March Madness 2012: John Henson and 3 Players Who Will Decide Rest of Tourney

Joseph ZuckerFeatured ColumnistMarch 17, 2012

GREENSBORO, NC - MARCH 16:  John Henson #31 of the North Carolina Tar Heels looks on from the bench against the Vermont Catamounts during the second round of the 2012 NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament at Greensboro Coliseum on March 16, 2012 in Greensboro, North Carolina.  (Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)
Streeter Lecka/Getty Images

Much of the hopes for the North Carolina Tar Heels in this NCAA Tournament rest on the wrist of John Henson.

He injured the wrist during the ACC Tournament quarterfinal game against Maryland last Friday. Henson hasn't played since.

The Tar Heels easily dispatched Vermont in the first round, 77-58, but it wasn't the kind of performance that the team is capable of.

If North Carolina is to make a deep run this year, they'll need Henson. Coach Roy Williams said the chances of him playing in the second round are "a little better than 50-50."

Even should he return, his wrist will probably not be at 100 percent, so you have to wonder how it will affect his game and the team as a whole.

With John Henson at his best, the Tar Heels are definite title contenders, but without him, that road becomes much rougher.

Here's three other players who are equally as important to their teams:


Isaiah Canaan, Murray State

Murray State carried a record of 30-1 into the tournament. Much of the offensive impetus was on Isaiah Canaan.

He led the Racers in scoring at 19.2 points a game.

Canaan was a very good three-point shooter all season, hitting 46.4 percent of his shots from outside.

Fans of the team probably feel disrespected by seeing the team only as a No. 6 seed, and they'll want to see the school win a few games to earn that respect back.

When mid-majors make deep runs in the tournament, it's often on the back of a scorer. If Murray State is to do that, Canaan will have to be that player.


John Jenkins, Vanderbilt

The Vanderbilt Commodores picked up a nice win by taking out 12-seeded Harvard. Much of it was due to junior guard John Jenkins. He scored 27 points and picked up six rebounds.

Jenkins was the Commodores' leading scorer this season, averaging a little over 20 points a game. Much like Canaan for Murray State, if Vanderbilt is going to continue to go deeper in this tournament, they'll need Jenkins to play as he has all season.

If Vanderbilt can get past Wisconsin, they would face either Syracuse or Kansas State.

The Wildcats are beatable, and the Orange showed in their first-round win over UNC Asheville that without Fab Melo, they aren't the same team.

Jenkins is the kind of player that can be remembered for having a great tournament and leading his team to a shock run.


Draymond Green, Michigan State

Green has been a rock all season for the Spartans, winning Big Ten Player of the Year. He led the team in scoring (16.4), rebounding (10.4) and was second in assists (3.6).

The senior forward was absolutely dominant in the first round as he picked up a triple-double in the Spartans' win against LIU Brooklyn.

If Green struggles then the entire team struggles. He is the kind of senior leader that brings calm and experience to the entire team. Rarely do schools as good as Michigan State have the luxury of having someone like Draymond Green, who's been there for four years and is as good as he is.

The Spartans aren't going to get overwhelmed by the stage because the players all know they can lean on him.