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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10. N’Faly Dante (Oregon)

A great presence on the basketball court, Dante is a center originally from Mali who has been with the Ducks since back in 2019. He didn’t play much in his first two seasons in Eugene but has steadily developed into one of the best centers in the nation. His raw stats this season are on another level and he’s the big reason why Dana Altman’s squad is back in the dance as Pac-12 Tournament champions.

Even after missing two months of play, Dante managed to average 16.2 points, 8.8 rebounds, and 1.9 blocks per game for the Ducks. He didn’t qualify for total statistics, but shot 70% from the field and was part of the Pac-12’s All-Defense team this season. He grabbed 21 rebounds on opening night against Georgia before his knee injury and really went off down the stretch. He led the Ducks to the Pac-12 Tournament by shooting 83%, with 25 points against Colorado in the title game. Dante is unbelievably 88% from the field in the Ducks’ last five games and a must-see force down low.

9. Max Abmas (Texas)

Three seasons ago, Abmas led Oral Roberts to the Sweet Sixteen as a 15-seed and now he’s hoping to have postseason success with the Longhorns. Now a 3000-point scorer for his career, Abmas was a walking bucket across four seasons with those Golden Eagles before opting to transfer to Texas for his fifth and final collegiate season. He’s an exciting scorer who’s still putting up great numbers in the Big 12.

Those numbers are a step below what he was doing in the Summit League, but there are few complaints about averaging 17.1 points and 4.3 assists per game from the Big 12. He remains an excellent shooter, hitting 37% of his 3-pointers and nearly 92% of his free throws. The former two-time Summit League Player of the Year has proven that he can ignite a team at any moment, with 33 points at Baylor a couple weeks ago. Another performance like that in the Big Dance and he can make history with a second program.