For the 27th-straight tourney, Kansas is in. This is the 12th time that the Jayhawks earned the one seed and the second time the committee deemed Kansas as the overall No. 1 team. Bill Self’s squad is entering the tournament on a 14-game winning streak. They have four players who average double-digit points this season. KU is led by senior forward Perry Ellis. He averages 16.7 points per game. Even with the chaos surrounding the one seeds this regular season, Las Vegas still gives the edge to Kansas, making them the odds-on favorite to win it all (9-2 odds).
It has not been a happy tournament run for Jay Wright’s Wildcats in the past. For the last five appearances, Villanova hasn’t made it beyond the first weekend. In three of those tourneys they had a No. 3 seed or better. While Nova won the Big East regular season title, they fell to Seton Hall in the conference championship, 69-67. On the bright side, this balanced bunch has five players who average double-digit points per game. Four of those players are upperclassmen. Experience alone could carry this team deep into the bracket.
Last year, Miami made the final game…of the NIT. This is the third time in the last four seasons that coach Jim Larranaga led his Hurricane program to at least 25 wins. Seniors Sheldon McClellan and Angel Rodriguez are two of four Hurricanes who average double-digit points per contest. Miami missed this event the past two seasons, so they are hungry for more than just a couple wins this time around.
Off-the-court distractions can be a coach’s worst nightmare, especially around crunch time. Cal fired assistant coach Yann Hufnagel after sexual harassment allegations surfaced. As for the basketball team, five players average double-digit points and two of them produce at least 15 points per game. However, they are unbearable from the free throw line. In the Pac-12, Cal had the worst percentage from the charity stripe (66 percent).
Other notables: No. 10 Temple, No. 11 Wichita State, No. 12 South Dakota State