Final Four 2014: Under-the-Radar Players You Need to Watch in Dallas

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Final Four 2014: Under-the-Radar Players You Need to Watch in Dallas
Streeter Lecka/Getty Images
Florida's Michael Frazier II

The talent in this year's Final Four is bounteous and includes three Wooden Award finalists: UConn's Shabazz Napier, Kentucky's Julius Randle and Florida's Casey Prather.

While all of these players have undoubtedly been integral to their teams' successes, March Madness is about team basketball and none of these teams would be in Arlington without the following unsung heroes.

These players may not pop out of the box score on a nightly basis, but their contributions on the court merit your recognition heading into Saturday's pair of games.

 

Niels Giffey, Forward, SR, Connecticut

Fred Beckham
Connecticut's Niels Giffey is a gritty senior leader.

Giffey was not a highly touted recruit heading into college out of Berlin, Germany. However, over the past four seasons, he has become a key role player for the Huskies.

Giffey is one of three members of this squad that were on the 2011 national championship team—the others being Napier and role player Tyler Olander—so his experience will be valuable.

Giffey has struggled throughout the tournament, but expect the incredibly efficient shooter to step up his play in the Final Four. The last time Giffey hit fewer than 30 percent of his shots, as he did against Michigan State in the Elite Eight, he followed it up with a 24-point-performance, shooting 6-of-8 from beyond the arc.

A similar performance would be key facing Florida's elite defense that allows opponents to shoot just 32.8 percent from three-point-land.

 

Kasey Hill, Point Guard, FR, Florida

Al Messerschmidt/Getty Images
Florida's Kasey Hill is one of the nation's up-and-coming pure point guards.

Hill is another player who's been overshadowed by surrounding talent this season. Playing behind star Scottie Wilbekin, he has only played 22.2 minutes per game this season.

Hill has not been an efficient scorer for Florida, as he's struggled to find his shot at the college level. However, he's a great driver and can be very creative in the lane, where he is a proficient draw and kick passer.

Combine his pure point guard mentality on offense with excellent on-ball defending and you get a player that will be very valuable in the waning minutes of a close game—should Florida find itself in a struggle against UConn—a likely situation given the Huskies' penchant for close games.

 

Nigel Hayes, Power Forward, FR, Wisconsin

Mike McGinnis/Getty Images
Wisconsin's Nigel Hayes leads his team in free throws attempted.

Here we have another freshman who is making big contributions to his team off of the bench. Hayes wasn't expected to be so effective as a freshman, but by adding strength and working on his post game, he has become a commodity for the Badgers.

Hayes also draws fouls at an incredible rate and is leading his team in free-throw attempts. His defensive presence cannot be overlooked either, as he leads his team in steals and ranks third in blocks—despite playing a mere 17.7 minutes per game.

Kentucky has a notoriously weak bench, so this is a prime opportunity for a breakout performance from Hayes.

 

Michael Frazier II, Guard, SO, Florida

Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images
Florida's Michael Frazier is a streaky and prolific shooter.

Save an impressive performance against UCLA, Frazier has been inconsistent during the tournament—the 44.8 percent three-point shooter is shooting only 38.5 percent on 26 attempts through four games.

However, as the tournament has gone on, he's continued to play more efficiently—look for that to continue on Saturday. Frazier can explode from beyond the arc at any time, as we saw during the show he put on against South Carolina that included 37 points on 11-of-18 from three-point range.

He's one of the nation's best pure shooters so don't miss a chance to see him in action against UConn.

 

John Gasser, Small Forward, JR, Wisconsin

Andy Manis
Wisconsin's John Gasser is a huge contributor despite his lack of gaudy scoring numbers.

Gasser isn't a high-volume scorer, but he's been Wisconsin's secret weapon over the course of the season. His 1.74 points per attempt make him one of the nation's most efficient offensive players, and he rarely turns the ball over, with less than a turnover per game this season.

Gasser has yet to surpass 20 points in a single game to this point, but he's been a clutch shooter and seems to always come through when Wisconsin needs a kick-start on offense—this resilience will be key against the talented, but inconsistent Kentucky defense.

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