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.

SPONSORED HEADLINES

MORE MEN'S COLLEGE BASKETBALL HEADLINES

MOST SENT STORIES ON ESPN.COM