NCAA Brackets 2013: Most Important Player in Each Region

Rob GoldbergFeatured ColumnistMarch 19, 2013

DURHAM, NC - MARCH 02:  Ryan Kelly #34 of the Duke Blue Devils celebrates after defeating the Miami Hurricanes 79-76 during their game at Cameron Indoor Stadium on March 2, 2013 in Durham, North Carolina.  (Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)
Streeter Lecka/Getty Images

The NCAA tournament will feature a lot of great players. However, a few of them will make a bigger impact than others.

While the nation's third-leading scorer Lamont Jones of Iona might put on a show in his first-round game against Ohio State, chances are his Gaels do not go far in the tournament. However, a hit-or-miss player might have a greater influence on who wins each region.

These players might force you to rip up your bracket, but they will have the greatest role in how the Final Four shapes up this season.


Midwest Region: Peyton Siva, Louisville

There is no one hotter in college basketball heading into the tournament than Louisville. The Cardinals have won 10 in a row to earn a share of the Big East regular-season title, as well as the conference tournament title.

While Russ Smith is the team's leading scorer and Gorgui Dieng is a solid defender, Louisville will only go as far as Peyton Siva will take it. 

When the point guard plays well, the offense runs smoothly. However, the Cardinals struggle when he starts jacking up bad shots, turns the ball over or gets into foul trouble.

Louisville has a chance to go to the Final Four and possibly win a national championship, but this will not be possible without some good performances from Siva.

Honorable Mention: Ryan Kelly, Duke; Doug McDermott, Creighton; Keith Appling, Michigan State


South Region: Otto Porter, Georgetown

Defensively, Georgetown is one of the best teams in the nation. In the last 15 games, only four teams have even been able to top 60 points.

On offense, the Hoyas are led by small forward Otto Porter. The sophomore can score in a number of ways and has the ability to have a huge performance when the team needs it.

The problem is that the rest of the roster is incredibly inconsistent. Markel Starks has had some good games, but it is not always enough. This puts even more pressure on Porter to carry the load for the roster.

While other top teams in the region like Florida and Kansas can get points from a bunch of different places, Georgetown is much more of a one-man team.

If he struggles, the Hoyas will not go far at all.

Honorable Mention: Trey Burke, Michigan; Ben McLemore, Kansas; Elijah Johnson, Kansas


West Region: Deshaun Thomas, Ohio State

Deshaun Thomas has a chance to score more total points than anyone else in the entire tournament. 

The Big Ten's leading scorer averaged 19.5 points per game and reached double figures in every contest this year. Considering no one else on the Buckeyes even averages double digits, Thomas is very important for a run.

In reality, the junior is going to get his points regardless; the key for him will be efficiency. In the team's last two games, Thomas only made 12 of his 38 shots from the floor. While these were both wins, this did not help the offense.

The forward needs to take easier shots to allow Lenzelle Smith and Aaron Craft to help out the offense.

Honorable Mention: Rodney McGruder, Kansas State; Kelly Olynyk, Gonzaga, Ryan Evans, Wisconsin


East Region: Cody Zeller, Indiana

Indiana has plenty of guys who can handle the scoring load in a game, but Cody Zeller is the most important player on the team.

The center is the only true interior player and he can score around the rim as well as anyone in the country. More importantly, there are not too many opponents who will be able to defend him.

If Zeller is assertive, he has the ability to get 20 points and 10 rebounds in almost every game of the tournament.

While players like Victor Oladipo and Christian Watford have plenty of skill, the Hoosiers can survive a bad game from either of them. They cannot survive a poor performance from Zeller at any point in this tournament.

Honorable Mention: Shane Larkin, Miami; Michael Carter-Williams, Syracuse; Anthony Bennett, UNLV


For a full printable NCAA tournament bracket, click here. Also, follow along Bleacher Report's live bracket. Make your picks for the 2013 NCAA tournament here with the Bracket Challenge Game.

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