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NCAA Tournament

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2023 NCAA Tournament: 3 Players to Watch in the Midwest Region

NCAA Tournament
(Photo by NCAA)

2023 NCAA Tournament: 3 Players to Watch in the Midwest Region

The 2023 NCAA Tournament is full of talented players that will give it their all to win a national championship. This is the biggest stage for these athletes and that is a lot of pressure. However, the spotlight does in fact make diamonds out of these young men. Some players are lottery picks in next year’s NBA draft but the best part about the tournament is it can make anyone a superstar in March. The darling of last year’s tournament was 15 seed St. Peter’s guard Douglas Edert who received the nickname Dougie Buckets from the public. He became a fan favorite as his underdog Peacocks had one of the best Cinderella tournament runs of all time. 

March Madness can make stars out of any player and college basketball fans across America will show their support. Now, I will pick three players to watch in the 2023 NCAA Tournament. I will try to get a mix of possible Final Four teams, Mid-Majors, and Cinderella stories.

Player to Watch: (1) Houston Cougars Guard Marcus Sasser

I know he is hurt and he missed the AAC Championship game. However, I think this was more Houston wanting to be cautious with their star player than a serious injury. I was tempted to choose AAC Freshman of the Year forward Jarace Walker or even the fantastic AAC Defensive Player of the Year guard Jamal Shead. 

I still had to choose Sasser because of how talented he is and how much he means to Houston. Marcus Sasser is averaging 17.1 points, 3.2 assists, and 1.7 steals. Also, he is scoring at an extremely efficient rate shooting 43.9% on field goals, 38.3% from three, and 84.0% from the three-point line. Let’s make things simple this man can score the rock. 

However, as a senior, he offers great leadership for this Cougars team. He is active on defense with great hands and he and fellow guard Shead are a defensive nightmare for opposing backcourts. Also, Sasser is an effective passer with good handles who can take care of the ball. 

This Houston team is phenomenal and there is a reason they are a one-seed and ranked 1 in the NET ranking. However, if Sasser can not play or at least be near 75% then the Cougars will have no shot this year. But if Marcus Sasser is healthy expect multiple great performances and a possible Houston national championship.

Player to Watch: (10) Penn State Nittany Lions Guard Jalen Pickett

I do not think Penn State is poised for a deep 2023 NCAA tournament run but Jalen Pickett deserves his flowers. This senior guard was a saving grace for Penn State as their leading scorer. He can do a bit of everything as he is averaging 17.9 points, 7.4 rebounds, and 5.7 assists. Also, he like Sasser is an efficient scorer shooting 51.6% from the field, 38.3% from behind the arc, and 77.3% from the charity stripe. 

Pickett’s three-point shooting has gone down as of late but he still is a beast in the paint. He is effective when driving to the basket and he is great at drawing contact and getting to the line. 

Also, Pickett is a solid passer as he is good at finding the open man. He may turn the ball over a little too much but then again he is capable of having double-digit assist games and that comes with the territory. 

He is the key to any Penn State tournament run as they are not the strongest ten seed. They struggle on the defensive end but their offense led by Pickett, guard Seth Lundy and guard Andrew Funk can hang with the best of them. Pickett has a great chance to put on an offensive clinic as this is what Penn State will need to beat Texas A&M in the first round.

Player to Watch: (12) Drake Bulldogs Guard Tucker DeVries

Tucker DeVries is one of the more talented players on the mid-major teams in the field. DeVries is a huge guard at 6’7 and 210 pounds. However, this does not hinder his shooting ability as DeVries is a bit of a marksman. He averages a wild 19.0 points, 5.6 rebounds, and 1.8 assists. The Drake Bulldogs guard is also shooting an efficient 45.7% on field goals, 38.7% on three-pointers, and 83.8% on free throws. 

Also, interesting enough is that DeVries is shooting an astronomical 45% from three on the road this year which is something that will come in handy in the NCAA Tournament. He uses his huge frame to rebound as well as guard multiple positions. He is not elite at defense but he can get some steals and make smaller guards uncomfortable. 

Drake has a good defensive unit which is necessary if they want to try and slow down the impressive Miami offense. However, Drake needs to take advantage of the lacking Miami defense if they want to pull off an upset. DeVries has had a 22-point outing and a 27-point outing in two of his last three games. Also, he had a 32-point explosion earlier in the year. DeVries will need to have a couple of these types of offensive games if they hope to upset Miami and make a run in the 2023 NCAA Tournament.

2023 NCAA Tournament Midwest Region Honorable Mentions 

(4) Indiana Hoosiers Center Trayce Jackson-Davis

(13) Kent State Guard Sincere Carry

(2) Texas Longhorns Guard Marcus Carr

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