In the NHL playoffs, you often hear about the “hot goalie.” A netminder comes into the postseason playing well, he stands on his head and then suddenly a team surprisingly finds itself in the conference finals. Well a hot scorer in basketball can do something similar. As we head into March Madness, here are 10 players who are playing hot and racking up the points.
Zion Williamson, Duke
Ever heard of this guy? The presumptive No. 1 pick was out for a while with an injury, but he rejoined the Blue Devils at full power. He tore through Syracuse when he returned, before dropping 31 on the Tar Heels. With a healthy Zion, Duke is a title favorite.
Ja Morant, Murray State
Morant was one of the top scorers in college basketball full stop, basically leading the Racers to a 12 seed by himself. He certainly turned it up down the stretch too. In his last three games he notched 27, 29, and 36 points, respectively, showing that the future top five pick can get it done when it counts.
Fletcher Magee, Wofford
Wofford ended up as a seven seed even though it plays in the lowly Southern Conference. That’s what happens when you go undefeated in your conference and lose only four games on the season. Other than an off game against VMI, which was a blowout so he wasn’t really needed, Magee hasn’t failed to score at least 18 points since Jan. 12. That includes four 30-point games.
Cassius Winston, Michigan State
The Michigan Wolverines will be happy not to see Winston again anytime soon. The Spartans and Wolverines met three times late in the season, and Winston dropped 27, 23, and 14 points in those games. That 14-point Big 10 title game wasn’t one of his most productive showings, as he has been racking up 20-point games for a couple of months.
Amir Coffey, Minnesota
To help get the Golden Gophers in the Big Dance, Coffey had to play a ton of minutes down the stretch. It helped him get buckets, as he had 21 points in five of his last six contests. That includes two 30-point games. He led Minnesota in scoring this year, and if it is going to win any games in the tourney, that will likely have to be the case again.
Phil Booth, Villanova
The Wildcats lost a lot of talent from their title-winning team, but Booth has helped step into the void to keep Villanova a good, not great, team. A lot of scorers will occasionally be held to single-digit points, but that only happened to Booth twice all season and not once in 2019. The senior also has two 28-point games in his last five outings.
Markus Howard, Marquette
Marquette is playing Murray State in the first round, so expect a real scoring showdown between Morant and Howard. Despite Morant’s incredible season against easy competition, Howard actually averaged more points per game, as he put up a nice, round number of 25.0. This is a guy who scored 53 points in a single game, which is stunning in college. Sure, that was the beginning of January, but he has two 30-point explosions in his last five games.
Myles Powell, Seton Hall
Of all the guys on this list, Powell may be the truly hottest scorer heading into the tourney. He hasn’t had a single off night in March. In his last seven games, his lowest-scoring outing is 20 points, which is a plenty respectable number. Can the junior keep it up during March Madness?
Marial Shayok, Iowa State
The Cyclones surprised some by winning the Big 12 Tournament, thanks in part to the play of Shayok. He’s scored at least 15 points in his last six games, and he’s gone over 20 points three times. This is the senior’s first year with the team after transferring from Virginia, and the move seems to have served him well, as his points-per-game average jumped almost 10 points from his junior campaign. Let’s see if he can keep that going.
Jarron Cumberland, Cincinnati
Cumberland enters the tournament with perhaps the splashiest final game of anybody. In the AAC title matchup with Houston, the junior dropped 33 points to help lead the Bearcats to victory. That gave him at least 20 points in three of his last four games and four of his last six.