March Madness Day One: Studs and Duds
If you missed some of today’s action and want to see which teams advanced to the next round, check out our 2013 NCAA Tournament Headquarters for all of the box scores and game recaps.
Every year during March Madness, there are some players who step up and elevate their game and there are some players who shrink in the moment and struggle.
Each day, HOOPSWORLD will let you know which players fall into each category. Here were the studs and duds of Thursday’s games.
Derrick Nix, Michigan State – Nix picked the right time to have his best game of the season. The senior forward had his coming out party in Michigan State’s 65-54 win over Valparaiso, finishing with 23 points on 10-17 shooting from the field as well as 15 rebounds and two steals. During the regular season, Nix was the Spartans’ fourth option behind Keith Appling, Gary Harris and Adreian Payne, but there’s no question he was their most productive player today.
Dwayne Evans, Saint Louis – Saint Louis had no problem with New Mexico State, winning by 20 points, and Evans was a big reason for the blowout victory. The forward finished with 24 points on 11-16 shooting from the field in 34 minutes. The Billikens’ other starters combined to score just 12 points on 4-15 shooting from the field so this game may have had a very different outcome if Evans didn’t go off.
Russ Smith, Louisville – Smith is one of the stars of the tournament and he showed why on Thursday. The junior guard was dominant in Louisville’s 79-48 beat down of North Carolina A&T. Not only did Smith score 23 points on 10-16 shooting from the field, he also had eight steals and three assists. Smith is one of the most exciting players in the nation and he’s capable of making a huge impact on both ends of the floor. He can be out of control and inefficient at times, but that wasn’t an issue today.
Malcolm Armstead, Wichita State – The Shockers lived up to their name on Thursday, pulling off the 73-55 upset against Pittsburgh. Armstead led the way for Wichita State, finishing with 22 points on 6-14 shooting from the field. The senior guard also had five assists and three rebounds. Cleanthony Early was equally outstanding for Wichita State, pouring in 21 points of his own off of the Shockers’ bench.
Dorian Green, Colorado State – After averaging just 12.8 points during the regular season, Green erupted for 26 points in Colorado State’s victory over Missouri. The senior guard shot 6-13 from the field and 11-12 from the free throw line. Green also did an excellent job protecting the ball, turning it over just one time in the 84-72 win.
Vander Blue, Marquette – The Golden Eagles were in trouble, trailing the Davidson Wildcats by six points with one minute remaining. However, Blue stepped up and made clutch play after clutch play. He hit a clutch three-point shot bring Marquette within two points and then he hit the game-winning layup with one second left. He then ensured that Davidson wouldn’t get a final shot off when he stole the final inbounds pass. Blue was solid all game long, finishing with 16 points, but it was his play in the final minute and a half that led Marquette to victory and earned him a spot on this list.
Glen Robinson III, Michicgan – Entering this game, there was a lot of talk about the match-up between Trey Burke and Nate Wolters, but Robinson III stole the show. He was incredibly efficient, missing just one shot all afternoon. He finished with 21 points on 8-9 shooting from the field. He also chipped in six rebounds and played solid defense. Tim Hardaway Jr. also had an excellent game for Michigan, contributing 21 points on 8-13 shooting as well as four rebounds. Burke struggled and had to leave the game for a stretch after a hard fall under the basket, but his star teammates picked up the slack.
Juvonte Reddic, VCU – Really, the entire VCU roster deserves to be on the studs list for the way they destroyed Akron, 88-42. However, Reddic gets the nod because he scored 21 points on 9-12 shooting from the field and contributed six rebounds and two steals as well. Troy Daniels had a phenomenal game too, finishing with 23 points and five rebounds.
Tray Woodall, Pittsburgh – During the regular season, Woodall was Pittsburgh’s leading scorer and top option. However, he had his worst game of the season today, which is a big reason why the Panthers weren’t able to advance. Woodall had just two points on 1-12 shooting from the field, including five misses from long range. Not only was Woodall missing shots, he also had five turnovers and five fouls.
Mike Muscala, Bucknell – Muscala was expected to have a big game against Butler since he’s generally considered one of the nation’s best big men. However, Butler did an excellent job containing the senior center, holding him to just nine points on 4-17 from the field. Joe Willman kept Bucknell in the game, but his 20 points weren’t enough. The Bison really needed Muscala to play well and he didn’t deliver.
Marcus Smart, Oklahoma State – All eyes were on Smart since he had been Oklahoma State’s star throughout the season and will likely be one of the top picks in the 2013 NBA Draft. However, Smart didn’t rise to the occasion. He struggled against the Oregon Ducks, specifically on offense, finishing with just 14 points on 5-13 shooting while also turning the ball over five times. Smart did have nine boards, five steals and four assists, but he couldn’t put points on the board and match Oregon’s scoring.
Matthew Dellavedova, Saint Mary’s – Dellavedova was Saint Mary’s top scorer during the regular season, averaging 16 points and dropping 30 or more points several times during the year. However, he couldn’t find his shot against Memphis. The senior guard had just 10 points on 3-13 shooting from the field as well as six turnovers. He did a solid job of setting his teammates up to the tune of seven assists, but he wasn’t the go-to scorer that he’d been all season long and that Saint Mary’s desperately needed.
Elias Harris, Gonzaga – Gonzaga was nearly on the wrong end of the worst upset in NCAA tournament history. Southern didn’t look like a No. 16 seed on Thursday, playing Gonzaga until the final seconds despite entering the game as a 22.5 point underdog. One of the biggest reasons for the Bulldogs’ struggles was Harris’ lackluster outing. He had five points on 2-10 shooting. Fortunately for Harris, Gonzaga survived, but he’ll have to step up going forward for the team to make a deep run as expected.
Nate Wolters, South Dakota State – Entering the match-up against Michigan, there was a lot of talk about Wolters and whether he could lead the Jackrabbits past the Wolverines. He was compared to Bryce Drew and hyped up to no end. However, Wolters didn’t put on a show like everyone expected. He had just 10 points on 3-14 shooting from the field, including 0-5 from three-point range. Wolters was impressive for much of the year, but he didn’t play well on Thursday.