Players to Watch in March Madness 2024: Edey Leading the Way

Credit: Robert Goddin-USA TODAY Sports
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If you’re a college basketball fan, it’s the most wonderful time of the year.

The regular season is winding down, so that means March Madness is right around the corner. The conference championship races are always exciting. The conference tournaments are, too. But the NCAA tournament is always the main event, and it’s a stage where stars are born.

With March Madness fast approaching, it’s a great time to familiarize yourself with the best players in college basketball, which could ultimately help you with some of your decisions in the March Madness odds. Here are the 2024 players to watch for March Madness:

Zach Edey | Purdue | Center

23.2 PPG, 11.9 RPG, 2.3 BPG, 61.3 FG%, 71.1 FT%

Zach Edey is the overwhelming favorite to win the National Player of the Year for the second consecutive season, but the 7-foot-4 senior has his sights set on major team accomplishments this year. Edey and Purdue were shockingly knocked out of last year’s tournament in the first round by No. 16 seed Fairleigh Dickinson.

The Boilermakers became the second No. 1 seed to lose to a No. 16 seed, joining the 2018 Virginia team. Virginia responded by winning the national championship the very next year. Can Purdue follow that playbook? If such a turnaround can come to fruition, it will take a herculean effort from Edey, who is third in the nation in both scoring and rebounding and has dominated Big Ten foes on a nightly basis. The tallest player in March Madness, Edey has also turned into a legitimate first-round NBA prospect.

Credit: Brad Mills-USA TODAY Sports

Tristen Newton | UConn | Guard

15.4 PPG, 6.9 RPG, 5.7 APG, 1.1 SPG

Tristen Newton was a key member of last year’s national championship team for UConn, but he has taken on an even bigger role this year as the Huskies aim to repeat. Newton, a fifth-year senior who began his career at East Carolina, hasn’t shot the ball quite as well from the outside but his game-to-game consistency has been key to UConn’s ascent to the top of the rankings.

Newton routinely fills up the stat sheet and sets up open looks for long-range bombers like Cam Spencer and Alex Karaban, as well as drop offs to big man Donovan Clingan around the basket. In a testament to Newton’s all-around impact on the game, he averages more rebounds per game (6.9) than the 7-foot-2 Clingan (6.5). He’s the kind of guard who can take over a game in March.

R.J. Davis | North Carolina | Guard

21.3 PPG, 3.6 RPG, 3.6 APG, 41.0 3P%, 90.4 FT%

Speaking of great guards, how about the season R.J. Davis is having in Chapel Hill? After finishing as the national runner-up in 2022, North Carolina missed the NCAA tournament altogether last season, but you should keep an eye on them for some March Madness betting trends this year. That led to a reconfiguration of the roster with Davis stepping into the role of UNC’s top shot-taker. It has suited him and the team well.

Davis is scoring the ball at a high level while shooting 41 percent from deep and 90 percent from the free-throw line. Along the way, he led North Carolina to a 9-0 start in ACC play as he starred alongside big man Armando Bacot. Davis and the Tar Heels are battling rival Duke for the ACC regular season championship with a possible No. 1 seed in the NCAA tournament within reach. And with the ball in Davis’ hands, UNC is capable of another deep March Madness run.

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Caleb Love | Arizona | Guard

18.8 PPG, 5.0 RPG, 3.2 APG, 86.4 FT%, 43.4 FG%

While Davis is having a wonderful season at North Carolina, his former backcourt mate Caleb Love has found success after a well-publicized transfer from UNC to Arizona. Arizona is in first place in the Pac-12 as Love has developed a more all-around game. He leads the Wildcats in scoring at 18.8 points per game, but he’s also pitched in a career-best five rebounds per game along with 3.2 assists per game. He’s finishing at the rim more effectively and has been more consistent on defense.

Arizona was a No. 2 seed in last year’s NCAA tournament, but was upset in the first round by No. 15 seed Princeton. Love made several huge shots during North Carolina’s run to the national championship game back in 2022. His previous postseason experience should be a tremendous asset for an Arizona program that hasn’t advanced beyond the Sweet 16 since 2015.

Dalton Knecht | Tennessee | Guard

20.0 PPG, 4.9 RPG, 2.0 APG, 47.6 FG%, 40.0 3P%

Has any transfer had a bigger impact this season than Dalton Knecht? As his career has progressed from junior college to North Colorado to now Tennessee, Knecht has emerged as one of the best players in the country and a bonafide NBA prospect.

At 6-foot-6, Knecht can score in a variety of ways and has shown the ability to take over games with 12 outings of 20-plus points, including five games with more than 30 points. He exploded for 37 vs. North Carolina and then topped that with 39 in a win over Florida. Tennessee has been plagued by early NCAA tournament exits, but the addition of Knecht makes the Volunteers much more dangerous in a single-elimination format.

Credit: Reese Strickland-USA TODAY Sports

Kevin McCullar Jr. | Kansas | Forward

19.0 PPG, 6.4 RPG, 4.4 APG, 46.3 FG%, 35.2 3P%

Kevin McCullar Jr. has really flourished in his second season at Kansas. That’s not to say he wasn’t a good player for the Jayhawks last year. After all, he was a semifinalist for Defensive Player of the Year. But his all-around game has taken off this year as Kansas looks to win another Big 12 title for coach Bill Self.

McCullar has almost doubled his scoring average, going from 10.7 points per game up to 19.0. He’s also shooting a career-best 35.2 percent from long distance and is second on the team in rebounding and assists. This Kansas team lacks depth, so McCullar and Michigan transfer Hunter Dickinson carry a heavy load. Consistent scoring from McCullar in addition to his stalwart defense will make him one of the important individual players in the NCAA tournament.

Jamal Shead | Houston | Guard

13.3 PPG, 5.8 APG, 3.9 RPG, 2.3 SPG, 44.6 FG%, 35.1 3P%

Houston is one of the toughest defensive teams in the country and Jamal Shead is the guy who sets the tone. The Cougars made their transition from the AAC to the rugged Big 12 this year but find themselves atop the conference standings with only five regular season games remaining.

The Cougars will go as far as their guards will take them. Not only is Shead Houston’s best defender, but he also orchestrates the offense as the point guard. He’s averaging a career-best 13.3 points per game but is also up to 5.8 assists per game and is second in the Big 12 at 2.3 steals per game.

Credit: Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports

Tyler Kolek | Marquette | Guard

15.2 PPG, 7.6 APG, 4.7 RPG, 1.7 SPG, 40.6 3P%

Tyler Kolek, Marquette’s star senior point guard, is an incredible decision-maker out of the pick and roll. Kolek can score at all three levels, knocking down 48.3% of his shots from the field, 40.6% from long distance and 88.2% from the free-throw line. And when he’s not carving up defenses with his scoring, he’s doing so by setting up his teammates. Kolek is one of the best distributors in the country. He’s notched at least 10 assists in six Big East games so far this season, including a school-record 18 in a blowout win over DePaul on Wednesday night. When Kolek is clicking, Marquette is an extremely dangerous team.

Kyle Filipowski | Duke | Center

16.9 PPG, 8.2 RPG, 2.7 APG, 1.7 BPG, 50.2 FG%, 35.6 3P%

Can Duke make a deep NCAA tournament run in its second season under Jon Scheyer? The Blue Devils were eliminated in the second-round last season, but several of the top players from that team are back. That includes versatile big man Kyle Filipowski. There aren’t many 7-footers who can beat you on the block, off the dribble or from beyond the 3-point line. But Filipowski certainly can. He’s making more than half (50.2%) of his shots and is one of the ACC’s leading rebounders (8.3) and shot blockers (1.7). Duke relies on quite a few freshmen, but a player with postseason experience like Filipowski needs to lead the way once March rolls around.

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Jaedon LeDee | San Diego State | Forward

20.5 PPG, 8.2 RPG, 56.4 FG%, 39.4 3P%

San Diego State advanced all the way to the national championship game last year but lost a major portion of its top contributors as the calendar turned to the 2023-24 season. SDSU added some talent to its roster, but it has been Jaedon LeDee who has provided the biggest boost. LeDee has gone from a key bench piece to a star.

Last year, he averaged 7.9 points and 5.3 rebounds in 18.1 minutes per game. This year, he’s up to 20.5 points and 8.2 rebounds per game while shooting an efficient 56.4% from the field. The Aztecs are scratching and clawing to win the Mountain West, but are a sure thing to get back to the tournament. If LeDee keeps playing like this, SDSU can make another deep tournament run.

Want more insights on March Madness betting markets?

If you’re looking for more expert insight into March Madness odds and getting an edge on the rest of the market. Check out more of our articles:

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