The value of these players is sometimes hard to appreciate. Their contributions won't necessarily stand out on a stat sheet, but each one understands what his team needs and delivers it, no questions asked. And without him, things fall apart.
This is an article from the March 25, 2013 issue
MIKE HART, SG, Gonzaga
Hart averaged only 16.7 mpg and made just 20 field goals. Still, the 6' 6" senior has been a vital contributor, whether with his late steal and offensive rebound to clinch a win at Saint Mary's or his lockdown defense on Santa Clara's Kevin Foster, a 17.9 points-per-game scorer who had only four against the Zags.
KYLE ANDERSON, PF, UCLA
The consensus top five recruit wanted to play point guard as a freshman, but Larry Drew II's emergence forced the 6' 9" Anderson to switch to the frontcourt. He makes this team for his attitude—as well as his team-leading 8.6 rebounds. Anderson was a huge reason the Bruins won the Pac-12 regular-season title.
MELVIN EJIM, SF, Iowa State
Even with five seniors on the roster, Ejim, a junior, was voted a co-captain last fall alongside point guard Korie Lucious. "That just shows you the respect everybody has for him," coach Fred Hoiberg says. The 6' 6" Ejim led the Big 12 in rebounding (9.4 per game) while earning a 3.74 GPA as a history major.
ROOSEVELT JONES, SF, Butler
The 6'4" freshman earns minutes by being versatile, averaging 10.1 points, 5.8 rebounds and 3.5 assists and guarding all five positions. And, as illustrated by the game-winning floater he sank to beat Gonzaga on Jan. 19, Jones relishes high-pressure moments. Says coach Brad Stevens, "Fear is not a factor with him."
NATE LUBICK, PF, Georgetown
It's quality over quantity for Lubick, a 6' 8" junior who put up only 7.2 points per game but connected on 59.0% of his shots—tops in the Big East. Not to mention Lubick's leadership on a senior-less team. "He makes sure everyone is where they should be at both ends of the court," says Hoyas coach John Thompson III.
TRAVIS RELEFORD, SG, Kansas
The 6'6" senior averaged 11.5 points and shot 56.4% from the floor, 41.3% from beyond the arc and 80.0% from the free throw line. "Travis is the ultimate glue guy," says coach Bill Self. "He can guard one through four. He's the best at 50-50 balls. He's a great ball mover and facilitator. And he's the ultimate winner."
Teams that held the No. 1 ranking in the AP poll this season, the most since 2008--09. In all, 14 teams made appearances in the top five.
Difference between how well Marquette shoots two-pointers (52.8%) versus three-pointers (30.1%), the greatest disparity of any team in the NCAA tournament.
Deflections by the Louisville defense in three Big East tournament games, including an astounding 58 in a 74--55 quarterfinal win over Villanova.
Team entering the Big Dance for the first time: Florida Gulf Coast. The Eagles claimed the automatic bid from the Atlantic Sun Conference in just their second year of postseason eligibility.
Years since Ole Miss last won an SEC tournament title, which they did by upsetting Florida 66--63.