Indiana's Victor Oladipo goes up for a slam dunk during an 81-73 victory… (Doug McSchooler / Associated…)
1 INDIANA: The Hoosiers’ six losses came against NCAA tournament teams. Their mix of high-scoring offense and ugh defense cinched a top-four seeding despite a Big Ten semifinal loss.
2 MIAMI: Experience and a strong backcourt led the ’Canes to their first Atlantic Coast Conference regular-season and tournament titles. And they have a clear path to a regional final.
3 MARQUETTE: The Golden Eagles represent a tough matchup along the front line. Forward Jamil Wilson has come on as a scorer and rebounder at the end of the season.
4 SYRACUSE: The Orange slumped late in the regular season, then rebounded to reach the Big East title game. Guard Michael Carter-Williams must keep the momentum going.
It has been awhile since Stephen Curry led Davidson to the Elite Eight. Now the 14th-seeded Wildcats have Jake Cohen scoring from all angles and a talented junior in De’mon Brooks, which means they have a chance at getting past Marquette and the winner of Butler/Bucknell.
Victor Oladipo, guard, Indiana
Oladipo isn’t his team’s top scorer or rebounder but has a very real chance to win player of the year. Why? Tough defense and a knack for making big plays on offense.
Anthony Bennett, forward, UNLV
With an average of 16 points and eight rebounds, this probable one-and-done freshman has been too strong for opponents to handle.
Shane Larkin, guard, Miami
The son of former baseball star Barry Larkin, Shane has grown by leaps and bounds as the season goes on, averaging 14 points and 4.3 assists.
The East could be the least-predictable region in an already wide-open tournament. Look for Davidson, Montana, Bucknell and California — playing before a home crowd — to test the seedings early.
Bucknell senior Mike Muscala is the multitalented center that no one this side of Lewisburg, Pa., knows about. He ranks first in the nation with 22 double-doubles this season and is a skilled shot-blocker.
Cue the John Williams soundtrack: Before the season, Bob Thomason announced he will retire after 25 years coaching Pacific. Wonder what his team will give him for a going-away present?