it from downtown. He’s a big reason Syracuse is still alive in this tourney, scoring 31 points on 11-22 shooting in the first two wins combined.

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Erik Murphy, Florida Gators

Erik Murphy
Joshua Lindsey - USA TODAY Sports

For a big man, it’s amazing how natural of a shooter Murphy truly is. The 6’10”, 238-pound senior is shooting 46 percent from three-point range on the season and averaging 4.6 shots per night from beyond the arc.

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Ben McLemore, Kansas Jayhawks

Ben McLemore
Peter G. Aiken - USA TODAY Sports

The freshman has been a mess during the NCAA Tourney, shooting an embarrassing 0-9 from the field in the Jayhawks 70-58 win over North Carolina to advance to the Sweet 16. Nonetheless, McLemore remains one of the more dangerous shooters left playing and will look to end his struggles against Michigan Friday night.

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Ramon Galloway, La Salle Explorers

Ramon Galloway
Peter G. Aiken - USA TODAY Sports

Where would La Salle be without Galloway leading the way? Not in the Sweet 16, that’s for sure. The sharpshooting senior has nailed 12 of his 23 attempts from three-point range in three tourney games, including six of them in a third round win over Ole Miss.

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Mark Lyons, Arizona Cardinals

Mark Lyons
Jayne Kamin-Oncea - USA TODAY Sports

Lyons has been dynamite in Arizona’s two tourney wins thus far, scoring 23 points in a second round win over Belmont and then 27 on an amazing 12-17 shooting to drop Harvard and advance to the Sweet 16.

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Cleanthony Early, Wichita State Shockers

Cleanthony Early
Peter G. Aiken - USA TODAY Sports

The Shockers’ leading scorer overcame a late-season slump just in time for the tourney run, dropping 21 on Pittsburgh in the second round and then 16 in the upset win over Gonzaga while hitting four of his seven three-point tries.

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Seth Curry, Duke Blue Devils

Seth Curry
Howard Smith - USA TODAY Sports

Curry was a little off in Duke’s third round win over Creighton, but is still averaging over 20 PPG during the tourney and is without a doubt one of the top shooters remaining in the Sweet 16.

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Shane Larkin, Miami Hurricanes

Shane Larkin
Bob Donnan - USA TODAY Sports

Larkin can shoot, and Larkin can score. After tearing through the ACC Tourney, the talented sophomore has struggled a bit from the field, but can wake back up at any moment and carry the Hurricanes to the final four.

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Durand Scott, Miami Hurricanes

Durand Scott
Jim Cowsert - USA TODAY Sports

Larkin’s backcourt partner in crime, Scott can be extremely streaky but also extremely deadly. He’s shot 5-8 from behind the arc in two of Miami’s last four games and one of them was a 32-point night in an ACC Tournament win over N.C. State.

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Tim Hardaway Jr, Michigan Wolverines

Tim Hardaway Jr.
Rick Osentoski - USA TODAY Sports

South Dakota State found out the hard way that Hardaway Jr. can singlehandedly shut a team down when he’s confident shooting from beyond the arc. The junior poured in 21 points on 8-13 shooting in Michigan’s second round win over the Jackrabbits and he’s a mind-boggling 8-12 from three-point range over both tourney wins.

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Sherwood Brown, Florida Gulf Coast Eagles

Sherwood Brown
Howard Smith - USA TODAY Sports

Florida Gulf Coast’s magical run to the Sweet 16 has been thanks in large part to Brown, who is averaging over 20 points during two tourney games on a combined 12-21 from the field and 5-9 from three-point range.