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Heroes of March Madness

Already in 2010's Big Dance, we've seen Jimmer Fredette of BYU, Quincy Pondexter of Washington, Ishmael Smith of Wake Forest, Jordan Crawford of Xavier, Danero Thomas of Murray State, and Omar Samhan of Saint Mary's (twice now) step up and deliver wins to their respective squads. More so than in any other sporting event, March Madness winners are not necessarily the best teams, but the teams with the best players. That's why Kansas and Kentucky are the prohibitive favorites to cut down the nets in Indianapolis - both the Jayhawks and the Wildcats have players who can rise to the occasion and single-handedly pull out a W.

Thomas has already shot his way into Tournament lore with his buzzer-beater to knock off Vanderbilt, but this year's truly Laettner-esque performance has yet to be crafted. It's impossible to guess who the next hero of March will be, but I'll toss out four names to watch: Fredette, Evan Turner of Ohio State, DaSean Butler of West Virginia, and LaceDarius Dunn of Baylor.

With respect to the thrilling upsets and heart-stopping finishes, the best reason to watch the NCAA Tournament is the abundance of heroic performances. Especially in the first weekend, when the match-ups are tighter and the games more unpredictable, one player can take his team over and carry them to one or two improbable victories. Whether it's a lights-out shooter from a mid-major whom few people had heard of (Fredette) or a former stud recruit finally growing into his own Nikes (Pondexter), some of the best March Madness moments come from big-time players transcending their own abilities at critical junctures. If the rest of this tournament is anything like the first two-plus days, us basketball fans have a lot to look forward to in that regard.

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