The game may be more 3-point oriented than ever, but the big fellas inside can still impact the game. Whether it’s on the block, on the boards or stretching the floor, big men will be a major part of this year’s NCAA tournament. Below you’ll find the post players you need to know.
Brice Johnson, North Carolina: Johnson is an All-American and potential first-round draft pick after the 6-foot-10 senior’s season averages of 16.6 points and 10.6 rebounds per game.
Jakob Poeltl, Utah: A likely top-10 pick in this June’s NBA draft, the 7-footer is averaging 17.6 points and 9 rebounds per game while shooting 65.6 percent from the floor. He’s the guy that Utah builds their offense — and their defense — around. Not bad for a team that’s a No. 3 seed.
Ben Bentil, Providence: As much as people love Kris Dunn, there’s an argument to be made that Bentil was actually the best player for Providence. He averaged better than 21 points, he hits threes and he provides the Friars with some kind of offensive balance. Anyone that saw him pop off for 38 points against Butler in the Big East tournament knows what I’m saying.
Georges Niang, Iowa State: The man best known for his YMCA game is back in the tournament for the fourth and final time after his best career season in which he scored just under 20 points per game while shooting 54.7 percent from the floor and 38.1 percent from 3-point range. His versatile game and endless array of moves inside make him fun to watch and hard to stop.
Perry Ellis, Kansas: The Jayhawks’ elder statesman is one of the most consistent – and consistently productive – big men in the country. The jokes about his age and extended tenure at Kansas are funny, but it minimizes just how good he has been for the Jayhawks.
Kyle Wiltjer and Domantas Sabonis, Gonzaga: This duo combined to average 38.1 points, 18.1 rebounds and 3.1 assists this past season with their skill and size. One of the best interior combos in the country.
Jameel Warney, Stone Brook The 6-foot-8 Warney was a beast for the Seawolves this year, shooting 63.7 percent from the floor and averaging just shy of 20 points per game and grabbing 10.7 rebounds per night. He’s one of the country’s best shot blockers as well, swatting away 10.1 percent of attempts.
Skal Labissiere, Kentucky: The 6-foot-11 Haiti native hasn’t lived up to huge expectations this season, but appeared to be turning a corner earlier this month before another string of unproductive performances. Still, his talent makes him extremely dangerous. He may be the biggest x-factor in the NCAA tournament.
Nigel Hayes, Wisconsin: Hayes’ season hasn’t got as swimmingly as many who projected him as a lottery pick thought it might, but the Badger junior is still a productive player who helped coach Greg Gard engineer Wisconsin’s surge late this season.
Rico Gathers and Johnathan Motley, Baylor: These two are rebounding fiends for the Bears. Together they pull down 16.2 per game. Gathers ranks No. 1 in the country with an offensive rebounding percentage of 18.7 while Motley’s ranks 76 at 12.7. Motley is the more dangerous offensive weapon with a skilled game while Gathers, who will pursue an NFL career after this season, is the bruiser.
Josh Scott, Colorado: Vastly underrated. Scott was one of the best big men in the country this season.
Jarrod Uthoff, Iowa: He had an all-american caliber season … that was mostly built on what he did for the first three months of the year. In the last three weeks, he — and Iowa — have really struggled.
A.J. Hammons, Purdue: The 7-foot Hammons will be looking to play himself into first-round consideration following a season in which he averaged 14.9 points, 2.4 blocks and 8 rebounds in just 24.2 minutes per game.
Ivan Rabb, Cal: The highly-touted 6-foot-11 freshman has shot 62 percent from the floor anda veraged 12.5 points and 8.5 rebounds per game.
Zach Auguste, Notre Dame: The 6-foot-9 forward averaged a double-double of 14.4 points and 19.8 rebounds during his senior season.
Devin Williams, West Virginia: Williams may be the toughest player on one of the nation’s toughest teams. He put up 13.3 points and 9.3 rebounds in 25.2 minutes per game this season.
Diamond Stone and Robert Carter, Maryland: Stone, one of the nation’s most sought-after recruits last year, hasn’t put up huge numbers this season, but still is a likely first-rounder. Stone and Carter combined for 25.7 points and 12.3 rebounds per game.
Joel Bolomboy, Weber State: Averaged 17.2 points, 12.7 rebounds and 1.3 blocks per game this season for the Wildcats.