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NCAA Basketball March MadnessPittsburgh Panthers

2014 NCAA Tournament: Pittsburgh Basketball’s 5 Most Important Players

2014 NCAA Tournament: Pittsburgh's 5 Most Important Players

Pitt Panthers
Bob Donnan - USATODAY Sports

A No. 8 seed in the NCAA tournament wasn't exactly what the PIttsburgh Panthers were hoping for, but they have the potential to play a lot better and beat quality teams in the tournament. However, they need their key players to step up for them and lead the way. Here's a look at the top five players Pittsburgh will have during the 2014 NCAA tournament.

5. Jamel Artis

Jamel Artis Pittsburgh
Charles LeClaire - USATODAY Sports

5. Jamel Artis

Jamel Artis Pittsburgh
Charles LeClaire - USATODAY Sports

Artis is a wildcard for the Panthers. He's played a lot as a freshman, and if he can start to play like a sophomore late in the season and knock down some shots, he could be a key figure in Pittsburgh's tournament success.

4. James Robinson

James Robinson Pittsburgh
Charles LeClaire - USATODAY Sports

4. James Robinson

James Robinson Pittsburgh
Charles LeClaire - USATODAY Sports

When Robinson plays well, the Panthers are tough to beat. Case in point: his 19 points in Pittsburgh's win over North Carolina in the ACC tournament. If he's a frequent contributor in the tournament, the Panthers will be tough to beat.

3. Cameron Wright

Cameron Wright Pittsburgh
Charles LeClaire - USATODAY Sports

3. Cameron Wright

Cameron Wright Pittsburgh
Charles LeClaire - USATODAY Sports

Wright is Pittsburgh's third-leading scorer, and a third scorer is generally what separates the teams that get knocked out early from the teams that reach the tournament's second weekend. This is why Wright is so important. Pittsburgh isn't a high scoring team, but if Wright can get into double figures for them during the tournament, they'll be in good shape.

2. Talib Zanna

Talib Zanna Pittsburgh
Bob Donnan - USATODAY Sports

2. Talib Zanna

Talib Zanna Pittsburgh
Bob Donnan - USATODAY Sports

Zanna is the kind of post player that few teams in the NCAA tournament have, and he's playing great basketball late in the season. He's a good interior defender, which will slow down an opponent's inside scoring, and he's a ferocious rebounder, hauling in 21 boards against North Carolina in the ACC tournament. If Zanna stays out of foul trouble and can get a few buckets on the offensive end, he's a game-changer for the Panthers in the tournament.

1. Lamar Patterson

Lamar Patterson Pittsburgh
Charles LeClaire - USATODAY Sports

1. Lamar Patterson

Lamar Patterson Pittsburgh
Charles LeClaire - USATODAY Sports

Patterson is the guy that Pittsburgh can't win without. Like Talib Zanna, he's a fifth-year senior in a program that relies on its veterans to win games for them. The Panthers can't afford Patterson to have an off night during the tournament, because when the game's on the line and they need a basket, he's the one they'll turn to. That's why he'll be Pittsburgh's most important player during the NCAA tournament.