SOUTH REGION — CHARLOTTE, N.C.
(1) VIRGINIA vs. (16) MARYLAND-BALTIMORE COUNTY
Virginia Cavaliers. Location: Charlottesville, Va.
Record: 31-2, 17-1. Bid: ACC champion.
Key wins: Swept North Carolina, Clemson and Syracuse. Beat Duke and Rhode Island.
Last appearance: 2017, lost to Florida in the first round.
Coach: Tony Bennett (10-7 in seven appearances).
Overview: Bennett, the former Washington State coach, molded Virginia into a championship-caliber team despite losing its leading scorer and three transfers from last season and starting the season unranked. Similar to his tactics with the Cougars, Bennett has used a slow pace with stifling defense as a way for his team’s success. Virginia has held 34 straight opponents under 70 points. No. 1 nationally allowing only 53.4 points a game.
Leading scorer: G Kyle Guy, 6-2, Soph. (14.1 points a game)
Leading rebounder: F Isaiah Wilkins, 6-7, Sr. (6.3 a game)
Leader in assists: G Ty Jerome, 6-5, Soph. (3.9 a game)
Leader in steals: Jerome (1.5 a game)
Leader in blocked shots: Wilkins (1.5 a game)
Maryland-Baltimore County. Location: Baltimore.
Record: 24-10, 12-4. Bid: America East tournament champion.
Key wins: Beat Vermont in the American East title game (lost at Arizona 103-78 on Nov. 12).
Last appearance: 2008, lost to Georgetown in first round.
Coach: Ryan Odom (first appearance).
Overview: UMBC graduate student guard Jairus Lyles drained a 23-footer from the top of the key with 0.6 seconds left to give the Retrievers a dramatic, come-from-behind 65-62 victory over top-seeded and host Vermont in the America East Championship game last week. Lyles has two 600-point seasons in his his career. Backcourt mate K.J. Maura is ranked No. 15 nationally in assist-to-turnover ratio (2.89).
Leading scorer: G Jairus Lyles, 6-2, Sr. (20.2 points a game)
Leading rebounder: F Akrel Lamar, 6-5, Soph. (6.3 a game)
Leader in assists: G K.J. Maura, 5-8, Sr. (4.8 a game)
Leader in steals: Maura (2.3 a game)
Leader in blocked shots: Lamar (0.7 a game)
(8) CREIGHTON vs. (9) KANSAS STATE
Creighton Bluejays. Location: Omaha, Neb.
Record: 21-11, 10-8. Bid: At-large out of Big East.
Key wins: Beat Villanova, UCLA, Providence, Butler and Seton Hall.
Last appearance: 2017, lost to Rhode Island in the first round.
Coach: Greg McDermott (3-7 in seven appearances).
Overview: Former Kansas State guard Marcus Foster (20.3 points a game) leads the team in scoring and has been named an All-Big East First Team selection each of the past two seasons. Junior guard Khyri Thomas was a second team All-Big East selection and repeated as the conference’s Defensive Player of the Year. He leads the team with 53 steals while also contributing 15.3 points per game. The Bluejays like to push the pace. They average only 15 seconds per possession.
Leading scorer: G Marcus Foster, 6-3, Sr. (20.3 points a game)
Leading rebounder: F Martin Krampelj, 6-9, Soph. (8.1 a game)
Leader in assists: G Davion Mintz, 6-3, Soph. (3.1 a game)
Leader in steals: G Khyri Thomas (1.7 a game)
Leader in blocked shots: C Jacob Epperson (0.9 a game)
Kansas State Wildcats. Location: Manhattan, Kansas.
Record: 22-11, 10-8. Bid: Big 12 at-large.
Key wins: Swept TCU and beat Oklahoma.
Last appearance: 2017, lost to Cincinnati in the first round.
Coach: Bruce Weber (12-11 in 11 appearances).
Overview: Kansas State’s strength is its defense. Barry Brown, a junior guard, dictates his team’s defense with his pressure on the ball and sophomore forward Makol Mawien gives the Wildcats a presence inside. Kansas State has the 18th-most steals (257) in the country. Rebounding is a concern for coach Bruce Weber. Kansas State went from a mid-January loss to Kansas until a Feb. 17 win over Iowa State — a span of 10 games — out-rebounded in every one.
Leading scorer: F Dean Wade, 6-8, Sr. (16.5 points a game)
Leading rebounder: Wade (6.3 a game)
Leader in assists: G Kamau Stokes, 6-0, Jr. (3.5 a game)
Leader in steals: G Barry Brown (1.8 a game)
Leader in blocked shots: Wade (0.8 a game)
SOUTH REGIONAL — BOISE, IDAHO
(12) DAVIDSON vs. (9) KENTUCKY
Davidson Wildcats. Location: Davidson, N.C.
Record: 21-11, 13-5. Bid: Atlantic 10 tournament champion.
Key wins: Beat Rhode Island and St. Bonaventure twice.
Last appearance: 2015, lost to Iowa in the first round.
Coach: Bob McKillop (3-8 in eight appearances).
Overview: McKillop’s regulars shoot at least 35 percent from 3-point range. The Wildcats make 39.1 percent of their shots from beyond the arc. Peyton Aldridge has a scorer’s mentality (21.8 points a game) shooting a phenomenal 39.6 percent from 3-point range. Atlantic 10 rookie of the year Kellan Grady averages 18.1 points a game while shooting 51 percent from the field. Guard Jon Axel Gudmundson averages 5.2 assists per game and shoots 39.6 from 3-point range.
Leading scorer: G Peyton Aldridge, 6-8, Sr. (21.8 points a game)
Leading rebounder: Aldridge (7.8 a game)
Leader in assists: G Jon Axel Gudmundson, 6-4, Soph. (5.2 a game)
Leader in steals: Gudmundson (1.4 a game)
Leader in blocked shots: Aldridge (0.6 a game)
Kentucky Wildcats. Location: Lexington, Ky.
Record: 24-10, 10-8. Bid: SEC tournament champion.
Key wins: Beat West Virginia, Virginia Tech, Tennessee and Arkansas.
Last appearance: 2017, lost to North Carolina in the Final Four.
Coach: John Calipari (51-17 in 18 appearances).
Overview: Kentucky’s strength is its defense, especially guarding the 3-point line, which will be critical against Davidson. The Wildcats held SEC opponents to less than 30 percent shooting from beyond the arc. Calipari’s team plays mostly man-to-man with some zone (20 percent of possessions) and effectively apply the full-court press. Kentucky must win with its defense because its shooting is suspect making only 20.4 percent of its 3-point tries and converting only 68.9 percent from the free throw line.
Leading scorer: F Kevin Knox, 6-9, Fr. (15.5 points a game)
Leading rebounder: F Jarred Vanderbilt, 6-9, Fr. (7.9 a game)
Leader in assists: G Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, 6-6, Fr. (5.1 a game)
Leader in steals: Gilbeous-Alexander (1.6 a game)
Leader in blocked shots: F Wenyen Gabriel, 6-9, Fr. (1.1 a game)
(13) BUFFALO vs. (4) ARIZONA
Buffalo Bulls. Location: Buffalo, N.Y.
Record: 26-8, 15-3. Bid: Mid-American Conference champion.
Key wins: Beating Toledo twice.
Last appearance: 2016, lost to Miami in the first round.
Coach: Nate Oats (0-1 in one appearance).
Overview: The Bulls play at a fast pace, scoring more than 80 points in 25 games, the highest number of 80-plus games this season by a Division I team. They have a quartet of double-figure scorers in CJ Massinburg, Nick Perkins, Jeremy Harris and Wes Clark (a Missouri transfer who emerged as one of the MAC’s top players). Perkins, a bull at 6-8 and 250 pounds, is a solid scorer at 16.6 points a game.
Leading scorer: G CJ Massinburg, 6-3, Jr. (16.9 points a game)
Leading rebounder: Massinburg (7.4 a game)
Leader in assists: G Wes Clark, 6-0, Sr. (5.3 a game)
Leader in steals: Clark (1.3 a game)
Leader in blocked shots: G Jayvon Graves, 6-3, Sr. (0.9 a game)
Arizona Wildcats. Location: Tucson.
Record: 27-7, 14-4. Bid: Pac-12 champion.
Key wins: Beat Texas A&M, ASU (twice), UCLA, USC
Last appearance: 2017, lost to Xavier in Sweet 16.
Coach: Sean Miller (19-10 in 10 appearances).
Overview: Deandre Ayton is the best big man — and player, period — in the country. He has shown to be a dominant scorer and rebounder, and he and fellow 7-footer Dusan Ristic are also passing well to dangerous perimeter players Allonzo Trier, Rawle Alkins and unsung solid performer Parker Jackson-Cartwright. Arizona ranks 269th in 3-point defense but the Wildcats appeared to be much more active in that regard during their Pac-12 tournament title run.
Leading scorer: F Deandre Ayton, 7-1, Fr. (20.3 points a game)
Leading rebounder: Ayton (11.5 a game)
Leader in assists: G Parker Jackson-Cartwright, 5-11, Sr. (4.6 a game)
Leader in steals: Jackson-Cartwright (1.4 a game)
Leader in blocked shots: Ayton (1.9 a game)