Round one of the 2011 NCAA basketball tournament is in the books and its time to take a quick look back at this year’s best players and best games in the first 32 games. There were dozens of outstanding performances to choose from so it wasn’t easy, but a few players contributions were so outstanding that they deserve mention as the top 5 best players in the NCAA tourney so far.
5 Best Players in 2011 March Madness Round One
Almost everyone knows about Jimmer Fredette, BYU’s smiling scoring machine. But not everyone knows how important Fredette is to the Cougars. He put up 32 points on Wofford and added seven assists in a dominant performance. And No. 3 seed BYU needed Jimmer to step up as the rest of the team went cold in the second half, and Jimmer pretty much single-handedly beat back the No. 14 seed Terriers attempted comeback.
Kemba Walker is another player that clearly enjoys the game of basketball. And beyond that, Walker is the heart and soul of this No. 3 seed Connecticut team, both on and off the floor. Walker had a fantastic all-around game in the Huskies big win over Bucknell including 18 points, 8 assists and 12 rebounds. The most enjoyable thing about watching Kemba Walker is how easy he makes everything look.
Pittsburgh junior guard Ashton Gibbs had a breakout performance in the No. 1 seed Panthers easy win over N.C.-Asheville. He lit up the scoreboard for 26 points, including 6 for 9 from behind the three point arc. Gibbs had been in bit of a late season slump so it was good to see him get hot.
No. 11 seed Gonzaga is advancing deeper into the Big Dance again thanks to Marquise Carter. While it was a great all-around team performance by Gonzaga, Carter was instrumental in the Zags first round upset over No. 6 seed St. John’s with 24 points, 6 rebounds and 6 assists.
North Carolina is so loaded with talent that someone is bound to step up almost every game. This time it was junior forward Tyler Zeller who stepped up to the plate, scoring 32 points and racking up nine rebounds in the Tar Heels easy win over Long Island. Zeller hit 9 of 14 shots from the field and was 14 of 19 from the charity stripe.
For more on the best players in college basketball and the 2011 NCAA tournament see:
2011 NCAA Basketball Tournament Wrap Up – March Madness First Round Upsets, Scores and More
First Round NCAA Tournament Scores – 2011 March Madness Results
2011 NCAA Tournament Scores and Results – March Madness Day 1