The NCAA Tournament will not have a repeat champion for the sixth consecutive season. Kentucky made sure of that by failing to make the field of 68.
Beyond that, nothing’s for certain after a season a parity that saw the top teams swap positions like it was a hoedown.
Louisville: Coach Rick Pitino is one of the best minds in the game, and Peyton Siva and Russ Smith are capable of taking over any game.
Gonzaga: The Zags are big up front, love to play defense and have few weaknesses.
Kansas: Bill Self led the Jayhawks to the Final Four last year and has them in position to make another run.
Indiana: Will be hard to beat with its size, talent and depth.
Duke: Return of forward Ryan Kelly makes for a tough matchup for anyone.
Florida: It has one of the nation’s best backcourts, some beef up front and love to play defense.
No. 11 Belmont over No. 6 Arizona. The Bruins are one of the best 3-point shooting teams in the country. Get hot, Belmont could pull it off.
No. 12 Oregon over No. 5 Oklahoma State. The Ducks have a chip on their shoulder after winning the Pac-12 Tournament and being dropped to a 12 seed.
No. 11 Saint Mary’s over No. 6 Memphis. The Tigers have failed to get out of the first round the past two tournaments and Saint Mary’s is scrappy.
No. 11 Minnesota over No. 6 UCLA. The Gophers are athletic and should give UCLA fits.
No. 16 Western Kentucky over No. 1 Kansas. OK, it’s probably a stretch, but 16 will eventually beat a 1 and after this season of surprises, we decided to throw one in there.
Cody Zeller, Indiana. The 7-foot sophomore center can be unstoppable.
Kelly Olynyk, Gonzaga. The long-haired, long-armed 7-footer is long on talent.
Mason Plumlee, Duke. Was big reason it survived Kelly’s injury.
Jeff Withey, Kansas. Shot-swatting 7-footer is a difference-maker.
Trey Burke, Michigan. Big Ten Player of the Year in the running for national player of the year.