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March Madness is now in full swing following this past Tuesday’s four opening games. As fun as it is to bet on teams and debate about which teams were unfairly excluded this year, it’s just as exciting to follow the performance of individual players. Here are the players most worth watching.
Zion Williamson, Duke
Duke’s forward has arguably received the most praise of any player as March Madness begins. He received the ACC Player of the Year award and is currently the leading contender for the national award. At the outset of March Madness, his averages were 22.1 points, 8.9 rebounds, 2.2 steals, 2.1 assists and 1.8 blocks, and with such a strong record, he may find himself playing for the NBA soon enough.
RJ Barrett, Duke
No wonder the NCAA tournament selection committee chose Duke as the overall top team this year. With both Williamson and RJ Barrett on the team, Duke seems pretty unstoppable. Barrett is strongly to thank: he holds the freshman record for 20-point games and total points. During March Madness, he could potentially take his season point total from its pre-tournament 779 to 900, and this would place him alongside only two other freshmen who have ever achieved this goal, one of whom is none other than now-NBA household name Kevin Durant.
Ignas Brazdeikis, Michigan
Although some have argued that Michigan faces unfair roadblocks from Duke in the March Madness bracket, few can say that Ignas Brazdeikis is anything less than a star in the making. This Lithuanian-born Michigan player was named a Big Ten Freshman of the Year, and some think he could take Michigan to the National Title game for the team’s second consecutive year.
Rui Hachimura, Gonzaga
Another player from a No. 1 seed team, the Japan-born player Rui Hachimura has had a remarkable season as Gonzaga’s forward. Per game, he averaged 20 points and six rebounds; now in his junior year at Gonzaga, he was recently awarded West Coast Conference Player of the Year. With Gonzaga a top seed, Hachimura could wind up being named the March Madness MVP.
Coby White, North Carolina
The No. 1 seeds this year are truly stacked with remarkable players. Coby White, a freshman guard playing for North Carolina, scored a whopping 34 points in one game this season (February 26, against Syracuse). His averages are exceptional, too: 16 points and four assists. Most exciting about him, though, is that, in his current freshman year, he scored enough to move above a certain Michael Jordan on North Carolina’s all-time freshman year score rankings.
Ethan Happ, Wisconsin
Whereas many of this year’s most exciting players belong to trailblazing teams, Ethan Happ is part of a team that may need to rely on him especially strongly. Happ, a senior forward, has such strong per-game averages — 17.5 points, 10.1 rebounds, 4.6 assists, 1.3 blocks, 1.1 steals — that even coaches on other teams have praised him.
Which players are you most stoked about for March Madness? Let us know in the comments!