Making a run to the Midwest Regional Championship last season, Duke is a favorite to win the entire tournament this season.
The Tar Heels have already made great strides since a shaky start to the season, in which they looked anything but the part of an eventual No. 1 seed - especially in lopsided losses to MI in the ACC/Big Ten Challenge and Louisville at home. They have been heavily tied to NCAA investigations, lost 2 key players, and there are plenty of rumors about them losing their coach for different reasons. Coach Tony Bennett said his Cavaliers know what they have to do to be successful.
"We basically go through what's called an "autopsy" of the shoe".
FIRST TIMERS: Gardner-Webb and Abilene Christian will make their first appearances in this tournament, and they'll have their work cut out for them against top-seeded Virginia and No. 2 seed Kentucky.
Only once has a No. 16 seed beat a 1-seed. They have three players who could go in the top 10 of the upcoming NBA Draft, including a man who needs only one name: Zion.
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Duke basketball freshman Zion Williamson couldn't weigh 280 pounds without an appetite as legendary as his game; therefore, his teammates must dread standing behind the 6-foot-7 behemoth at any buffet. If they don't make it in the West, I suppose my next pick is MI. Their seeding in the Big East Tournament led to a crucial matchup with the Xavier Musketeers, which could have potentially been a "win and get in" situation. But if you don't live and breathe college hoops, it's easy to feel left out of the NCAA tournament fun. The talent of this year's draft class is present, but far less predictable than last year's stacked class. The Vols' only losses this season have been to ranked opponents: Kansas, Kentucky, LSU and Auburn (twice). Let's not discuss how they cheated and were banned from tournament play for a couple of years, shhhhhhhh...
In the first couple rounds, great teams are nearly always overvalued by the public, because, well, they're the best teams in the field.
DEFENDING CHAMPS: Villanova (25-9) will try to defend its title - and win its third championship in four years - as the sixth seed playing No. 11 seed Saint Mary's (22-11) on Thursday in Hartford, Connecticut.
With UCF, Florida and Florida State all participating, Bracket Fever is at an all-time high, and News 6 is providing you an opportunity to test your skill (or guessing ability) against our reporters and anchors, including Sports Director Jamie Seh and Ryan Welch.
HOME SWEET HOME: Cincinnati might not be happy being seeded seventh. White had been a revelation in stretching the floor for Duke, hitting a 3-pointer in 12 of the team's first 13 contests. The Hoosiers finished out the year by winning four-straight heading into the Big Ten tournament, but an early exit against the Ohio State Buckeyes may have doomed their chances.