5 Players You Need To Watch In The 2012 NCAA Tournament

By: 03.12.12

Jamaal Franklin, San Diego State: This guy has stones. He hit two game-winning shots this season, most recently in the Aztec’s first game in the Mountain West tournament. He pulled up from 24 feet with a Boise State defender in his face in San Diego State’s win, but it wasn’t the first big shot coach Steve Fisher has handed him this season after averaging 19.5 points in conference games, best in the MWC, plus 9.9 boards per game. Don’t think it’s all about his jump-shooting, though; he’ll jump over anyone with his crazy hops. Here’s a bet someone will be posterized by Franklin in the next three weeks. The Aztecs plays No. 11 seed N.C. State in Columbus, Ohio on Friday.

Scott Machado, Iona: The Gaels (25-7) were a longshot to get in, drawing a play-in game with BYU for a 14th seed. The 6-1, 180-pound Machado, however, has been a rising star all season that put the team in this position by outdueling North Carolina’s Kendall Marshall as the nation’s top assist man. He dropped 9.9 assists per game, falling just shy of accomplishing double-digit assists. That’s a feat only two other players in NCAA Division I history have done. He’s the new point guard to watch as far as we’re concerned with Ricky Rubio gone from the NBA. Machado isn’t flashy with the ball, but he can produce the pure point guard’s dream: getting the ball to the right guy at the right time. The winner of the play-in game plays Marquette in Louisville. If Iona makes it, watch his following grow nationally.

Mike Moser, UNLV: What do you do if Hoover Dam sprouts a leak? Call Moser — the 6-8 sophomore forward will certainly stop it. Once known as “the UCLA transfer,” the Portland prep star and defensive stopper can shake that handle after his breakout season that included a 16-point, 18-rebound night to knock off then-No. 1 North Carolina back before Christmas. He was second in the Mountain West with 10.2 rebounds per game with a top-10-best 13.7 points per. He also led the league with 2.0 steals per game. The Rebels, a six-seed, play No. 11 Colorado on Thursday in Albuquerque.

Who is the player you’re most excited to watch?

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