NCAA Tournament 2012: Stars We Can't Wait to See Shine in the Big Dance

Bob BajekAnalyst IIIMarch 14, 2012

DURHAM, NC - MARCH 03:  Austin Rivers #0 of the Duke Blue Devils reacts to a call as he walks to the bench against the North Carolina Tar Heels during their game at Cameron Indoor Stadium on March 3, 2012 in Durham, North Carolina.  (Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)
Streeter Lecka/Getty Images

Star power is what drives the NCAA Tournament and TV ratings, and this tourney will not lack the stars who make the event the biggest sports extravaganza of the year.

With March Madness ready to begin, here are five amazing stars that you must watch no matter what.

Kentucky Forward/Center Anthony Davis

Only a freshman, Kentucky's Anthony Davis has wasted no time in becoming the best player in college basketball.

The 6'10", 220-pound Davis is an outer-worldly defensive talent who is a great interior defender and a blocking machine. The Chicago native cranked out 157 blocks this year, which shattered NBA legend Shaquille O'Neal's South Eastern Conference 115-block record.

Davis not only blocked 4.6 shots a game, but he also averaged 14.3 points on 64.2 percent shooting and 10 rebounds per game. 

Currently, Davis is the projected first pick in the 2012 NBA Draft.

Duke Guard Austin Rivers

ATLANTA, GA - MARCH 11:  Harrison Barnes #40 of the North Carolina Tar Heels walks off of the court after they lost 85-82 against the Florida State Seminoles during the Final Game of the 2012 ACC Men's Basketball Conference Tournament at Philips Arena on
Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

One of the big reasons Duke has a high No. 2 seed in the NCAA Tournament is freshman guard Austin Rivers. 

A 6'4", 200-pound native of Winter Park, Florida, Rivers has produced immediately in the Blue Devils' starting lineup. He has averaged 15.4 points, 3.4 rebounds and 2.1 assists a game.

Rivers was the Naismith Prep Player of the Year in 2010-11 and is the son of former NBA player and Boston Celtics coach Doc Rivers.

North Carolina Forward Harrison Barnes

Harrison Barnes has been to the NCAA Tournament before, and he wants to lead his team further than last year's Elite Eight loss to Kentucky.

During last year's tourney, Barnes played all four games and posted 21 points, 8.3 rebounds, two assists and 1.8 steals. However, he shot 31-of-75 from the field, or 41.3 percent.

Barnes has even improved his game more during his sophomore year, averaging 17.4 points and 5.2 rebounds. He has also honed his three-point shooting, nailing 37.4 percent of his shots from beyond the arch.

Barnes and the Tar Heels will be motivated to win it all this year, so expected inspired performances.

HARTFORD, CT - JANUARY 9:  Jeremy Lamb #3 of the Connecticut Huskies scores against the West Virginia Mountaineers in the second half at the XL Center on January 9, 2012 in Hartford, Connecticut.  (Photo by Jim Rogash/Getty Images)
Jim Rogash/Getty Images

Connecticut Guard Jeremy Lamb

Sophomore guard Jeremy Lamb is an outstanding player for the Huskies.

Standing at 6'5" and weighting 185 pounds, Lamb has improved all aspects of his game since winning last year's national championship.

With Kemba Walker departing for the Charlotte Bobcats, Lamb has taken over the leadership role for Connecticut. He has averaged 17.7 points, 4.9 rebounds, 1.8 assists and 1.2 steals per game.

In the 2011 tournament, Lamb had a strong showing averaging 16.2 points and 4.8 rebounds while shooting 58 percent from the floor (36-of-62). The Huskies will rely on Lamb's stellar shooting and tournament experience as they try for a repeat.

Kansas Forward Thomas Robinson

Thomas Robinson is ancient in college basketball terms, but the junior will be the key in the Kansas Jayhawks' title run.

The 6'9", 237-pound Robinson is considered the second best power forward projected in the upcoming NBA Draft, behind Anthony Davis. Robinson has made a huge leap this year in scoring (7.6 to 17.9 points), rebounding (6.4 to 11.8) and free-throw percentage (51 to 68.3) from his sophomore year.

Robinson didn't do so well in the 2011 tournament (4.5 points, 6.0 rebounds), and managed just seven minutes in the 2010 Big Dance. Robinson will break out this time around.