Pick Six: Veterans to watch as NCAA Tournament begins

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Grand Canyon's Asbjrn Midtgaard (33) shoots against New Mexico State during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game for the championship of the Western Athletic Conference men's tournament Saturday, March 13, 2021, in Las Vegas. (AP Photo/Chase Stevens)

INDIANAPOLIS – There has never been a better time to have senior leadership in the NCAA Tournament than this season.

There was no real offseason for young players to improve. No exhibitions and fewer non-conference games for teams to come together. And the shadow cast by COVID-19 that threatened to derail a season with a single positive test.

So while experienced teams always have an edge during March Madness, those with seniors running the show may be at an even bigger advantage this year. Iowa star Luka Garza and Gonzaga counterpart Corey Kispert already are household names worth watching, but there are plenty of other seniors that should threaten to steal the spotlight.


Fan of heavyweight wrestling? Tune into a first-round game between Garza's second-seeded Hawkeyes and No. 15 seed Grand Canyon. That's where you'll find the 6-foot-11, 265-pound All-American banging bodies with fellow senior Asbjorn Midtgaard, the 7-foot, 270-pound Wichita State transfer and leading scorer for the Antelopes.

Virginia intends to play after withdrawing from the ACC Tournament because of COVID-19 protocols, which means fans will get to say Sam Hauser running the show. The transfer from Marquette averages 16 points and 6.7 rebounds.

Alex Barcello has become such a star at BYU the past two seasons that some forget he began his career at Arizona.