Best round of 64 matchup: It's hard to know what to make of Baylor. The very athletic Bears are capable of inexplicably bad stretches, like a late January slump that included five consecutive losses. But when they're playing well, as they did in winning 10 of their past 12 games, the combination of length and talent is a difficult matchup for almost anyone. Nebraska's return to the NCAA tournament is one of the season's better stories. But for a microcosm of the Huskers, look no further than the Big Ten tournament, which featured a come-from-ahead loss to Ohio State, when an 18-point lead evaporated in the last 13 minutes. Who wins? Who knows? Baylor and Nebraska are absolutely unpredictable, which could make for a really fun meeting.
Potential upset: Arizona didn't get rewarded with its potential opponent in the round of 32. Of Oklahoma State's 12 losses, 10 came by six points or less or in overtime. Led by a potential lottery pick in sophomore guard Marcus Smart, as well as underrated sidekick Markel Brown, No. 9 seed Oklahoma State rebounded in a big way from a midseason funk. After seven consecutive losses — and losing Smart to a three-game suspension after shoving a fan in a loss at Texas Tech — Oklahoma State has won five of its past seven, including a win vs. Kansas. The two losses were in overtime, at Iowa State and to Kansas in the Big 12 tournament. If the late-season run continues, the Cowboys are very capable of knocking the Wildcats out and making a deep run.
BRACKET TIPS: How to dominate this March Madness
NEBRASKA: Miles and Cornhuskers get the last laugh
The sleeper: The West is full of teams that overcame alarming slumps and played well down the stretch. No. 7 Oregon rebounded with a late-season run that included a win vs. Arizona. Dana Altman cobbled together another band of hot-shooting transfers. The Ducks don't always play defense or rebound, but led by junior guard Joseph Young (18.6 points, 41.6% from three-point range), when they get hot, they're tough to handle, hitting almost 40% of their three-point attempts and 76.6% from the foul line. Oregon has already beaten round of 64 opponent Brigham Young once. The Ducks' offense vs. Wisconsin's defense could make for a very entertaining matchup. If they get hot, they could make a deep run.
PRINTABLE BRACKET: Follow your team's road to the Final Four
The winner: Never mind the loss to UCLA in the Pac-12 championship game. With a battle-tested squad led by All-America junior guard Nick Johnson (16.2 points) and freshman forward Aaron Gordon (12.1 points, 7.8 rebounds), Sean Miller has his best Arizona team yet. After starting the season with a school-record 21-game winning streak, the Wildcats were handed their first loss, to California, on the same night they lost starting forward Brandon Ashley to a season-ending foot injury. But they retooled and, in a deep Pac-12, ran away with the league's regular-season race. Their four losses were by a combined 16 points. Their devoted fans should travel en masse to San Diego and Anaheim. It won't be easy, but the Wildcats are the pick to emerge from the West — and maybe to win the whole thing.
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Nickname: Wildcats. Location: Tucson.
Record: 30-4, (15-3). Bid: Pac-12 at-large.
Last appearance: 2013, lost to Ohio State in regional semifinal.
Coach: Sean Miller, 11-6 in six appearances.
Overview: The Wildcats ran away with the Pac-12 regular-season title, finishing three games ahead of second-place UCLA. Losing Brandon Ashley, the team's third-leading scorer, to a season-ending foot injury was a midseason blow to Arizona's depth. But Pac-12 Player of the Year Nick Johnson and Freshman of the Year Aaron Gordon kept the team rolling down the stretch.
Did you know? With all three of their regular-season losses coming on the road, Arizona watched as opposing fans rushed the court each time.
Starters: G Nick Johnson, 6-3, Jr. (16.1 ppg, 4.0 rpg), F Aaron Gordon, 6-9, Fr. (12.3 ppg, 7.8 rpg), C Kaleb Tarczewski, 7-0, So. (10.2 ppg, 6.7 rpg, 58.3 FG%), G T.J. McConnell, 6-1, Jr., (8.3 ppg, 5.5 apg), G Gabe York, 6-3, So. (6.8 ppg, 40.2 3FG%).
Nickname: Badgers. Location: Madison.
Record: 26-7, 12-6. Bid: Big Ten at-large.
Last appearance: 2013, lost to Mississippi in second round.
Coach: Bo Ryan, 16-12 in 12 appearances.
Overview: The Badgers had an extremely streaky season, starting 16-0, losing five of six and then winning eight in a row before losing the regular-season finale. An experienced team, Wisconsin made it to the Big Ten semifinals and enters the tournament with confidence from a strong finish.
Did you know? Guard Traevon Jackon's father Jim Jackson was the fourth overall pick in the 1992 NBA draft. He played for 12 teams in 14 NBA seasons and was the last Laker to wear No. 24 before Kobe Bryant.
Starters: G Ben Brust, 6-1, Sr. (12.4, ppg, 4.7 rpg, 88.4 FT%); G Traevon Jackson, 6-2, Jr. (10.8 ppg, 3.6 rpg, 3.9 apg); G Josh Gasser, 6-3, Jr. (9.5 ppg, 4.9 rpg, 46.2 3FG%); F Sam Dekker, 6-7, So. (12.9 ppg, 6.2 rpg, 46.8 FG%); F Frank Kaminsky, 7-0, Jr. (13.4 ppg, 6.4 rpg, 40.3 3FG%).
Nickname: Bluejays. Location: Omaha.
Record: 26-7, 14-4. Bid: Big East at-large.
Last appearance: 2013, lost to Duke in the third round.
Coach: Greg McDermott, 2-5 in five appearances.
Overview: The Bluejays made the transition to the Big East look seamless, finishing second in the league and making the conference tournament final. They have two key ingredients to make a NCAA run: experience and great shooting. All five starters make at least 40% of their three-pointers.
Did you know? Creighton is the only school to rank in the top 10 in attendance for men's basketball, baseball and men's soccer.
Statistics: F Doug McDermott, 6-8, Sr. (26.5 ppg, 7.2 rpg, 52.9 FG%, 44.7 3FG%, 86.7 FT%); F Ethan Wragge, 6-7, Sr. (10.7 ppg, 4.0 rpg, 47.8 3FG%, 82.4 FT%); G Grant Gibbs, 6-5, Sr. (7.6 ppg, 48.6 3FG%); G Austin Chatman, 6-0, Jr. (7.6 ppg, 4.3 apg, 40.3 3FG%); G Jahenns Manigat 6-1, Sr. (7.1 ppg, 3.0 ag, 41.1 3FG%, 88.2 FT%).
4. San Diego State
Nickname: Aztecs. Location: San Diego.
Record: 29-4, 16-2. Bid: Mountain West at-large.
Last appearance: 2013, lost to Florida Gulf Coast in the third round.
Coach: Steve Fisher, 23-12 in 13 appearances.
Overview: Any team that faces the Aztecs must figure out a way to score on defense that ranks near the top in every major category. The domination in that area carried them to one of the best records in the country, despite an offense — led by Mountain West player of the year Xavier Thames — that doesn't shoot well from the field or free-throw line.
Did you know? Since the 2010-11 season, San Diego State has the nation's top record (33-10) in games decided by six points or fewer.
Statistics: G Xavier Thames, 6-3, Sr. (16.9 ppg, 3.0 apg, 38.6 3FG%, 82.9 FT%); F Skylar Spencer, 6-10, So. (5.1 ppg, 4.1 rpg, 57.0 FG%); F Winston Shepard, 6-8, So. (12.3 ppg, 5.2 rpg); F J.J. O'Brien, 6-7, Jr. (8.3 ppg, 4.9 rpg, 56.8 FG%); F Josh Davis, 6-8, Sr. (8.0 ppg, 9.9 rpg).
Nickname: Sooners. Location: Norman.
Record: 23-9, 12-6. Bid: Big 12 at-large.
Last appearance: 2013, lost to San Diego State in second round.
Coach: Lon Kruger, 14-14 in 14 appearances.
Overview: The Sooners have consistency to their advantage: All five starters have started every game, and Tyler Neal is the Big 12 co-sixth-man-of-the-year, providing an offensive boost. That offense is second in the league (82.2) but the defense is last (75.9). The Sooners are dangerous from the foul line at a league-best 75%, tied for 17th nationally.
Did you know? Kruger is the only coach to lead five different teams to the NCAA tournament — Kansas State, Florida, Illinois, UNLV and the Sooners.
Starters: G Isaiah Cousins, 6-4, So. (11 ppg, 4.1 rpg, 81.3 FT%); G Buddy Hield, 6-4, So. (16.8 ppg, 4.4 rpg); G Jordan Woodard, 6-0, Fr. (10.3 ppg, 4.6 apg); F Cameron Clark, 6-7, Sr. (15.2 ppg, 5.6 rpg, 43.7 3FG%); F Ryan Spangler, 6-8, So. (9.9 ppg, 9.4 rpg, 60.0 FG%).
Nickname: Bears. Location: Waco, Texas.
Record: 24-11, 9-9. Bid: Big 12 at-large.
Last appearance: 2012, lost to Kentucky in regional final.
Coach: Scott Drew, 6-3 in three appearances.
Overview: Despite losing to Iowa State in the conference tournament final, the Bears have been on an impressive late-season run, winning nine of their last 11. Senior guard Brady Heslip is the best 3-point shooter in the conference and 18th in the country with 3.09 a game and fifth in percentage at 46.4.
Did you know? Football was banned by Baylor in 1906. The ban lasted just one year due to the student backlash.
Starters: G Brady Heslip, 6-2, Sr. (11.5 ppg, 46.4 3FG%, 72.2 FT%); G Kenny Chery, 5-11, Jr. (86.7 FT%, 11.7 ppg, 5 apg); F Royce O'Neale, 6-6, Jr. (52.1 FG%, 44.0 3FG%, 4.7 rpg); F Cory Jefferson, 6-9, Sr. (50.9 FG%, 41.4 3FG%, 13.4 ppg, 8.1 rpg); C Isaiah Austin, 7-1, So. (10.6 ppg, 5.5 rpg, 3.1 bpg).
Nickname: Ducks. Location: Eugene.
Record: 23-9, (10-8). Bid: Pac-12 at-large.
Last appearance: 2013, lost to Louisville in regional semifinal.
Coach: Dana Altman, 4-9 in 9 appearances.
Overview: The Ducks won't be flying under the radar this March after making a Sweet 16 run in 2013. Oregon won eight games in a row before falling to UCLA in the conference tournament quarterfinals. Sharpshooter Joseph Young paced an offense that ranked No. 12 in the country with 81.8 points per game.
Did you know? Oregon won the first NCAA men's basketball national tournament in 1939.
Starters: G Joseph Young, 6-2, Jr. (18.2 ppg, 40.6 3FG%), F Mike Moser, 6-8, Sr. (13.7 ppg, 8.2 rpg), G Damyean Dotson, 6-5, So. (10.1 ppg), G Johnathan Loyd, 5-8, Sr. (7.5 ppg, 4.8 apg), C Waverly Austin, 6-11, Sr. (1.9 ppg).
Nickname: Bulldogs. Location: Spokane, Wash.
Record: 28-6, 15-3. Bid: West Coast champ.
Last appearance: 2013, lost to Wichita State in round of 32.
Coach: Mark Few, 15-14 in 14 appearances.
Overview: The Zags are in their 16th consecutive NCAA tournament, but a deep run would be a surprise for this group that lacks a complete post presence. When the treys aren't falling, Sam Dower has to do a lot.
Did you know? Gonzaga is the home of the Bing Crosby Library, featuring an extensive collection of recordings, photographs and awards. Crosby grew up in Spokane and attended Gonzaga in the 1920s before pursuing his career in Hollywood.
Starters: F Sam Dower, 6-9, Sr. (15.0 ppg, 7.1 rpg, 59.0 fg%, 82.8 ft%); G Kevin Pangos, 6-2, Jr. (14.1 ppg, 3.3 rpg, 3.7 apg, 87.5 ft%, 41.1 3fg%); G Gary Bell Jr, 6-2, Jr. (11.2 ppg, 80.3 ft%, 42.7 3fg%); G David Stockton, 5-11, Sr. (7.5 ppg, 4.2 apg); C Przemek Karnowski, 7-1, So. (10.2 ppg, 6.9 rpg, 59.0 fg%).
9. Oklahoma State
Nickname: Cowboys. Location: Stillwater.
Record: 21-12, 8-10. Bid: Big 12 at-large.
Last appearance: 2013, lost to Oregon in second round.
Coach: Travis Ford, 1-4 in four appearances.
Overview: The Cowboys are picking up steam again after an up-and-down season. The team started 16-3 before losing seven in a row, including a loss at Texas Tech where star guard Marcus Smart shoved a fan and was suspended for three games.
Did you know? Opening in 1938, Oklahoma State's Gallagher-Iba Arena is the conference's oldest basketball venue. The original maple floor remains in use.
Starters: G Marcus Smart, 6-4, So. (17.9 ppg, 5.6 rpg, 4.7 apg, 2.7 spg); G Phil Forte, 5-11, So. (13.2 ppg, 86.7 FT%, 45.2 3FG%); G/F Markel Brown, 6-3, Sr. (17.2 ppg, 3 apg, 5.6 rpg); G/F Le'Bryan Nash, 6-7, Jr. (14.2 ppg, 5.7 rpg, 52.3 FG%); F/C Kamari Murphy, 6-8, So. (6.4 rpg, 55.1 FG%).
10. Brigham Young
Nickname: Cougars. Location: Provo, Utah.
Record: 23-11, 13-5. Bid: West Coast at-large.
Last appearance: 2012, lost to Marquette in round of 64.
Coach: Dave Rose, 4-6 in six appearances.
Overview: The Cougars' advancement hopes took a huge hit with the loss of G Kyle Collinsworth (14.0 ppg, 8.1 rpg, 4.6 apg) to a knee injury in the WCC tourney final. Creating open looks for Tyler Haws could be a challenge.
Did you know? Among BYU's many prominent alumni is Philo T. Farnsworth, credited with the invention of electronic television.
Starters: G Tyler Haws, 6-5, Jr. (23.4 ppg, 3.8 rpg, 88.0 ft%, 41.1 3fg%); G Matt Carlino, 6-2, Jr. (13.7 ppg, 3.4 rpg, 4.3 apg); F Eric Mika, 6-10, Fr. (11.7 ppg, 6.4 rpg, 52.9 fg%); F Nate Austin, 6-11, Jr. (3.8 ppg, 8.0 rpg); G Anson Winder, 6-3, Jr. (6.5 ppg).
Nickname: Cornhuskers. Location: Lincoln.
Record: 19-12, 11-7. Bid: Big Ten at-large.
Last appearance: 1998, lost to Arkansas in first round.
Coach: Tim Miles, 0-1 in one appearance.
Overview: After starting 0-4 in Big Ten play, the surprising Cornhuskers turned things around in a major way, notching signature wins against Ohio State, Michigan State and Wisconsin.
Did you know? Freshman guard Tai Webster plays for the New Zealand national team and averaged 13.5 points in the 2012 FIBA World Olympic Qualifying Tournament when he was 17 years old.
Starters: G Shavon Shields, 6-7, So. (12.7 ppg, 5.8 rpg, 44.2 FG%); G Ray Gallegos, 6-2, Sr. (7.0 ppg, 2.0 rpg, 75.0 FT%); G Tai Webster, 6-4, Fr. (4.2, 2.1 rpg, 2.0 apg); F Terran Petteway, 6-6, So. (18.0 ppg, 4.9 rpg, 81.7 FT%); F Walter Pitchford, 6-10, So. (9.4 ppg, 4.7 rpg, 48.1 FG%).
12. North Dakota State
Nickname: Bison. Location: Fargo.
Record: 25-6, 12-2. Bid: Summit League champ.
Last appearance: 2009, lost to Kansas in first round.
Coach: Saul Phillips, 0-1 in one appearance.
Overview: Summit League POY Taylor Braun stuffed the box scores for Coach Phillips' squad, leading the conference in scoring. The Bison will rely on Braun and senior forward Marshall Bjorklund to fuel an offense shot 50.9% from the field to lead the nation.
Did you know? Braun was three days away from committing to a Division II school in Oregon until NDSU offered him a scholarship.
Starters: F Marshall Bjorklund, 6-8, Sr. (13.6 ppg, 4.4 rpg, 63.9 FG%); F TrayVonn Wright, 6-7, Sr. (11.2 ppg, 5.1 rpg); G Taylor Braun, 6-7, Sr. (18.0 ppg, 5.5 rpg, 4.0 apg, 41.2 3FG%); G Lawrence Alexander, 6-3, Jr. (11.3 ppg, 4.3 rpg); G Kory Brown, 6-4, So. (7.0 ppg, 4.3 rpg, 59.1 FG%)
13. New Mexico State
Nickname: Aggies. Location: Las Cruces.
Record: 26-9, 12-4. Bid: WAC champ.
Last appearance: 2013, lost to Saint Louis in second round.
Coach: Marvin Menzies, 0-3 in three appearances.
Overview: Most of these guys have NCAA experience, and Sim Bhullar can alter the way opponents attack the rim. Daniel Mullings played well at the point in the WAC tournament in place of suspended K.C. Ross-Miller, whose reinstatement has yet to be determined by the school.
Did you know? An on-campus observatory is named for Clyde Tombaugh, discoverer of Pluto and several other objects in the solar system who was a member of the NMSU faculty from 1955 until his retirement in 1973.
Starters: G Daniel Mullings, 6-2, Jr. (16.8 ppg, 4.9 rpg, 3.5 apg); G D.K. Eldridge, 6-2, Jr. (11.5 ppg, 4.6 rpg, 2.0 apg, 40.4 3fg%); C Sim Bhullar, 7-5, So. (10.3 ppg, 7.9 rpg, 3.4 bpg, 64.7 fg%); F Tshilidzi Nephawe, 6-10, Jr. (11.1 ppg, 7.8 rpg, 55.5 fg%); G Kevin Aronis, 6-3, Sr. (7.5 ppg).
Nickname: Ragin' Cajuns. Location: Lafayette, La.
Record: 23-11, 11-7. Bid: Sun Belt champ.
Last appearance: 2005, lost to Louisville in first round.
Coach: Bob Marlin, 0-2 in two appearances.
Overview: With two improbable upsets in the Sun Belt tourney, the Ragin' Cajuns claimed their first NCAA automatic berth in Marlin's fourth season in Lafayette. Payton and Long are the big scorers, but the confidence shown by role players in the postseason could make them dangerous.
Did you know? Among ULL's research initiatives are several projects in the biology department looking into the restoration of Louisiana's coastal wetlands.
Starters: G Elfrid Payton, 6-3, Jr. (19.1 ppg, 6.0 rpg, 6.0 apg, 2.3 spg); F Shawn Long, 6-9, So. (18.9 ppg, 10.4 rpg, 2.8 bpg); G Bryant Mbamalu, 6-2, Sr. (12.5 ppg, 4.1 rpg); G Xavian Rimmer, 6-2, Jr. (8.4 ppg, 2.3 rpg, 42.4 3fg%); F Elridge Moore, 6-5, Sr. (4.2 ppg, 3.8 rpg).
Nickname: Eagles. Location: Washington, D.C.
Record: 20-12, 13-5. Bid: Patriot League champ.
Last appearance: 2009, lost to Villanova in first round.
Coach: Mike Brennan, first appearance.
Overview: Brennan took over a team picked in the preseason to finish next-to-last in the Patriot and guided it to the title, tying the school mark for wins by a first-year coach. American enters the tournament shooting 49.5% from the field. AU leans heavily on its starters with four averaging at least 32 minutes.
Did you know? Starter Darius Gardner played on a Yates High team in Houston that finished No. 1 in the USA TODAY Super 25 rankings in 2010.
Starters: G Jesse Reed, 6-5, So. (14.2 ppg, 4.4 rpg, 53.1 FG%, 49.1 3FG%); F Tony Wroblicky, 6-10, Sr. (12.2 ppg, 7.3 rpg, 59.4 FG%); G John Schoof, 6-5, Jr. (11.8 ppg, 76.8 FT%); G Darius Gardner, 5-9, Jr. (11.3 ppg, 3.7 rpg, 4.3 apg, 2.1 spg, 51.5 FG%); F Kyle Kager, 6-8, Jr. (6.0 ppg, 3.7 rpg, 76.4 FT%).
16. Weber State
Nickname: Wildcats. Location: Ogden, Utah.
Record: 19-11, 14-6. Bid: Big Sky champ.
Last appearance: 2007, lost to UCLA in first round.
Coach: Randy Rahe, 0-1 in 1 appearance
Overview: Rahe has won four conference titles in his eight seasons as head coach of the Wildcats. He uses a seven-man rotation, each player receiving more than 15 minutes of playing time. Weber State has three double-digit scorers in its starting lineup. Davion Berry was named Big Sky MVP.
Did you know? The Wildcats have won 21 Big Sky regular-season championships. Weber State also became the first school to reach 500 Big Sky wins.
Starters: G/F Davion Berry, 6-4, Sr. (19.1 ppg, 4.4 rpg, 4.0 apg); F Joel Bolomboy, 6-9, So. (8.6 ppg, 10.8 rpg); C Kyle Tresnak, 6-10, Sr. (11.2 ppg, 4.8 apg); G Jordan Richardson, 6-1, Sr. (7.2 ppg, 2.5 apg); G Jeremy Senglin, 6-2, Fr. (11.1 ppg, 2.1 rpg, 2.2 apg).