1 North Carolina
Overall: 29-5 | Atlantic Coast: 14-2 | Last 10: 9-1
Star power: Forward Harrison Barnes averages 17.4 points, and 7-foot senior center Tyler Zeller averages 16.5 points and 9.3 rebounds.
The Tar Heels began the year No. 1, but had a few pitfalls along the way. They are obviously talented enough to win the title, but it’s hard to put too much faith in a team that lost a game by 33 points (at Florida State).
Vermont: 23-11, 13-3 America East | Lamar: 23-11, 11-5 Southland
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Star power: Four McGlynn, a reserve freshman guard, averages 12.0 points for Vermont; senior guard Mike James averages 17.2 points for Lamar.
The Catamounts pulled off a stunner in 2005 when they knocked out Syracuse in the first round. Neither team has a shot at winning twice.
Overall: 27-6 | Big 12: 16-2 | Last 10: 9-1
Star power: Junior forward Thomas Robinson is one of the best players in the country, averaging 17.0 points and 11.8 rebounds. Tyshawn Taylor averages 17.3 points.
The Jayhawks missed the Final Four last year when they were upset by Virginia Commonwealth in the regional finals. This year’s team is good enough to make it at least a step further.
Overall: 22-13 | Horizon: 11-7 | Last 10: 9-1
Star power: Sophomore guard Ray McCallum averages team-high 15.6 points and 3.9 assists.
This is the Titans’ first trip to the NCAA tournament since 1999, when they knocked off UCLA in the first round. Horizon League’s Butler made it to the past two title games. Still, even one win would be a surprise.
Overall: 23-8 | Big East: 12-6 | Last 10: 6-4
Star power: Senior guard Jason Clark leads the team in scoring (13.9 points) and minutes (32.6).
The Hoyas have played well on the road, winning at Alabama and Louisville and losing a close one at Syracuse. The Big East was down a bit, but Georgetown has a good shot to make it past the first weekend. Still, it’s no lock vs. Belmont.
Overall: 27-7 | Atlantic Sun: 16-2 | Last 10: 10-0
Star power: Junior guard Kerron Johnson averages a team-high 14.1 points and 5.2 assists.
This is the Bruins’ fifth tourney appearance in past seven seasons, but they are still looking for their first win in this event. They have won 14 straight and lost by just a point at Duke. Belmont has a legitimate shot at a first-round victory.
Overall: 24-9 | Big Ten 13-5 | Last 10: 7-3
Star power: Freshman guard Trey Burke averages 14.8 points and 4.6 assists. Sophomore guard Tim Hardaway Jr. averages 14.6 points.
The Wolverines are an entertaining team and have several players who are dangerous from three-point range. Bruising teams give them issues. Will need to be hitting from the outside to make it past the first weekend.
Overall: 27-7 | Mid-American: 11-5 | Last 10: 8-2
Star power: Junior guard D.J. Cooper averages a team-high 14.6 points and 5.7 assists.
The Bobcats played great at Louisville early in the season, leading late before falling 59-54. Teams from this conference often do better than predicted in the tournament. If you are looking for a longshot, this would be a good team to consider.
Overall: 24-7 | Atlantic 10: 13-3 | Last 10: 8-2
Star power: Senior guard Ramone Moore averages 17.7 points, and junior guard Khalif Wyatt averages 17.1 points.
The Owls had a nice win at Saint Louis and finished the season right, winning 14 of 16 games. Fran Dunphy is a good coach, and he has a talented and experienced backcourt. Temple could be one of the surprises of the tournament.
12 California/S. Florida
Cal: 24-9, 13-5 Pac-12; S. Florida: 20-13, 12-6 Big East
Star power: Jorge Gutierrez averages 13.1 points, 5.3 rebounds and 4.1 assists for Cal; senior forward Augustus Gilchrist scores team-high 9.6 a game for the Bulls.
California is gritty and has a great coach in Mike Montgomery. The Pac-12 could really use a win here. Can’t imagine either team making a long run.
6 San Diego State
Overall: 26-7 | Mountain West: 10-4 | Last 10: 6-4
Star power: Sophomore guard Jamaal Franklin averages 17.2 points and 7.9 rebounds.
Last year’s team won twice in the tournament, the first tourney victories in school history. That team was deeper and stronger than this one, but the Aztecs are capable of winning at least once this year.
11 North Carolina State
Overall: 22-12 | Atlantic Coast: 9-7 | Last 10: 5-5
Star power: Sophomore forward C.J. Leslie averages a team-high 14.6 points and 7.5 rebounds.
The Wolfpack won a couple of times in the ACC tournament and likely needed both of those wins to get a bid. NC State was 0-8 when playing teams that were ranked. Predicting a loss against the Aztecs.
7 St. Mary’s
Overall: 27-5 | West Coast: 14-2 | Last 10: 7-3
Star power: Junior point guard Matthew Dellavedova leads the team in scoring (15.6) and assists (6.4) and is an excellent long-range shooter.
The Gaels have several good three-point shooters, and burly forward Rob Jones gives the team a good inside presence. This team could be one of the surprises of the tournament.
Overall: 21-12 | Big Ten: 10-8 | Last 10: 6-4
Star power: Senior forward Robbie Hummel returned from more than a year’s absence to average 16.3 points and 7.1 rebounds.
Hummel made it all the way back from two major knee surgeries, and he combines with senior point guard Lewis Jackson to give the Boilermakers a nice 1-2 punch. A win over the Gaels would be a mild surprise.
Overall: 28-5 | Missouri Valley: 14-4 | Last 10: 7-3
Star power: Sophomore forward Doug McDermott averages 22.9 points on 61 percent shooting (49 percent on three-pointers) and 8.2 rebounds.
Blue Jays were 21-2 before losing three in a row in early February. The Missouri Valley Conference is a lot better than people think. Creighton would have a shot against North Carolina.
Overall: 21-11 | Southeastern: 9-7 | Last 10: 6-4
Star player: Senior forward JaMychal Green missed four games in February, but is playing now and averages 14.0 points and 7.4 rebounds.
Crimson Tide lost four straight in January but finished OK to secure a tournament bid. The Tide lost by just six points at Kentucky, but am still not sold. Not expecting any wins.