The madness of March has finally arrived. While everyone engages in last-minute research sessions to fill out their 2018 #NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament [VIDEO] bracket, don't forget the stars that will decide the games.

This time of year, the athletes are put on center stage and captivate the masses with scintillating performances. It's the same tournament that introduced Syracuse's Carmelo Anthony, Davidson's Stephen Curry [VIDEO] and UConn's Kemba Walker to the national audience.

Here's this year's group of talented players that look to follow in the footsteps of the outstanding performers that have come before them.

Deandre Ayton F (Arizona)

In many eyes, he's the best player in the country and tops nearly every 2018 NBA Draft board. Ayton has all the physical tools to make an impact in this era of hoops. At 7-foot-1, 250 pounds, he's an imposing big with an NBA-ready frame. Teams simply don't have an answer, because he dominates in the post and can stretch the floor with his outside shooting.

Ayton averaged a double-double, 20 points and 11.5 rebounds, but his recent stretch in March has everyone salivating for what happens next in the big tournament. This month, he's averaging 22.4 points and 13.6 rebounds including back-to-back 32-point games in the Pac-12 Tournament.

Take a look at some of his most memorable moments this season:

The No.4 ranked Wildcats will be challenged in what some are calling the most competitive region in the bracket.

Their first test comes Thursday (Mar. 15), when they face No. 13 Buffalo at 9:40 p.m.

Marvin Bagley F (Duke)

If it weren't for the emergence of Ayton, Bagley would be the best big man in college basketball. Bagley is seventh in the country (tied with Ayton) with 11.5 rebounds per game while averaging just over 21 points. The wirey 6-foot-11 freshman has a long wingspan and predominantly uses his left hand to create scoring opportunities that opposing players can't defend. He can also put the ball on the floor and drive past bigs with ease. Bagley has been brilliant in big games. Recently, he scored 33 points and 17 rebounds in a win against Norte Dame in the ACC Tournament. Here are the highlights:

Duke is as loaded and prepared for a deep run as they've been in recent history. But, they'll only go as far as Bagley will take them. Duke's first game is against No. 15 Iona on Thursday at 2:45 p.m.

Trae Young [VIDEO] G (Oklahoma)

Yet another phenomenal freshman. Most basketball fans know the name already because of his sensational start to the season that held the national headlines hostage.

The National Player of the Year candidate led the country in both points (27.4) and assists (8.8) per game.

Young's electric playing style rivals the aforementioned Curry as he can score from just about anywhere on the floor. His insanely quick trigger works from 30 feet just as well as it does from 20. Couple that with his ability to see the floor and make plays for teammates and it becomes easy to see why he's such a polarizing player.

Young struggled in the latter portion of the season and Oklahoma lost eight of their last 10 games. Despite the team's struggles, his confidence has never wavered.

That fact is evident from his 28-point performance against a fellow NCAA Tournament team in Kansas State, where Young mouthed the words, "I'm back," in an 86-77 win.

The Sooners will need this type of performance when they face a tough Rhode Island team on Thursday at 12:15 p.m.

Devonte Graham G (Kansas)

Alas, a senior player makes the list. He's a First Team All-American according to prominent news organizations that have already provided their selections. Graham is one of the best pure point guards in the nation and ranked not too far behind Young with 7.5 assists per game. One thing Graham has that Young doesn't, however, is a Big 12 championship. He scored 26 points in a road win against Texas Tech -- ranked No.6 at the time -- to clinch the regular season title.

Kansas beat West Virginia to win the Big 12 tournament and Graham finished with 18 points and 13 assists.

He takes and makes big shots in big games, a trait that will be vital for his team in the upcoming days. No.1 ranked Kansas takes on Penn on Thursday at 2:00 p.m.

Trevon Bluiett G (Xavier)

Bluiett is also a senior All-American. He also guided his team to a regular-season title and is a clutch performer. The 6-foot-6 guard has good size for his position that allows him to get off his shot against almost any defender. He also uses a lightning quick release to drown teams from outside where he shot over 42 percent this season.

He averaged a career-high 19.5 points while pulling down nearly six rebounds per game. Xavier was one of the top teams in the nation for the majority of the year and earned a No. 1 seed in the NCAA Tournament.

You can see some of Bluiett's best buckets here:

Bluiett and Xavier will look to advance further than last year's Elite Eight team. They play the winner of NCCU and Texas Southern on Friday (Mar. 16) at 7:20 p.m.

This year's tournament is loaded with studs and these five lead the pack. Be sure to get close to your screen any time these guys are scheduled to hit the hardwood. #Basketball Tournament #Deandre Ayton