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Tuesday, March 20, 2012
Six unsung players with key roles

By Dick Vitale
ESPN.com

There are plenty of stars shining as we head to the Sweet 16.

You can point to the dominating performance of Anthony Davis, who is a game-changer in the lane for the top-seeded Wildcats of Kentucky. You can look at the way Jared Sullinger called for the ball and made big plays in the win over Gonzaga. Thomas Robinson has been a force all year long for Bill Self's Jayhawks.

My friends, there are a number of guys stepping up and playing major roles that may surprise you.

Here is a look at a group of players to keep an eye on Thursday and Friday. They will be vital if their teams are to move forward to the Elite Eight and beyond.

James Southerland, Syracuse
He hit 11-of-14 field goals, averaging 15 points and seven rebounds in 28 minutes per game off of the Orange bench.

Marquis Teague
Marquis Teague a potential weak spot at the point? Sure didn't look like it this weekend

Ryan Evans, Wisconsin
He got off to a fast start in both NCAA tournament games. He hit 10-of-15 shots from the field, totaling 29 points in wins over Montana and Vanderbilt.

Marquis Teague, Kentucky
The guard has really matured. While Davis and Michael Kidd-Gilchrist draw a lot of attention, Teague has been solid in the first two tourney games, totaling 36 points and 11 assists.

Deshaun Thomas, Ohio State
He is vital to the Buckeyes, even with Sullinger, William Buford and Aaron Craft in the lineup. Thomas has totaled 49 points and 19 rebounds in the two tourney wins.

Brady Heslip, Baylor
The transfer from Boston College hit nine-of-12 trifectas in a win over Colorado.

Walter Offutt, Ohio
The former Ohio State guard has hit 11-of-16 field goal attempts while totaling 32 points in his school's first two wins.

Keep an eye on these six as they try to help their respective teams to the Final Four.