By Brad Berreman @bradberreman24 on March 17, 2014
The Tennessee Volunteers will take on the Iowa Hawkeyes Wednesday night in the last of the “First Four” games to kick off the 2014 NCAA Tournament, with the winner moving on to play No. 6 seed UMass in the Midwest Region on Friday afternoon.
Here are the five most important players for Tennessee as they attempt to make a long run in this year’s Big Dance.-
Richardson’s season-high in points (20) came in what turned out to be an important non-conference win over Virginia. I don't expect his numbers to stand out, but it would not surprise me to see Richardson come up with a clutch play or two for the Volunteers during the NCAA Tournament.
Barton averaged 17 points per game over the final three regular season games when the Volunteers needed to win games, and his perimeter scoring will be important going forward if Jordan McRae continues to struggle.
Maymon missed the entire 2012-2013 season with a right knee injury, but he returned this season and is Tennessee’s second-leading rebounder (8.2 per game) and third-leading scorer (10.1 points per game).
Stokes is averaging 14.7 points and 10.3 rebounds per game this season, with 19 double-doubles. If Tennessee makes a run to the Sweet 16 or beyond, his performance on both ends of the floor will be a big reason why.
McRae is Tennessee’s leading scorer this season (18.6 points per game), but he has gone just 7-for-27 (25.9 percent) from beyond the arc over the last five games. He can carry the Volunteers when he gets hot (seven games with 25 or more points this season), but McRae's defensive effort, starting with a potential matchup with Iowa's Roy Devyn Marble Wednesday night, will be just as important.
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