March Madness: Cade Cunningham, Luka Garza and the players who will dominate each region

Oklahoma State star Cade Cunningham. Mandatory Credit: Sarah Phipps/The Oklahoman via USA TODAY NETWORK
Oklahoma State star Cade Cunningham. Mandatory Credit: Sarah Phipps/The Oklahoman via USA TODAY NETWORK /

March Madness got its name because of the players who turn the NCAA Tournament into a spectacle. In 2021, these four players will be the stars of their region.

The 2021 NCAA Tournament has been a long time coming. Finally, the nation’s best college basketball players will be unleashed in the return of March Madness.

Each of the four regions features title-contending teams and exciting stars.

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Which players are set up to become tournament legends?

West: Luka Garza, Iowa

Consensus All-American center Luke Garza leads the NCAA in points and player efficiency rating, so he’s not just a mindless scorer. He gets the most out of every minute he plays with all-around contributions and very few mistakes. He didn’t get his shot to impact the NCAA Tournament last year when he really hit his stride but averaged 16.5 points in two games as a sophomore. He’s grown considerably as a player since then. Watch out, West region.

South: Duane Washington Jr., Ohio State

Any dangerous tournament team needs a player who gets hot at the right moment. Duan Washington Jr. looks like the one for Ohio State. Washington Jr. has been a scoring machine lately, putting up 32 points in the Buckeye’s overtime loss to Illinois in the Big Ten Tournament title. Before that, he had 24 points against Michigan and 20 points against Purdue. He has been particularly devastating from distance, hitting at least four in each of the last three games, including 5-of-10 on Sunday.

Midwest: Cade Cunningham, Oklahoma State

Cade Cunningham is the most talented player in college basketball and the presumptive top pick in the upcoming NBA Draft. The outstanding freshman has averaged 20.2 points per game this season with 6.3 rebounds, 3.5 assists and 1.4 steals. There’s seemingly nothing he can’t get done on the basketball court. He’s spent the last few months painting the Big 12 Oklahoma State orange. The NCAA Tournament is his next canvas. Of all the must-watch players who will suit up in Indianapolis, he’s the biggest of them all.

East: Herbert Jones, Alabama

They say defense wins championships and Herbert Jones proved it with Alabama. Jones led the Crimson Tide to an SEC regular-season and SEC Tournament title with his signature defensive presence and an explosion of scoring that should have the East bracket shaking in their boots. Jones was the SEC’s Player of the Year thanks more to his defensive work and team value than his ability to put up points. He averaged a career-best 11.2 points while dominating games in every other way. However, when Alabama needed him most in the SEC Tournament final against Tennessee, he produced 21 points, 14 rebounds, four assists, three steals and a block.

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