Team to beat
If March Madness appears to be Rock Chalk full of good but not great teams this year, Kansas is the exception and an easy choice for the No. 1 overall seed. The Jayhawks haven't lost since Jan. 25 at Iowa State and have the wind of 15 straight wins beneath their wings. Kansas coach Bill Self also has a core of cold-blooded upperclassmen who show little emotion but plenty of motion in senior PF Perry Ellis and junior guards Frank Mason and Wayne Selden. There are no guaranteed lottery picks among the group, yet they cruised through the toughest league in college basketball.
The Hurricanes enjoyed a 24-win regular season that tied a school record set by the 2013 team that won the ACC title. Although this season's 'Canes team fell to Virginia 73-68 in the conference tournament semifinals, it could make a deep run with an experienced backcourt. A year ago, coach Jim Larranaga's team missed the NCAA Tournament and was runnerup in the NIT. That served as motivation for the Hurricanes and their two sensational senior guards, Angel Rodriguez and Sheldon McClellan. If Miami can get by Buffalo then most likely Arizona, it would set up a Sweet 16 upset opportunity for the No. 3 seeded Hurricanes against second-seeded Villanova.
Players to watch
Kansas G Devonte' Graham had 27 points in the Big 12 tournament final against West Virginia, and we know how stars are born in the Big Dance. …Villanova G Ryan Arcidiacono, the Big East co-player of the year, has not been with the Wildcats for six years. It only seems that way. The senior is a do-everything player who averages 11.9 points and 4.4 assists. … Hawaii's Stefan Jankovic, a 6-foot-11 powerhouse of a forward who began his career at Missouri, averages 16 points and nearly seven rebounds. One of the best big men in the tournament, he led the Rainbows (27-5) to a fifth NCAA Tournament appearance. Now if he only he can lead them to the school's first tournament win.
Rick Stroud, Times staff writer