Louisville Coach Rick Pitino, talking with guard Russ Smith, has the Cardinals… (Mark Humphrey / Associated…)
1 LOUISVILLE: The Cardinals, seeded No. 1 in the tournament, have won 10 straight since losing the game of the season, 104-101, in five overtimes to Notre Dame in South Bend.
2 DUKE: The Blue Devils have two 6-11 seniors in the post, five players who average double figures in scoring, and as a team shoot better than 40% from three-point range.
3 MICHIGAN STATE: They’re back! The Spartans have made 16 consecutive NCAA¿ tournament appearances under the guidance of Coach Tom Izzo.
4 ST. LOUIS: Experience and balance. The Billikens’ top eight players are juniors and seniors and five of them average between 9.3 and 13.6 points a game.
Oregon, the Pac-12 tournament champion, has two wins over UCLA and others against Arizona and Nevada Las Vegas. And remember, like “Cinderella,” “The Mighty Ducks” was a Disney production.
Doug McDermott, forward, Creighton
Averaging 23.1 points, the 6-foot-8 forward is the leading scorer in the tournament. A 56.1% shooter overall, he has made 74 of 149 (49.7%) from three-point range.
Mason Plumlee, center, Duke
The 6-10 senior struggled some when routinely double-teamed while Ryan Kelly was out. He still leads the Blue Devils with averages of 17.2 points and 10.2 rebounds.
Marcus Smart, guard, Oklahoma State
The 6-4 guard is one of three freshmen to be Big 12 player of the year. The others: Kevin Durant and Michael Beasley.
Jim Crews was coaching an eighth-grade girls’ team when Rick Majerus offered him a spot on the St. Louis staff in October 2011. Crews, 59, has won 27 games as interim coach this season.
Doug McDermott ended up at Creighton when his father, Greg, moved there as coach. But before that, he was headed to Northern Iowa because his father, then the coach at Iowa State, didn’t recruit him.
Liberty is only the second team in NCAA tournament history to enter with 20 losses. The other was Coppin State in 2008.
Bryce Drew was a hero at Valparaiso even before leading it to the NCAA tournament in his second year as coach. He is the school’s career scoring leader and his three-point buzzer-beater beat Mississippi in a 1998 tournament game.