Posted: Thursday November 10, 2011 11:47AM ; Updated: Thursday November 10, 2011 6:09PM
Andy Glockner

Best of the Rest: Xavier, New Mexico among top non-BCS teams

Story Highlights

Led by Tu Holloway, Xavier could make a legit run to break into the Final Four

Look for Anthony Marshall and Mike Moser to be UNLV's breakout stars this season

Belmont's Kerron Johnson, North Texas' Tony Mitchell among sleepers to watch

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Look for Tu Holloway to be in contention for National Player of the Year honors.
Look for Tu Holloway to be in contention for National Player of the Year honors.
Jim Owens/Icon SMI

With the impact non-BCS teams have made on the last few NCAA tournaments -- four Final Four teams in the past six years -- there's no denying the level of talent that has landed on teams outside the football majors. This season is no different and you could very easily see a team (or two) from this list pop up in New Orleans. Here's a quick primer to make you a truly national fan of the college game:

Ten Impact Players

Tu Holloway, Xavier

The no-brainer pick of this list, Holloway should make a run at National Player of the Year honors. He's tough, gritty, ballsy, good and fun to watch. We just saw UConn ride a score-first lead guard to glory (as his cast grew up around him). Why not a similar story in Cincinnati, where the Musketeers are loaded?

Ramone Moore, Temple

Because everyone focuses on Holloway in the A-10, Moore doesn't get enough credit for his role in carrying the Owls. When a team doesn't turn the ball over, doesn't foul much and doesn't allow opponents to score two-point baskets, a lot of the credit should go to the high-usage guards.

Andrew Nicholson, St. Bonaventure

An actual NBA prospect in Olean? What in the name of Bob Lanier is going on here? The Canadian forward has quietly impressed over the last couple of seasons and the Bonnies have enough talent around this year that a strong finish in a wide-open A-10 is possible.

Doug McDermott, Creighton

What more can you say about the past 12 months for the coach's kid? Had a great rookie campaign, did well over the summer in the U-19s and now is expected to be the Player of the Year in the Valley. Should lead the Bluejays to their first NCAA win since 2003.

Drew Gordon, New Mexico

He got his feet wet in a solid way last season after becoming eligible in January after leaving UCLA. Now he's the primary inside scoring threat for a Lobos team that should win the Mountain West and could position itself for a high NCAA seed with a very manageable nonconference slate.

Brandon Davies, BYU

Remember him? He was that guy on the Cougars' bench during the NCAAs when everyone wanted to see what they could have done with him in the paint. Now without Jimmer and Jackson around, he'll carry a much larger burden of the shot load in a less athletic conference. Davies should do damage.

Kyle Weems, Missouri State

Weems took almost 30 percent of the Bears' shots during his 32 minutes a game and will have to carry a similarly heavy load for the Bears after significant personnel losses. Good thing he can score both inside (53 percent on twos) and outside (40 percent from the arc).

Arsalan Kazemi, Rice

A high-efficiency, double-double machine who has carried the Owls the last couple of seasons. He's also a statistically dominant rebounder at both ends of the floor, especially the defensive end, where his 30.8 percent rebounding rate was second in all of Division I last season.

Orlando Johnson, UCSB

An extraordinarily high-usage wing (34.7 percent of UCSB's shots while he's on the floor) who also is very efficient. He gets to the line a lot, shoots 40 percent from three and shares the ball decently, as well. A one-man wrecking crew (with sidekick James Nunnally) who could derail Long Beach State in the Big West.

Will Barton, Memphis

Someone on the Tigers will take the lessons learned from last year and make a big sophomore leap, and the smart money's on Barton, who wasn't far away from leading Memphis in scoring, rebounding, assists and steals last season. If he can refine his shot selection a bit, even better. Barton jacked up 390 shots last season, which was 135 more than any other Tiger.

Ten Breakout Stars

With the departures of Cam Long and Luke Hancock, George Mason's Ryan Pearson could have a break out season.
With the departures of Cam Long and Luke Hancock, George Mason's Ryan Pearson could have a break out season.
Charles Barner/Southcreek Global/

Ryan Pearson, George Mason

The Patriots' second-leading scorer last season now has a chance to put up very big numbers as a senior after leading scorer Cam Long exhausted his eligibility and Luke Hancock transferred to Louisville.

Anthony Marshall (and Mike Moser), UNLV

The Rebels are now Marshall's team with the departure of Tre'Von Willis, and that's a good thing. He'll have a new option in the frontcourt in UCLA transfer Moser, who would have been the team's best big man last season and should create havoc in Dave Rice's system.

Tarik Black, Memphis

He can go get it on the offensive glass and he can swat it at the other end, both very important traits for a Memphis team long on athleticism but short on offensive efficiency and length. If he bumps a bit from his 22 minutes a game last season, averaging close to a double-double may be in the cards.

Matthew Dellavedova, St. Mary's

With Mickey McConnell moving on, the Gaels' primary perimeter potency will come from this Aussie junior, who's also solid from inside the arc and deadly from the foul line. Expect a solid scoring bump.

Kwamain Mitchell, Saint Louis

A forgotten man nationally after an off-court incident cost him last season, he returns to lead a still-young but seasoned Billikens team that could finish third in the A-10 and squeeze into the NCAAs. As a sophomore, Mitchell took over 30 percent of SLU's shots while he was on the floor and had a true shooting percentage of over 55 percent.

DeAndre Kane, Marshall

The CUSA freshman of the year has a chance to explode on the national scene this season if he can cut down on the turnovers and convert a few more jumpers. He was second on the Herd in scoring, rebounding and assists and first in steals last season.

Khyle Marshall, Butler

Marshall steps into the void left by stalwart forward Matt Howard. Working with lanky Andrew Smith inside, Marshall could emerge as the Bulldogs' best player. He was very effective last season in small stints, especially getting to the offensive glass.

Michael Glover, Iona

Maybe you know the name, but Glover could be one of those mid-major guys who gets a big March showcase should the Gaels live up to billing. The best player in the MAAC made over 61 percent from the field last season and is a handful on the glass on both ends.

Ray McCallum, Detroit

The coach's son had a pretty solid freshman campaign and now big things are possible for the Titans as Butler's come back to the pack in the Horizon. He scored unusually well inside the arc for a young, small guard, so if he cleans up his free throw shooting and makes a few more 3s, the numbers will pop.

Casper Ware, Long Beach State

The ball hawking leader of the 49ers, he'll get some national showcases early with LSBU's insane nonconference schedule. Then he'll likely lead them to the Big West crown. Shoots it well from everywhere but also gets everyone else involved and takes the rock from foes at a huge rate.
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