Elite 8 2012: Players Who Must Up Their Game to Advance to New Orleans

Matt JohnsonCorrespondent IMarch 24, 2012

BOSTON, MA - MARCH 22:  Dion Waiters #3 of the Syracuse Orange reacts after a play as Jordan Taylor #11 of the Wisconsin Badgers looks on during their 2012 NCAA Men's Basketball East Regional Semifinal game at TD Garden on March 22, 2012 in Boston, Massachusetts.  (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)
Elsa/Getty Images

With the Elite Eight kicking off this weekend, all teams still in contention have played solid basketball so far. However, in order to make a real run at a championship, this is the time when star players must raise their game to the next level.

Here are three players that must pick up their game in order to secure their team a spot in the Final Four.

Anthony Davis underperformed against the Hoosiers, only scoring nine points and not contributing in the fashion he has become accustomed to. The freshman has been incredible all season, and the Wildcats will need him to be on his game over the next week in order to capture the 2012 NCAA title.

Baylor will provide a test, but Kentucky should win this game handily in the end. Davis will need to play a bigger role in this game than he did versus Indiana, or the Wildcats may find themselves locked in a close match heading in to the final stretch.

Harrison Barnes did not look like his usual self against Ohio, but they will need him to have a standout game against Kansas if they hope to move on to the Final Four. The projected first-round draft pick will be key in a Tar Heels championship push, and if he were to have a disappointing effort against the Jayhawks, North Carolina will once again be left wondering what could have been.

The loss of Kendall Marshall will prove tough to overcome, and since he is unlikely to suit up this Sunday, Barnes will need to lead the group over a tough Kansas side.

Dion Waiters will be crucial to getting past the Ohio State Buckeyes this afternoon. His inside presence takes on even more significance in the absence of Fab Melo. He is the key to Syracuse’s ability to get out on the fast break and create turnovers.

With the quality of Ohio State’s defense, creating penetration and scoring transition points will be very important. Look for Waiters to play a big role in an Orange victory.