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Top 25 players in the 2019 Final Four

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Winston: 'I like our chances against any team' (1:34)

Michigan State's Cassius Winston describes the emotion late in the game vs. Duke and what making the Final Four means. (1:34)

When the Final Four tips off this weekend in Minneapolis, it will feature 25 players, more or less, who have demonstrated their worth in the most demanding of all hoops contexts: win-or-go-home basketball. The NBA uses that particular mechanism only in Game 7s, but in the NCAA tournament, you're always on the brink of going home.

To honor the players who have excelled in that extreme environment, this list is forthrightly tilted toward tournament performance while still being mindful of what these standouts have been doing all season long. (Meaning, as always: No, this is not a mock draft.)

Here are the top 25 players we'll be watching at the 2019 Final Four:


1. Cassius Winston, Michigan State Spartans

Winston arrives in Minneapolis having recorded 10 assists against just one turnover in a full 40 minutes against Duke. Indeed, the 6-foot-1 junior will have bragging rights at U.S. Bank Stadium over all comers as far as tournament assists are concerned -- both as a straight counting stat (31) and on a per-individual-possession basis (12.6 percent). He's capable of seizing the opportunity in transition, but a bit like floor generals of old, Winston is also perfectly content to carve you up at his leisure in the half court. Note, as well, that Tom Izzo's point guard is shooting 40 percent on his medium-volume 3s in tournament play, and his 26-point performance got his team over its weird 35-minute nap against Bradley in the round of 64.