Results may vary

X-factors could determine how long their teams stick around this March

Originally Published: March 19, 2013
By Jordan Brenner | ESPN The Magazine
Rasheed SulaimonAP Photo/Gerry BroomeRasheed Sulaimon is Duke's best perimeter player when Coach K puts him on the court.

THEY SCORE, but they're never the primary option. They defend, but their jobs extend beyond locking down a top scorer. They start, but they don't star. Meet the guys commonly referred to as X-factors: players whose performance is often a bellwether of their team's success. These X's exhibit great degrees of variance, blowing up in wins and falling apart in losses. And for a six-pack of top NCAA tourney teams, a deep run may ultimately hinge on whichever version of their X shows up over the next few weeks.

Jordan Brenner | email

ESPN The Magazine contributing writer
Brenner writes for ESPN The Magazine and ESPN Insider. He covers the NBA and college basketball.