Busting Brackets

2024 NCAA Tournament: Ranking the top 20 players from the Midwest Region

Purdue Boilermakers guard Braden Smith (3) high-fives Purdue Boilermakers center Zach Edey (15)
Purdue Boilermakers guard Braden Smith (3) high-fives Purdue Boilermakers center Zach Edey (15) / Alex Martin/Journal and Courier / USA
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2. Dalton Knecht (Tennessee)

Undoubtedly one of the most incredible stories of the college basketball season, Knecht started his career at the junior college level before landing at Northern Colorado. While he did put up great numbers as a senior, he was doing it in the Big Sky. Opting to transfer to Tennessee for his final season of eligibility, he’s now putting up even more impressive numbers on college basketball’s big stage in the SEC, filling an important role for the Volunteers.

Knecht averages 21.1 points and 4.7 rebounds per game while shooting nearly 40% from beyond the arc. He led the SEC in scoring this season and really came on strong when it mattered most. Knecht scored 37 against North Carolina, dropped 39 on both Auburn and Florida, and had 40 points against Kentucky at the end of the regular season. He was the SEC Player of the Year for a reason and might be the second-best player in the entire nation, not just in the Midwest regional.

1. Zach Edey (Purdue)

Most 7’4 centers from Canada don’t put up these kinds of numbers but Edey is just a special player. There wasn’t a ton to love about his game when he arrived at Purdue four years ago, but he’s developed into the nation’s best player, winning AP Player of the Year last season and likely repeating the feat this year as well. The Boilermakers are hoping to send Edey off on a high note, not repeating last year’s upset.

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Edey averages 24.4 points and 11.7 rebounds and leads the entire nation in scoring, offensive rebounding, and made 2-point field goals. He’s the best rebounder in the Big Ten and has clearly been a special presence down low for the Boilermakers. He’s scored at least 22 points in Purdue’s last ten ballgames, is efficient around the rim, gets to the free throw line, and is a matchup nightmare for every team in the NCAA Tournament field. Nobody can quite compare to the production that Edey has achieved this season.