College Basketball

NCAA Tournament: Who are each team’s most unexpected stars ahead of the Final Four stage?

Antonio Kozlow profile picture
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20230131 AD1736 MIAMI Hurricanes vs VIRGINIA TECH

Over the years, we’ve witnessed NBA royalty take their first steps into professional basketball after representing their colleges at the Final Four stage in the NCAA Tournament. We are talking about legends like Patrick Ewing, Magic Johnson, Carmelo Anthony and even recent stars like Lakers’ Anthony Davis. 

However, most of these were destined to be greats ever since they first stepped on a basketball court. There are also the unexpected stars who entered March Madness’ biggest stages and shined in the spotlight. In the past, we’ve had players such as Luke Hancock who suprisingly took Louisville to the title in 2013, or even Vilanova’s 2018 championship win led by Donte DiVincenzo.

Now were are only days away from the NCAA Tournament’s Final Four, with no top seeds making it to the last stages. This year, it’s time for Connecticut, Florida Atlantic, Miami, and San Diego State to show who’s fittest to conquer the title.

Every single one of these squads has had an X-factor in their roster, a player who has proven himself invaluable in their March Madness stretch. These are some of our unexpected nominees for the Most Outstanding Player honors of the tournament:

Nick Boyd, Florida Atlantic

NCAA Tournament: Who are each team's most unexpected stars ahead of the Final Four stage?

Florida Atlantic’s strategy is to share the ball, passing it quickly and with intention. But the player who can see between the lines of rival defenses and deliver crucial passes around the court is redshirt freshman Nick Boyd. Currently holding the team’s record for assists this season, with 92 to his name, he’s also the Owls’ fourth best scorer at 8.9 points per contest.

His best performance of this NCAA Tournament was the Sweet Sixteen clash against Tennessee, as he dropped 12 points and won 8 rebounds that night.

Norchad Omier, Miami

NCAA Tournament: Who are each team's most unexpected stars ahead of the Final Four stage?

Miami’s strong defense has been one of their essential assets behind their impressive March Madness run this month, and Norchad Omier is responsable for this. The young athlete owns the team-high 10.1 rebounds per game record, even though he stands at six-foot-seven and fights off even mightier centers.

But the secret behind his success is his versatility, as the foward is also the squad’s fourth leading scorer with 13.3 points per match this season. One of his highlights of the NCAA Tournament was his 12-point game against Houston in the Sweet Sixteen stage, also adding an impressive 13 rebounds to his stat line.

Micah Parrish, San Diego State

NCAA Tournament: Who are each team's most unexpected stars ahead of the Final Four stage?

Even though he is mostly part of the Aztecs’ rotation, the former Oakland University transfer is dropping an average of 7.6 points a game. But even coming from the bench, the guard is able to contribute team-high displays as he did against Furman in the second round, scoring 16 in total. However, the kid’s even better at defending, as he’s accumulated 26 rebounds during San Diego State’s March Madness run.

He’ll be mostly remember by his constant three-point threat last week against former title-favorites Alabama Crimson Tide. The Aztecs beat the No.1 seed 71 to 64.

Joey Calcaterra, Connecticut

NCAA Tournament: Who are each team's most unexpected stars ahead of the Final Four stage?

Even though three-point shooting expert Jordan Hawkins is arguably the Huskies’ best player this campaign, Connecticut wouldn’t of made it this far if it wasn’t for Joey Calcaterra. In the team’s last match, for example, the young athlete came off the bench to score 8 crucial points for UConn, and adding four rebounds to his name.

The Huskies absolutely creamed No.3 seed Gonzaga in the West Region’s Finals 82 to 54.

Antonio is a life long sports enthusiast and professional journalist, who shares an obssesive urge to find and dig up the most interesting facts to guide gamblers towards more exciting, yet safe bets. In his own words, ''you can never really know enough about the things you love''.

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