The 2023 Men’s NCAA Tournament concludes this weekend with the Final Four in Houston, featuring a roster of remaining teams that only the greatest scriptwriters could have conceived: No. 4 UConn (29-8), No. 5 Miami (29-7), No. 5 San Diego State (31-6), and No. 9 Florida Atlantic (35-3).
If you claim to have penciled in the Owls heading to Houston, we’ll stop you right there, because you’re lying.
With stand-alone games that should feature a massive audience, some of the more under-the-radar players have a chance to make a name for themselves with a breakout performance.
Below is a look at a few of those candidates from each team.
Lamont Butler, San Diego State
While Matt Bradley (12.5 PPG) lead the Aztecs in scoring through the regular season, it was Butler that chipped in with a team-high 18 points in San Diego State’s Elite Eight win over No. 6 Creighton. The third-year guard leads the team in assists (3.3 per game) and has been a swiss army knife when it comes to contributing in all facets of the game, averaging 2.7 RPG and 1.5 SPG.
Vladislav Goldin, Florida Atlantic
It’s a little tough to be “under the radar” when you’re 7’1”, but that’s the case given the fact Goldin’s impact is felt outside the scoring box score. Granted, his 10.3 PPG is still solid, but it’s his team-leading 6.6 RPG that gives the Owls more than a puncher’s chance heading into the Final Four. Goldin’s rim-protecting prowess was a vital part of their upset win over Kansas State and should serve them well against the Aztecs on Saturday.
Jordan Hawkins, UConn
Adama Sanogo is a force to be reckoned with on any given night, but in the Huskies’ last two games, it’s been Hawkins that has torched opposing defenses. The second-year guard has put up 44 points for UConn through the Sweet 16 and Elite Eight and is averaging 16.3 points, 1.3 assists, and 3.8 rebounds per game this season.
Jordan Miller, Miami
The Hurricanes couldn’t buy a bucket from deep as they were down double-digits to No. 2 Texas in the Elite Eight, and yet it didn’t matter thanks to Miller’s heroics. The fifth-year guard finished with 27 points on 7-of-7 shooting from the field and a perfect 13-of-13 from the charity stripe. He’s averaging 6.1 rebounds and 1.3 steals per game heading into the Final Four, and Miami will need every bit of that production to slow down a red-hot Huskies team.