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Big East Tournament 2012: Which Players Will Have the Biggest Impact?

DETROIT - APRIL 04:  A general view of the American flag on the court during the national anthem before the Michigan State Spartans take on the Connecticut Huskies during the National Semifinal game of the NCAA Division I Men's Basketball Championship at Ford Field on April 4, 2009 in Detroit, Michigan.  (Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)
Streeter Lecka/Getty Images
Donald WoodFeatured ColumnistMarch 5, 2012

With the 2012 Big East Tournament kicking off soon, the excitement over which players will steal the show is as high as it could possibly be.

In one of the deepest conferences in all of college sports, the Big East brings several teams to the table that could not only win the Big East tournament, but win the NCAA tourney as well.

All of the following players will play huge rolls in this tournament, but only one will lead their team to Big East glory.

 

Kris Joseph, Syracuse

PHILADELPHIA, PA - JANUARY 11:  Kris Joseph #32 of the Syracuse Orange reacts against the Villanova Wildcats at the Wells Fargo Center on January 11, 2012 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.  (Photo by Chris Chambers/Getty Images)
Chris Chambers/Getty Images

At over 31 minutes a game, no Syracuse Orange player sees the court more often than Kris Joseph. And with the stat line he stuffs, it’s no wonder.

Joseph leads the team with 14.1 points per game, while averaging five rebounds and almost two assists per game. Add in his steals and blocks and you have one of the better defenders in the nation.

The Orange only lost one game this year because of stellar team play. While it may be Joseph that gets credit as the MVP of this tournament, there will be a locker room full of players that played a key part in the win.

 

Jae Crowder, Marquette

MILWAUKEE, WI - MARCH 03:  Jae Crowder #32 of the Marquette Golden Eagles grabs a loose ball away from Greg Whittington #2 of the Georgetown Hoyas at the Bradley Center on March 3, 2012 in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Marquette defeated Georgetown 83-69.  (Photo
Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

The Marquette Golden Eagles need the development of a star like Jae Crowder to be a serious contender this season, and they got it in spades.

The senior has averaged over 32 minutes per game while putting up 17.6 points, 7.9 rebounds, 2.1 assists, 2.4 steals and a block per game. If that’s not the definition of versatile, I don’t know what is.

Pairing Crowder with fellow senior Darius Johnson-Odom will make Marquette a serious threat in the Big East tourney and the NCAA madness afterwards.

 

Jack Cooley, Notre Dame

LOUISVILLE, KY - DECEMBER 08:  Jack Cooley #45 of the Notre Dame Fighting Irish reaches for a loose ballduring the game against the Kentucky Wildcats in the 2010 DIRECTV SEC/BIG EAST Invitational at Freedom Hall on December 8, 2010 in Louisville, Kentucky
Andy Lyons/Getty Images

The key fact to comprehend Notre Dame Fighting Irish junior forward Jack Cooley’s importance to the team is the fact that he leads the team in points (12.5) and rebounds (9.2) per game. If that’s not the key to your team, nothing is.

Cooley has the size and speed to be a serious threat in this tournament, but he will have to prove that he can average big minutes and stay effective when needed.

If the Fighting Irish can continue to play their suffocating defense while giving Cooley the offensive looks needed to get them a series of wins, Notre Dame will be incredibly tough to beat.

 

Check back for more on the NCAA Basketball as it comes, and check out Bleacher Report’s College Basketball Page to get your fill of college basketball.

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