San Francisco Chronicle - 1. Gonzaga
The headliner: C Kelly Olynyk, WCC Player of the Year.
The story: This may be the Bulldogs' best team ever, with scoring potential at four positions and strength up front. They don't have a true point guard, and depth is a question, but Olynyk, Elias Harris, Kevin Pangos and Gary Bell Jr. provide a well-rounded attack.
2. Ohio State
The headliner: F Deshaun Thomas, outstanding scorer
The story: The Buckeyes rely heavily on Thomas' offense -- perhaps too heavily -- and on Aaron Craft's defense. They played in the tough Big Ten, but did not win many games against ranked foes.
3. New Mexico
The headliner: G Kendall Williams, scored 46 against Colorado State
The story: The Lobos are an excellent defensive team (they held San Diego State to 34 points), and Williams is explosive. But they don't score a lot of points, and their only good win outside the conference was against Connecticut.
4. Kansas State
The headliner: G Rodney McGruder, consistent scorer, rebounder
The story: After getting fired at Illinois a year ago, Brad Weber tied Kansas for the Big 12 regular-season title in his first season with the Wildcats. McGruder is the unquestioned leader for this team, which has played consistently well and has no bad losses.
The headliner: Coach Bo Ryan, Big Ten Coach of the Year
The story: The Badgers have no stars, but rely on grinding down opponents with their precise, patient offense, three-point shooting and physical defense. That's seldom the recipe for a deep tournament run.
The headliner: G Mark Lyons, clutch performer.
The story: Wins over Miami and Florida suggest the Wildcats are capable of great things, especially with the experience they bring to the table. But they were far from dominant in the Pac-12.
7. Notre Dame
The headliner: F Jack Cooley, low-post standout
The story: An excellent passing team that doesn't make many mistakes, Notre Dame is a high-efficiency squad. Cooley is an outstanding rebounder, and Notre Dame is a pretty good shooting team.
The headliner: G Tray Woodall, underrated point guard.
The story: A 28-point road victory over Georgetown opened some eyes. But the Panthers don't score a lot of points and don't have a player who can get them 20 points consistently.
9. Wichita State
The headliner: F Carl Hall, missed a month with injury
The story: The Shockers are an excellent defensive and rebounding team that is a threat with Hall back after he sustained a broken thumb at midseason. G Cleanthony Early is the key for this team, which relies on its depth.
10. Iowa State
The headliner: G Will Clyburn, team's top scorer
The story: Four of the Cyclones' six key players are transfers from junior colleges or other four-year schools. Well over 40 percent of their field-goal attempts are three-pointers, and they can hit them. Five players average double figures in scoring.
The headliner: G Ian Clark, co-Ohio Valley Player of the Year
The story: Nobody wants to play the Bruins in the early rounds because of their ability to score and their excellent three-point shooting. Clark is one of the nation's best shooters. Belmont fared well in its first season in the Ohio Valley Conference.
The headliner: G Marshall Henderson, second-team All-ACC
The story: The Rebels faded after their surprising 17-2 start, but rebounded to win the SEC tournament, beating Florida. Henderson's antics and willingness to shoot from long distance make them entertaining and erratic.
13A. Boise State
The headliner: G/F Anthony Drmic, team's top scorer
The story: Finishing tied for fourth in the Mountain West Conference typically is not a path to the NCAA Tournament. But the Broncos have two capable scorers in Drmic and guard Derrick Marks, and they are one of the best three-point shooting teams in the country.
13B. La Salle
The headliner: G Ramon Galloway, versatile star.
The story: Galloway can score, rebound and pass, and three other Explorer players average in double figures. Good at shooting three-pointers and defending three-pointers, La Salle looks like a threat -- if you can forget that early season loss to Central Connecticut State.
The headliner: G/F Wesley Saunders, Ivy League's top scorer.
The story: The Crimson are not as dangerous as last year's squad, partly because two key players were dismissed for academic cheating. But they beat Cal on the road, and Siyani Chambers is a decent point guard.
The headliner: G Momo Jones, MAAC Player of the Year
The story: The Gaels rank second in the nation in scoring, and Jones, a transfer from Arizona State, and Sean Armand form the country's highest-scoring backcourt. Last year, Iona blew a 25-point lead in a first-round loss to BYU, setting an NCAA Tournament record for the biggest blown lead.
The headliner: G Malcolm Miller, first-team all-SWAC
The story: The
Jaguars started the season 1-5, but finished by winning seven of their last eight games to get their first NCAA berth since 2006. They have just one NCAA Tournament win in their history, but that was a 15-point victory over No. 4 seed Georgia Tech in 1993.
(Distributed by Scripps Howard News Service, shns.com.)