Northern Iowa Panthers
Record: 28-4, 15-3 Missouri Valley
Tourney history: 1-5, second round 1990
Coach: Ben Jacobson (87-42 at Northern Iowa)
Key win: A 67-52 win over rival Wichita State that secured the Panthers' second straight MVC tournament championship.
Key loss: A Feb. 23 one-point loss to Evansville, which finished last in the MVC.
Key player: Sr. F Adam Koch averaged 12.4 points and 4.8 rebounds this season and was named the MVC player of the year.
X-factor: Northern Iowa's bench has been a key factor and outscored Wichita State's 25-10 in the MVC championship game.
New Mexico State Aggies
Record: 22-11, 11-5 WAC
Tourney history: 10-19; Sweet 16 1970
Coach: Marvin Menzies (60-40 at New Mexico State)
Key win: A 69-63 win against top-seeded Utah State vaulted the Aggies into the NCAA Tournament for the first time in three years.
Key loss: A 100-68 loss at UCLA capped a 4-6 start to the season. The Aggies went on to win nine of their next 10 games.
Key player: Jr. G Jahmar Young averages 20.5 points and 3.5 rebounds.
X-factor: Menzies is a Rick Pitino disciple, having been an assistant at Louisville under him for two years.
Record: 19-15, 7-9 C-USA
Tourney history: 26-23; national runnerup 1983 and 1984
Coach: Tom Penders (121-76 at Houston, 594-419 overall)
Key win: Beating Memphis twice is solid, but not as much as knocking off UTEP in the Conference USA championship game.
Key loss: A week before their tournament run, the Cougars took an embarrassing 79-76 loss at Tulane, which finished 8-22.
Key player: Sr. G Aubrey Coleman led the nation in scoring at 26 points per game, including nine games with at least 30 points.
X-factor: Houston's supporting cast is key — Coleman went 4-for-20 in the win against UTEP, but the Cougars got 28 points from its other 6-4 Sr. G, Kelvin Lewis.
Record: 21-14, 7-9 Mid-American
Tourney history: 4-12; Elite Eight 1964
Coach: John Groce (36-31 at Ohio)
Key win: The Bobcats, the ninth seed, stunned top-seeded Akron 81-75 in OT to win the Mid-American Conference tournament on Saturday.
Key loss: They lost decisively at Pittsburgh, 74-49, on Dec. 22.
Key player: Jr. G Armon Bassett averages 16.9 points and was far better in the MAC tournament, averaging 29 to earn the MVP.
X-factor: Groce has learned about getting teams ready for the NCAA Tournament as an assistant under Herb Sendek and Thad Matta.
Record: 20-9, 12-4 Big West
Tourney history: 1-3; second round, 1990
Coach: Bob Williams (199-155 at UC Santa Barbara, 388-255 overall)
Key win: 69-64 over Long Beach in the Big West tournament final, its first title since 2002 and fifth NCAA appearance.
Key loss: 57-55 on Jan. 2 to UC Irvine, which finished tied for second to last in the Big West.
Key player: So. G Orlando Johnson, the Big West player of the year, averages 18 points, 5.5 rebounds and 2.3 assists.
X-factor: Momentum. The Gauchos won nine of their final 10 games, which would indicate UCSB is playing its best when it counts the most.
Lehigh Mountain Hawks
Record: 22-10, 10-4 Patriot League
Tourney history: 0-3
Coach: Brett Reed (51-39 at Lehigh)
Key win: 74-59 over Lafayette in the Patriot League championship game, giving the Mountain Hawks their first conference title since 2004 and fourth NCAA berth.
Key loss: The 71-52 loss to Stony Brook that ended a three-game winning streak.
Key player: Fr. G C.J. McCollum is first nationally among freshman with 18.9 points per game and also averages 4.9 rebounds.
X-factor: Perimeter game. The Mountain Hawks are ranked eighth nationally in 3-point shooting, averaging 40 percent from beyond the arc, and have hit at least five 3-pointers in 24 games this season.
San Diego State Aztecs
Record: 25-8, 11-5 Mountain West
Tourney history: 0-5
Coach: Steve Fisher (198-148 at S.D. State, 382-230 overall)
Key win: The Aztecs beat visiting New Mexico 74-64 on Jan. 5.
Key loss: Somehow, the Aztecs were nipped by lowly Wyoming 85-83 on Jan. 9.
Key player: Fr. F Kawhi Leonard lived up to the hype as one of the program's most heralded prospects; he had nine double doubles in league play.
X-factor: Fisher's bunch gets after teams, holding opponents to 61.8 ppg, the stingiest in the Mountain West.
Ga. Tech Yellow Jackets
Record: 22-12, 7-9 ACC
Tourney history: 22-15; national runnerup 2004
Coach: Paul Hewitt (176-143 at Tech, 242-170 overall)
Key win: The Yellow Jackets beat Duke 71-67 in Atlanta on Jan. 9.
Key loss: A buzzer-beating jumper by Miami meant a 64-62 loss on Feb. 10.
Key player: So. F Gani Lawal averaged nearly a double double during the regular season (13.6 ppg, 8.8 rpg).
X-factor: If Fr. F Derrick Favors plays like a "one-and-done," the Jackets can be tough, especially on the boards at both ends.