Zags desperately need Elias Harris

Elias Harris, seen here in the 2010 NCAA Tournament, is a vital cog for the 'Zags. Getty Images

Your NCAA tournament prep begins now. All season long ESPN Insider will be previewing key games between tournament contenders from an advanced statistical point of view to see how teams really stack up. Keep these points in mind when the action starts, but also stick it in your bank of bracket knowledge for March.

The Gonzaga Bulldogs can't beat the Kansas State Wildcats if Elias Harris isn't healthy. According to reports, he will play Monday, but simply put, the Zags' entire season hinges on the health of their star.

He is the most important piece to the Zags' NCAA tournament puzzle this season because of his ability to bang inside and create second-chance opportunities for a team short on scorers.

But, at the moment, those abilities are missing. Even when he's been in the lineup.