2012 NCAA Tournament: Top 10 High-Impact Seniors in This Year's March Madness

Doug Brodess@DougbrodessCorrespondent IMarch 6, 2012

2012 NCAA Tournament: Top 10 High-Impact Seniors in This Year's March Madness

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    When the NCAA tournament starts next week, coaches will be looking for production from any source possible.

    Every team that makes up the 2012 field will look to string together six consecutive wins on their way to cutting down the nets in New Orleans on April 2.

    Senior leadership can play a huge role in a team's postseason success.

    Here are the top 10 high-impact seniors in this year's March Madness:

10. Darius Miller (Kentucky)

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    Darius Miller is the only player on this list that doesn't start for his respective team.

    But that doesn't stop him from having a huge influence on what's happening for the Wildcats.

    Miller's basic numbers are solid (10 ppg, 2.6 rpg, 2.1 apg) but he is also a relentless defender who adds length and toughness to the perimeter.

    The 6'8" 225-lb wing has found his three-point stroke as of late, hitting 9-of-21 shots from beyond the arc in the last four games of the season.

    John Calipari may continue to use him coming off of the UK bench, but look for Miller to make big things happen in both the SEC and NCAA tournaments.

9. Quincy Acy (Baylor)

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    Does it seem (to anyone else) like Quincy Acy has played for Baylor for about seven years?

    Acy continues to be an important component to the Bears' success.

    His numbers are solid (12.1 ppg, 7.2 rpg, 2.0 bpg), but his leadership is huge.

    Scott Drew's crew is a combination of new faces and young bucks, so Acy's role is vital to making all of the moving parts get in sync.

8. Erving Walker (Florida)

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    Erving Walker is the man who makes the Gators go.

    When he is on the top of his game, Florida is a tough team to handle.

    Even though Billy Donovan added Bradley Beal and Mike Rosario on the perimeter, Walker's numbers (12.4 ppg, 2.9 rpg, 4.7 apg) are almost identical to his production last year. 

    Walker's assist-to-turnover ratio (2.3) is excellent, and his effectiveness in distributing the ball to Beal, Kenny Boynton and Patric Young is key to UF's SEC and NCAA tournament success.

7. William Buford (Ohio State)

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    William Buford is one of the most underrated players in college basketball, but playing in the shadow of Jared Sullinger has not helped him gain the exposure that he deserves.

    Believe it or not, Buford has averaged double-digit scoring all four years in Columbus.

    He proved again this past weekend that he is more than capable of blowing up in "big games" and hitting shots in crunch time. 

    Buford scored 25 against Michigan State, but the biggest shot was the game-winner with one second left.

6. Tyshawn Taylor (Kansas)

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    Tyshawn Taylor has played a ton of minutes over the last four years.

    Most of the time, he has been the fourth or fifth option in the Jayhawks attack.

    This year, Taylor moved into the primary perimeter scoring role, and the 6'3" guard from Hoboken has been lights-out.

    He is averaging 17.2 points per game (shooting 48.9 percent from the field and 43.1 percent from beyond the arc) and 4.9 assists.

    Over the last three games of the regular season, Taylor is putting up 24 points per game. 

    If he can continue to knock them down like this, watch for KU to be playing for it all in New Orleans.

5. Marcus Denmon (Missouri)

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    Missouri just might have the most dynamic perimeter attack in Division I hoops.

    And Marcus Denmon is the shooter among a team of marksmen. 

    The 6'3" two-guard is the Tigers' leading scorer (18 ppg) while shooting 46.8 percent from the field and 42 percent from beyond the arc.

    If he can duplicate his February 25 performance (25 points, 6-of-10 from three) against Kansas throughout the Big 12 and NCAA tournaments, Frank Haith''s squad may go be a dark horse to win it all.

4. Darius Johnson-Odom (Marquette)

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    DJO is a dynamic backcourt player who could help Marquette get to New Orleans in a few weeks.

    Johnson-Odom and Jae Crowder (both voted to the All-Big East First Team) give the Golden Eagles an outstanding outside-inside senior combo.

    DJO is the No. 2 scorer (18.3 ppg) in the Big East, and when he's doing well, so is the team.

    Marquette won every game in which he has scored 20 points or more.

3. Kris Joseph (Syracuse)

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    Kris Joseph's numbers aren't sexy (14.1 ppg, 5.0 rpg, 1.7 apg, 1.4 spg), but he is a huge reason why Syracuse (30-1, 17-1 Big East) is having a nearly flawless season in 2011-12.

    Joseph leads by example. When he's on, everybody else seems to play at a different level.

    The 6'7" forward uses his length and athleticism to pester the Orange's opponents on defense.

    Jim Boeheim's bunch has a ton of talent, but no one will play a bigger role in the Big East and NCAA tournaments than Joseph.

2. Tyler Zeller (North Carolina)

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    Tyler Zeller is one of the most steady players in college basketball.

    Steadiness may not get you on SportsCenter's "Top 10" very often, but it sure helps when your team counts on you for dependable frontcourt play.

    Zeller is the Tar Heels' No. 2 scorer (16.3 ppg) and rebounder (9.3 rpg), but he is getting hot at just the right time.

    Over the last three games, the 7'0" center is scorching, averaging 23 points per game, shooting 21-of-34 (61.7 percent) from the field and 27-of-30 (90 percent) from the free-throw line.

1. Draymond Green (Michigan State)

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    No senior will play a bigger role in his team's postseason success than Draymond Green. 

    He is the heart and soul of the Michigan State Spartans, leading them in scoring (16.2 PPG), rebounding (10.3 RPG) and steals (1.5 SPG).

    Green was named the 2011-12 Big Ten Player of the Year earlier this week.

    If possible, Tom Izzo's team will count on Green even more as the Big Ten tournament gets ready to open.