Anthony Davis and Michael Kidd-Gilchrist. JJ Redick and Shelden Williams. Tyler Hansbrough and Ty Lawson. Jalen Brunson and Mikal Bridges. An impressive 1-2 punch is usually a recipe for success in college basketball. While we don’t know exactly how the NCAA Tournament will play out this year, that still seems to be the case. Just take a look at the teams ranked at the top of the nation. One thing they seem to have in common is a reliable duo leading the way. But which of these dominant duos are the best in the tournament? Who will have the most significant impact? Who can lead their team to the promised land?
Below you’ll find our ranking of the best.
5. Phil Booth & Eric Paschall
At first glance, this might not be a duo you’d consider for this list. Neither man is projected to be a high NBA Draft pick and Villanova is only a No. 6 seed in the tournament. However, you can’t count them out. Both Phil Booth (18.6ppg) and Eric Pashcall (16.5ppg) are seniors. Booth was there for both championships won by the Wildcats in the past three years, while Paschall was a key contributor last year. Each man has stepped up big time this year. Booth was the Big East Tournament MVP and both made the All-Big East First Team. That combination of skill and experience could prove to be incredibly valuable.
4. Brandon Clarke & Rui Hachimura
Gonzaga has one of the best forward combinations you’ll find anywhere. Rui Hachimura (20.1ppg) and Brandon Clarke (16.5ppg) have led the Bulldogs to a 30-3 record and a spot as a No. 1 seed in the NCAA Tournament. There are plenty of talented duos in college basketball, but one trait allows these two to stand out. Their efficiency. Both guys shoot over 60% from the field. That kind of percentage is usually reserved for big men who take shots within eight or so feet. The fact that these two can be so accurate and versatile will be a problem for the rest of the field.
3. Cameron Johnson & Coby White
Everyone was expecting North Carolina to be led by the freshman duo of Coby White (16.3ppg) and Nassir Little (9.4ppg). However, Little hasn’t taken off the way many thought he would. Instead, senior guard Cameron Johnson (16.9ppg) has blossomed and is having the best season of his young career. This is the only guard combo on the list, so they give off a different vibe from any other pair. They’ll lead the way for a UNC team that is loaded in other areas.
2. Admiral Schofield & Grant Williams
Most years, these guys would be the first choice. Admiral Schofield (16.2ppg) is a highly touted NBA prospect and Grant Williams (19.0ppg) is the two-time defending SEC Player of the Year. They combined to lead Tennessee to a No. 1 ranking for a good chunk of the season and they enter the tournament as a No. 2. Virginia, the No. 1 in their region, is kind of a question mark and that leaves the door open for Tennessee. With talent like this, they’re a good bet to make the Final Four. And with only one duo more potent in the nation, they might have what it takes to win it all.
1. RJ Barrett & Zion Williamson
Could it be anyone else? The Duke Blue Devils are loaded with talent this year, but these forwards are unbelievably good. RJ Barrett (22.9ppg) is the left guard who led Duke in scoring, while Zion Williamson (22.1ppg) is the all-world player projected to get taken first in the upcoming NBA Draft. Williamson is a powerhouse who shot nearly 70% from the field and dominated on both ends of the floor. Barrett does a little bit of everything and does it all well. Both made the All-ACC First Team, with Williamson also being named the College Player of the Year. There is no scarier duo. They’re the main reason why Duke is the favorite to cut down the nets.