With the NCAA tournament set to start this week, there are already names that we’ve come to be familar with throughout the season. There’s Jimmer and Nolan, Kawhi and Sullinger. But as the NCAA tournament unfolds in the next few weeks, here are a few other names you may become familiar with:
NOAH DAHLMAN (Wofford, 21-12): The senior averaged 20 points and 5.5 rebounds in the regular season, as the Terriers reached the 20-win milestone in back-to-back seasons for the first time since 1965.
The Terriers then swept the Southern Conference tournament to head to the NCAA Tournament for only the second time in school history. The first time it happened? Last year.
It couldn’t have happened without Dahlman, who has scored 1,991 points in his collegiate career. Dahlman led the way with 20 points in the Southern Conference tournament title game against the College of Charleston, and threw the ball so high when the buzzer sounded it hit the scoreboard that towered above the court.
Dahlman is part of the “Minnesota Mafia” on Wofford, a group of three players (teammates Cameron Rundles and Jamar Diggs being the other two) for the Terriers who hail from the Gopher State.
Dahlman will have his hands full as he attempts to slow down BYU’s Jimmer Fredette in Wofford’s first round matchup.
IAN CLARK (Belmont, 30-4): The Bruins have won 12 in a row, and 21 of its last 22. They may not receive the same national attention that other schools with 30 wins may have (such as Duke, Kansas, San Diego State or BYU), but perhaps they should. If you are a believer in Ken Pomeroy’s metrics, then you know that he ranks them 20th nationally.
It’s hard to argue when you see that the Bruins win on average of 18.5 points per game, including a 87-46 thrashing of North Florida the Atlantic Sun Conference tournament championship game on Saturday.
Clark, a sophomore, leads a balanced attack for the Bruins. A first team All Atlantic Sun Conference selection, Clark averages 12.4 points and 2.4 rebounds a game. He has differentiated himself among a team that employs an 11-man rotation and shoots a combined 38 percent from downtown.
They will play Wisconsin in the opening round.
KEVIN ANDERSON (Richmond, 27-7): It’s been a decade since Richmond first joined the Atlantic 10, and it took until Sunday before the Spiders claimed its first Atlantic 10 title.
A 67-54 win over Dayton on Sunday secured Richmond’s spot in the NCAA tournament with Anderson leading the way with 23. He averaged 22 points over the conference championship (he averages 16.3 for the season) while having the capacity crowd inside the Boardwalk Hall chanting M-V-P.
“As far as him making every big shot, that’s a broken record at Richmond,” coach Chris Mooney said to reporters after the game. “He has made so many big shots for us and so many big plays for us in his career, I could not overstate how much he has meant to our program.”
Perhaps Vanderbilt, who the Spiders play in the opening round, will feel the same way.