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Khalif Wyatt, PJ Hairston, MoMo Jones and Other Players to Watch in 2013 NCAA Tournament

It is very easy to be consumed by the bracket. Who will advance? What team got snubbed? Can somebody off the grid become this year's Cinderella? Sometimes one player, like Davidson's Stephen Curry, or BYU's Jimmer Fredette becomes the darling of March as he leads his team deep into the tournament. We have identified one player in each region to keep your eye on.

There won't be a lot of brackets that have Indiana losing during the first weekend of the tournament. If they do, Temple's Khalif Wyatt could be the reason. The senior guard has a knack for the big moment, and is the leading scorer in the East Region entering tournament play. Wyatt averages just under 20 points per game, and has scored 30 or more on five occasions this season. His 33 points against Syracuse in December helped the Owls beat the Orange. The Atlantic 10 Player of the Year helped Temple go 4-3 against the Top 50 teams in the NCAA this season.

Statistics do not indicate that PJ Hairston leads North Carolina in scoring, but sometimes numbers can be skewed. It is true James Michael McAdoo and Reggie Bullock have tallied more points for the Tar Heels this season, but both have played 250 more minutes than Hairston. The sophomore made a total of 13 three pointers last season. Over his last three games during the ACC Tournament he went 13 of 27 from behind the arc. Hairston was placed into the starting lineup by Roy Williams after the Heels lost by 26 points at Miami February 9. After dropping a five point decision at Duke with Hairston in the lineup, UNC ran off six straight wins and eight out of nine. He has scored 20 points or more in three of the last five games and has changed his role from contributor, to most important player for opponents to try and stop.

MoMo Jones once scored 27 points in an Arizona win against Cal. Another time he hit the game winning 17-foot runner to beat Stanford. After two seasons in Tuscon, Jones transferred to Iona. The New York native moved closer to home to be in close proximity to his ailing grandmother, and so that he could be a part of his son Jace's upbringing. Jones was the third leading scorer in the country this year at 23 points per game. Last year he led the Gaels to the NCAA Tournament only to shoot three for 14 in a six point loss against BYU. He topped 30 points six times this season and had 40 in a game early in the year against Quinnipiac. Jones has made more than 6.6 free throws per game this season. He will be challenged by Ohio State's defensive standout Aaron Craft in the first round.

It has been a tour of the United States for New Mexico State center Sim Bhullar the last few years. Of Indian decent, the Canadian born big man spent a year of high school in Pennsylvania, a prep school season in West Virginia, originally committed to Xavier, and now calls Las Cruces home. At 7'5” and 360 pounds, Bhullar doesn't stray far from the paint, and doesn't need to. He averaged more than 10 points per game this year, grabbed 6.5 rebounds per contest, and swatted about two-and-a-half shots a game. He had 16 points, 15 rebounds, and five blocks in the WAC Championship Game against Texas-Arlington. The gentle giant is always the biggest player on the court, but could he make the biggest difference in the first round against Saint Louis?


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