A handful of players have stood out during the 2012 NCAA tournament, but who have been the most valuable players in this year's bracket?
The Ohio State Buckeyes, Louisville Cardinals, Kentucky Wildcats and Kansas Jayhawks peaked at the right time, thanks to the clutch play of their stars. But those headliners weren't the only ballers to make an impact on the tournament.
Which athletes made the most of the Big Dance? Let's take a look at the top 25 players of March Madness 2012.
Cody Zeller, Indiana
Sean Kilpatrick, Cincinnati
Harrison Barnes, North Carolina
Casper Ware, Long Beach State
Kwamain Mitchell, Saint Louis
Andre Roberson, Colorado
Tyler Zeller, UNC
Otto Porter, Georgetown
Gary Bell Jr., Gonzaga
Tyshawn Taylor, Kansas
Brady Heslip, Baylor
Peyton Siva, Louisville
Aaron Craft, Ohio State
South Florida entered the NCAA tournament as a 12th seed in a play-in game, but it quickly earned its stripes by marching all over California and Temple.
Leading the march was Victor Rudd Jr., who was averaging a little more than eight points per game prior to the tournament. He willed his way to 15 points over the Golden Bears, then he caught fire from long distance to drop 17 on Temple.
Even in South Florida's season-ending loss to Ohio, Rudd put up a double-double.
One of the Big Ten's top performers brought his best stuff to the Big Dance.
Purdue forward Robbie Hummel played solid all-around basketball in addition to lighting Kansas up for 22 points in the first half of the third-round matchup.
Hummel's 9-of-13 shooting gave Purdue a legitimate chance to knock off the heavily favored Jayhawks, who were blindsided by the Boilermakers' torrid first half.
Virginia Commonwealth didn't make the kind of magical run we saw last spring, but it still ruined a few brackets with its second-round upset of Wichita State. Bradford Burgess was a consistent performer in that win and VCU's tough loss to Indiana.
In the Rams' win over the Shockers, his versatility was on full display. He knocked down outside shots, scored inside, set up his teammates, had active hands on defense and attacked the glass.
Shaka Smart will have a tough time filling the void left by Burgess.
In Creighton's two tournament games, Doug McDermott faced power-conference opponents determined to slow him down, but he still shined.
First, he faced a stingy Alabama defense that threw the kitchen sink at him. He still recorded a double-double with 16 points and 10 rebounds in the Bluejays' win.
Then, he encountered the loaded frontcourt of North Carolina.
No problem. McDermott dropped 20 points and grabbed nine rebounds. His Big Dance success validated all the mid-major praise he was getting throughout the year.
If Kendall Marshall was being graded based on the entire tournament, he would receive an "incomplete."
But we're not handing out school grades, and we can't fault him for being injured. He should get recognition for his exceptional play for the Tar Heels in the first couple of rounds.
In both games, Marshall recorded a double-double in assists and scoring, as Roy Williams' club steamrolled Vermont and Creighton.
If not for his wrist injury, North Carolina would be in the Final Four. He's undoubtedly its most valuable player.
Those who followed the Patriot League this season knew C.J. McCollum was a threat, but the rest of America didn't know what to expect from Lehigh's 6'3" guard.
Duke certainly didn't have an answer for him. McCollum torched the Blue Devils for 30 points to send Mike Krzyzewski and Company packing.
He followed that up with 14 points and eight rebounds against Xavier.
McCollum's efforts weren't enough to propel Lehigh to a deep run, but he provided one of the signature upsets in NCAA tournament history.
Kansas Jayhawks center Jeff Withey makes this list for one reason: defense.
Withey makes it nearly impossible for opposing teams to score in the paint, and the NCAA tournament has been his own personal block party.
He has 20 blocks so far in the Dance, including 10 in the Sweet 16 against N.C. State.
Jared Sullinger and Ohio State await.
To get an idea of Royce White's impact for the Iowa State Cyclones in the Big Dance, here's his stat-line averages: 71 percent shooting, 19 points, 11 rebounds, three assists and two steals.
Without him, they wouldn't have toppled Connecticut in the second round and wouldn't have come within 30 points of Kentucky. He is one of the most indispensable players in America.
Long Beach State and Louisville couldn't keep New Mexico Lobos forward Drew Gordon off the glass. His strength and athleticism made him an unstoppable force in the paint for Steve Alford's crew.
Gordon's effectiveness on the boards helped the Lobos hold off the 49ers in the second round and give Louisville a run for its money.
The relentless rebounding helped him get high-percentage second-chance looks for New Mexico, and NBA general managers are hoping for the same kind of results when he turns pro.
The Baylor Bears saw contributions from several key players throughout the postseason, but no one was more consistent than Pierre Jackson.
Waco's lightning-quick guard ran circles around his challengers, and his tournament exploits included a pair of double-digit-assist games.
He also inflicted pain on the defensive end, racking up 11 steals in Baylor's four games.
Perry Jones III is Baylor's best talent and Brady Heslip played the best single game, but Jackson was the Bears' NCAA tournament MVP.
Despite being Wisconsin's top option offensively and the primary target of opposing defenses, Jordan Taylor excelled in the 2012 tourney.
What's almost as impressive as his prolific outside shooting is the fact that he handles the ball so much without turning it over. He played 115 minutes in the tournament and turned the ball over just three times.
Sure, part of it is Wisonsin's slow, deliberate style of play, but Taylor's care for the ball plays a big part in his team getting quality possessions every time down the floor.
In their Big Dance upsets over San Diego State and Georgetown, the N.C. State Wolfpack relied on the playmaking of Lorenzo Brown.
The sophomore guard scored and dropped dimes throughout the tournament, creating opportunities for the whole team. His ability to get in the lane and disrupt defenses put the Aztecs and Hoyas on their heels.
How valuable is Brown to Mark Gottfried's club? He played no fewer than 38 minutes in each of the Wolfpack's three tourney tilts.
Jae Crowder's skills, versatility and heady play made Marquette one of the premier teams in the Big East this season.
He continued that production into the NCAA tournament, averaging 19 points and 12 rebounds per game. Crowder's presence on the glass and in the Golden Eagles offense helped them conquer a tough Murray State squad.
Buzz Williams was lucky to have a forward he could count on to make an impact in all facets of the game.
The aftermath of "The Brawl" seemed to ruin Tu Holloway's reputation and the Xavier Musketeers' season, but Holloway and Company made sure to end the season on a good note.
The shifty guard notched more than 20 points in all three of Xavier's tournament contests, helping the Musketeers salvage some semblance of dignity after free-falling in the middle of the season.
D.J. Cooper made the Ohio Bobcats the headline story coming out of Nashville.
Cooper's first two games of the tournament were brilliant; the 5'11" junior took Michigan and South Florida to school. When he wasn't hitting shots from all over the floor, he was finding teammates and getting everyone involved.
His fun ended when the Bobcats collided with North Carolina, but Cooper was impressive in Ohio's drive to the Sweet 16.
In each of Syracuse's four tournament games, Scoop Jardine shot the ball extremely well and dished out a handful of assists, while providing energy and leadership.
When Fab Melo went down, it was Jardine who put the Orange post players in a prime position to succeed. His ability to create plays with his ball-handling skills opened up chances for his teammates to finish.
His career had many ups and downs, but he ended it with a superb run in the Big Dance.
Deshaun Thomas' tournament got off to a blistering start against Loyola.
Ohio State's left-handed forward lit up the Greyhounds for 31 points and 12 rebounds, and his next three games weren't too shabby, either. Thomas followed with an 18-point effort against Gonzaga, a 24-point outburst against Cincinnati and a 14-point, nine-rebound game against Syracuse.
Jared Sullinger is clearly the Buckeyes' first option, but it doesn't hurt to have guys like Thomas and William Buford there to pick up the slack.
Christian Watford became increasingly productive as Indiana's tournament rolled on.
After a solid outing against New Mexico State, Watford raised his game from long range against VCU. Then, in the Sweet 16, the floodgates opened with a 27-point outburst against the Kentucky Wildcats.
He's not Indiana's best player by any stretch of the imagination, but he put together a nice string of games to give the Hoosiers a fighting chance to advance to the Elite Eight.
Florida freshman Bradley Beal was solid in the first couple rounds, but his most impressive showing came against Marquette in the Sweet 16.
Beal carved up the Golden Eagles by shooting 80 percent from the field with six rebounds, four assists, two blocks and two steals.
He has upperclassmen-type poise and a willingness to do what it takes to put his team in a good position.
With Beal at his best, it was clear that the Gators were much better than a seventh seed.
Although Michigan State's season didn't end the way Draymond Green had hoped, he left everything out on the table for the Spartans.
You know he had a good tournament when his worst rebounding total was 12. His triple-double against LIU-Brooklyn was a masterpiece, and he finished the tournament with 41 rebounds in three games.
Green will go down as one of the best players in the Tom Izzo era because of his multidimensional game and exemplary leadership.
Michael Kidd-Gilchrist got out of the gate slowly in the Big Dance, but in the Sweet 16 and Elite Eight, he was a man among boys.
Kentucky cruised past Indiana and Baylor, thanks to the assertiveness and poise of Kidd-Gilchrist. The young Wildcat drove to the basket at will, rebounded with purpose and went 14-of-14 from the free-throw line the past two games.
He had a terrific game against Louisville on New Year's Eve. I don't believe the Cardinals will find a suitable matchup to slow him down in New Orleans.
During Louisville's wild ride to the Final Four, Russ Smith seemed to step up his game as the stakes got higher.
He came off the bench each game to provide Rick Pitino with instant offense and scrappy defense.
In the West Regional final against Florida, Smith stepped in and supplied 19 points in just 22 minutes, including several key plays in the Cardinals' comeback.
Smith will be one of Louisville's most important pieces when it squares off against the hated Kentucky Wildcats this weekend.
The look of elation on Jared Sullinger's face explains why he didn't jump to the NBA last year.
He returned because he wanted a chance to win a national title at Ohio State. This year, the Buckeyes are much closer to the prize, and Sullinger has been the cornerstone of their season.
His assertiveness, physical play and superior footwork have outmatched every forward he's encountered, including the frontcourts of Cincinnati and Syracuse.
Sullinger's matchup with Thomas Robinson Saturday is must-see television.
One can't underestimate the impact Anthony Davis has on every game. His development on offense is evident in this tournament, and his presence on defense changes the game for Kentucky.
Even in limited minutes against Indiana, he was too much for the Hoosiers on the glass and in the paint.
When the Wildcats squared off against Baylor in the Elite Eight, Davis turned in a Naismith-caliber game: 18 points, 11 rebounds and six blocks against a tough Bears front line.
If Kentucky gets past Louisville, Davis will face his toughest test against Jared Sullinger or Thomas Robinson.
The Kansas Jayhawks are back in the Final Four after a four-year hiatus, and Thomas Robinson has been the main ingredient for Bill Self's success.
Lawrence's favorite big man has ruled the paint so far in the tournament.
His outings against both Carolina teams were particularly dominant. He ate N.C. State for lunch, pummeling the Wolfpack on the boards for 15 rebounds. Then, he methodically wore down UNC's interior to earn a trip to the Final Four.