Top 12 NCAA tourney players
Cleanthony Early among best performers of the first weekend
The first weekend of the NCAA tournament was what we have come to expect: overtime games; upsets in the round of 64; some semblance of order being restored in the round of 32; a few close games; a few blowouts; a few well-played, great games; a few close but poorly played games. It all blends together to produce the most compelling and lengthy college basketball bender of the year.
Then there were the players, who fought, scrapped and competed their tails off, some performing at extraordinarily high levels. A dozen caught my attention specifically and prompted yet another list: the top performers of the opening weekend of the tournament.
Without any further preamble, here's who most impressed me most through Sunday's action:
Players usually don't get accolades after a loss, but Early was the best player in the first weekend of play. In two games, the versatile, stretch big averaged 27.0 points and 7.0 rebounds while hitting 21 of 32 field goal attempts, including 7-of-14 from 3-point range. Early hit big shot after big shot, ran the floor and defended at a high level. For anyone who doubted whether Wichita State had any pros, the Shockers did. Early is an NBA player and was magnificent in the tournament.
To see the entire list of Jay Bilas' top 12 tournament players thus far, sign up for Insider today.
MORE MEN'S COLLEGE BASKETBALL HEADLINES
- Duke tops Stanford, wins Coaches vs. Cancer
- Gators' Carter, Finney-Smith iffy for Bahamas
- Rhode Island shocks No. 21 Nebraska in OT
- Source: Texas PG Taylor out 4-6 weeks
MOST SENT STORIES ON ESPN.COM
College Hoops on Insider
John Gasaway writes why Texas can overtake Kansas and win the Big 12 this season.