NCAA Tournament: 16 Role Players Who Could Determine the Final Four

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NCAA Tournament: 16 Role Players Who Could Determine the Final Four
Ethan Miller/Getty Images

The NCAA tournament is generally billed as an opportunity for star players to rise to the occasion and lead their respective teams to glory.

While star power is extremely important in the tournament, it's also vital for a team to get good production from its role players if it's going to make a run to the Final Four.

Many tournament games are decided by a few key plays that can mean the difference between bowing out in the second round or putting together a four or five-game winning streak.

Players like Brian Zoubek, Korie Lucious and Joe Mazzulla were all role players for their respective teams last season, but their inspired play in the tournament helped carry Duke, Michigan State and West Virginia to the Final Four.

Whether it was Mazzulla's 17-point effort against Kentucky in the Elite Eight, Korie Lucious stepping in for an injured Kalin Lucas or the relentless rebounding of Brian Zoubek, all three players helped support the stars on their teams and became vital pieces on three of the Final Four teams.

At this point in the college basketball season, I think it's safe to say that we've identified who the best players in the nation are. With good reason, guys like Jared Sullinger, Nolan Smith, Jimmer Fredette and Kemba Walker (just to name a few) have been talked about for months now.

But instead of belaboring the point and continuing to shower praise upon some of the nation's best, let's give a little love to the role players out there who could potentially turn the tide for their respective teams much like Zoubek, Lucious and Mazzulla did just a year ago.

Generally speaking, the top four seeds in any region are the best bets to make the Final Four.

So I've chosen to highlight one role player from every top-four seed in this year's bracket who just might take that crucial charge, dive on that loose ball, block that shot or have the game of his life that propels a team to the Final Four or beyond.

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