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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20. Anton Watson (Gonzaga)

It’s been quite a ride at Gonzaga for Watson and it’s coming to an end very soon. A fifth-year senior originally from Spokane, he stayed right at home for a successful half-decade with the Bulldogs, playing in the national title game as a sophomore before really developing into a frontcourt fiend in recent seasons.

Watson averages 14.4 points and 7.1 rebounds per game while making 60% of his 2-pointers and 40% of his 3-pointers, albeit with few attempts from long range. He was one of the WCC’s top scorers and rebounders and put 32 points up on UCLA in Maui early in the season. Watson has had some very impactful performances across this season and has the potential to do the same in the Tournament, with this 5-seed Gonzaga capable of surprising some people.

19. Reece Beekman (Virginia)

A four-year starter for the Cavaliers, Beekman has slowly developed into a dynamic point guard while at Virginia and is playing his best ball as a senior. While things haven’t always gone great for the Cavaliers as a team, it’s been a great season for Beekman and he has gotten them back to the Big Dance again.

Beekman averaged 14.3 points and 6.7 assists per game and was named ACC Defensive Player of the Year for a second time, finishing Top 2 in the league in total steals for a third straight season. Very few players had the same kind of defensive impact as Beekman on the season while also playing well on offense. He had double-doubles in both games at the ACC Tournament and is exactly who has to lead the Cavaliers if they have any type of Tournament run ahead of them.