2014 NCAA Tournament: Things to know before you fill our your b - ABC 33/40 - Birmingham News, Weather, Sports

2014 NCAA Tournament: Things to know before you fill out your bracket (printable bracket)

Posted: Updated:
Florida. No. 1 overall seed should get some props, especially one that plays defense as the Gators do.(AP Photo/Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Curtis Compton) Florida. No. 1 overall seed should get some props, especially one that plays defense as the Gators do.(AP Photo/Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Curtis Compton)

(AP) -- College basketball fans, start your brackets.

March Madness kicks into high gear this week with the start of the NCAA tournament, the time hoop heads circle the calendar like it's Christmas.

This year's run through the field of 68 should be a blast — an undefeated team in the bracket, a wide-open field and a heavy dose of great players.

So stock up the fridge, work on that fake cough to call in sick and dig the remote from under the couch cushions. It's time to roll.

Click here to get a printable 2014 NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament Bracket.

___

TOP TEAMS

Florida. No. 1 overall seed should get some props, especially one that plays defense as the Gators do.

Wichita State. Final Four last season, unbeaten so far this one. All you need to know.

Arizona. The loss of Brandon Ashley hurt and so did a loss to UCLA in the Pac-12 championship game. Not enough to keep the Wildcats from earning a No. 1 seed.

Virginia. No. 1 in the East Region after sweeping the ACC regular-season and tournament titles.

Louisville. Defending champs are somehow a No. 4. A little secret: They're better than that.

Michigan State. The Spartans aren't highly ranked, but never count out a Tom Izzo team, especially one that won the Big Ten tournament.

___

TOP PLAYERS

Doug McDermott, Creighton. Pretty much everyone's player of the year will be playing in the NCAA tournament for the final time. Expect big things.

Jabari Parker, Duke. He has been not only been the best of this year's heralded freshman class, he's one of the best no matter what year.

Shabazz Napier, UConn. About the only thing the Huskies' do-everything guard doesn't do is drive the team bus. Wouldn't be surprised if he did at some point.

Russ Smith, Louisville. He is still Russdiculous.

Sean Kilpatrick, Cincinnati. Playing on a defense-first team hasn't kept him from scoring 20 points a game.

Nick Johnson, Arizona. The junior whose coach couldn't get a callback from elite summer camps has become one of the best two-way players in the country.

Marcus Smart, Oklahoma State. He may have been suspended for a confrontation with a fan and has been accused of flopping, but the dude can play.

___

TOP OPENING MATCHUPS

Oregon vs. BYU, West Regional, Friday in San Diego. Ducks and Cougars combined to score nearly 200 points in their first meeting this season.

Kansas State vs. Kentucky, Midwest Regional, Friday in St. Louis. The Wildcats from Kentucky are peaking at the right time. The Wildcats from the Little Apple have a score to settle — they're 0-8 all-time against Kentucky.

Gonzaga vs. Oklahoma State, West Regional, Friday in San Diego. The Zags are underrated. The Cowboys have Marcus Smart

Arizona State vs. Texas, Midwest Regional, Thursday in Milwaukee. The Longhorns average more than 15 offensive rebounds per game and the Sun Devils have 7-foot-2 center Jordan Bachynski in the middle.

___

POTENTIAL UPSETS

Harvard over Cincinnati, East Regional. The 12th Crimson pulled off an upset by knocking off New Mexico last season and have pretty much everyone back. This is has been the most popular upset pick of the bracket.

Providence over North Carolina, East Regional. The Friars, the 11th seed, took themselves off the NCAA bubble by winning the Big East, one of the toughest tournaments in the game. The sixth-seeded Tar Heels have been inconsistent most of the year, following big wins with disappointing losses.

Saint Joseph's over UConn, East Regional. The Hawks won nine of their last 11 games and have big man Halil Kanacevic. UConn won 26 games but could be vulnerable.

N.C. State or Xavier over Saint Louis, Midwest Regional. The Billikens limped down the stretch, losing four of five after a 25-2 start.

Iowa or Tennessee over UMass, Midwest Regional. The selection committee raised a few eyebrows by making the Minutemen a No. 6 seed after they lost seven of their final 15 games.

___

NUMBERS

3_Straight years a team with a losing record has made the field of 68. Cal Poly, at 13-19, got in by winning the Big West tournament as the No. 7 seed.

9_Years since a preseason No. 1 didn't get a 1 seed in the NCAA tournament. Kentucky is 8 in the Midwest.

16_Years since UMass had made the NCAA tournament before getting in this season.

18_Teams that have entered the NCAA tournament undefeated. Seven went on to win the title, the last one Indiana in 1976.

26_Straight wins by top overall seed Florida.

34_Years since Virginia had won the ACC tournament before this season. The Cavs also won the regular-season title for the first time since 1981.

133_Games of scoring in double figures by Creighton's Doug McDermott, an NCAA record.

355_Weight of Sim Bhullar, New Mexico State's 7-foot-5 center.

___

THE MISSING

Several teams enter the tournament with key players out or ailing:

Brandon Ashley, Arizona. The versatile sophomore forward went down for the season after injuring his right foot against Cal last month. The Wildcats have adapted, earning a top seed anyway.

Joel Embiid, Kansas. The powerful freshman forward missed the Big 12 tournament with a back injury and could miss the first weekend of the NCAAs.

Mitch McGary, Michigan. Speaking of backs, McGary, the Wolverines' big man, missed the entire Big Ten season because of his.

Spencer Dinwiddie, Colorado. The Buffaloes sneaked into the bracket despite limping to the finish after their leading scorer went down with a torn ACL on Jan. 12.

Kyle Collinsworth, BYU. The Cougars' playmaking guard tore his ACL in the WCC championship game and is out for the NCAAs.

Follow John Marshall on Twitter @jmarshallap

  • UAB SportsMore>>

  • Fans ready for start of football season

    Fans ready for start of football season

    Thursday, August 28 2014 7:45 AM EDT2014-08-28 11:45:46 GMT
    For some people, tonight is just as exciting as Christmas Eve! Thursday kicks off the college football season. Many fans have been counting down the days.More >>
    For some people, tonight is just as exciting as Christmas Eve! Thursday kicks off the college football season. Many fans have been counting down the days.
    More >>
  • UAB names Cody Clements starting quarterback vs Troy

    UAB names Cody Clements starting quarterback vs Troy

    Tuesday, August 26 2014 3:13 PM EDT2014-08-26 19:13:29 GMT
    UAB will open the season with Cody Clements at quarterback. Clements, a junior college transfer from Cerritos College in California, beat out redshirt freshman Jeremiah Briscoe for the starting job.More >>
    UAB will open the season with Cody Clements at quarterback. Clements, a junior college transfer from Cerritos College in California, beat out redshirt freshman Jeremiah Briscoe for the starting job.More >>
  • UAB guard Chad Frazier granted his release from basketball program

    UAB guard Chad Frazier granted his release from basketball program

    Tuesday, July 29 2014 7:12 PM EDT2014-07-29 23:12:02 GMT
    The leading scorer on the UAB basketball team is leaving the program. Guard Chad Frazier was granted his release and will not return."Chad Frazier has been granted his release from our program," head coach Jerod Haase said in a statement. "We appreciate his contributions to our program and wish him the best." Frazier, a first team All-Conference USA selection, was arrested last month and charged with third degree domestic violence. The case was later dismissed.Frazier played one season at UAB...More >>
    The leading scorer on the UAB basketball team is leaving the program. Guard Chad Frazier was granted his release and will not return."Chad Frazier has been granted his release from our program," head coach Jerod Haase said in a statement. "We appreciate his contributions to our program and wish him the best." Frazier, a first team All-Conference USA selection, was arrested last month and charged with third degree domestic violence. The case was later dismissed.Frazier played one season at UAB...More >>
  • All other Local CollegesMore>>

  • Samford coach Pat Sullivan will not travel with team to TCU

    Samford coach Pat Sullivan will not travel with team to TCU

    Wednesday, August 27 2014 2:59 PM EDT2014-08-27 18:59:15 GMT
    Samford football coach Pat Sullivan will miss Saturday's season opener against TCU. The school announced that Sullivan has been advised against traveling by doctors while he recovers from offseason surgery."Unfortunately I will not be able to make the trip with my Samford team this weekend for our game against TCU," Sullivan said in a statement released through the school. "My doctors have advised me not to travel at this time due to a complication from a surgery earlier this year. We have an...More >>
    Samford football coach Pat Sullivan will miss Saturday's season opener against TCU. The school announced that Sullivan has been advised against traveling by doctors while he recovers from offseason surgery."Unfortunately I will not be able to make the trip with my Samford team this weekend for our game against TCU," Sullivan said in a statement released through the school. "My doctors have advised me not to travel at this time due to a complication from a surgery earlier this year. We have an...More >>
  • No. 8 Michigan State readies defense for opener against JSU

    No. 8 Michigan State readies defense for opener against JSU

    Tuesday, August 26 2014 7:54 PM EDT2014-08-26 23:54:33 GMT
    Mark Dantonio cares more about how Michigan State plays than how many plays Jacksonville State can run with its fast-tempo offense in Friday's season opener for both teams.More >>
    Mark Dantonio cares more about how Michigan State plays than how many plays Jacksonville State can run with its fast-tempo offense in Friday's season opener for both teams.
    More >>
  • TCU to play both QBs in opener against Samford

    TCU to play both QBs in opener against Samford

    Tuesday, August 26 2014 7:45 PM EDT2014-08-26 23:45:15 GMT
    Trevone Boykin is in the same position he was last year with TCU, again part of the unanswered question of who will be the starting quarterback only days before the season opener against Samford.More >>
    Trevone Boykin is in the same position he was last year with TCU, again part of the unanswered question of who will be the starting quarterback only days before the season opener against Samford.
    More >>
  • Latest StoriesMore>>

  • Tony Stewart back at the track, looking to heal

    Tony Stewart back at the track, looking to heal

    Friday, August 29 2014 9:02 PM EDT2014-08-30 01:02:41 GMT
    Tony Stewart should be back in his comfort zone at a NASCAR track, ready for racing.More >>
    Tony Stewart took his seat on the podium - unshaven, his eyes glassy - and unfolded a sheet of paper. His voice quivered as he read, pausing to maintain his composure as he described the death of a driver he hit as "one of...More >>
  • City Council to get update on education in Birmingham

    City Council to get update on education in Birmingham

    Friday, August 29 2014 8:55 PM EDT2014-08-30 00:55:45 GMT
    The Birmingham City Council is hosting a lunch meeting with the Birmingham Board of Education to discuss the current state and direction of the Birmingham City Schools. The meeting will be held Tuesday, September 2, 2014 from 12:45 p.m. to 2 p.m. at Regions Bank in the Executive Dining Room."We want to make sure that as a council we are engaged in all aspects of development for our city," Council President Jonathan Austin said. "It is very important that are continually updated on areas such ...More >>
    The Birmingham City Council is hosting a lunch meeting with the Birmingham Board of Education to discuss the current state and direction of the Birmingham City Schools. The meeting will be held Tuesday, September 2, 2014 from 12:45 p.m. to 2 p.m. at Regions Bank in the Executive Dining Room."We want to make sure that as a council we are engaged in all aspects of development for our city," Council President Jonathan Austin said. "It is very important that are continually updated on areas such ...More >>
  • Talladega parents allege school employee wrote racist Facebook posts

    Talladega parents allege school employee wrote racist Facebook posts

    Friday, August 29 2014 7:32 PM EDT2014-08-29 23:32:28 GMT
    Several parents and community members in Talladega are upset Friday over allegations of racial comments made from a school employee's Facebook page.More >>
    Several parents and community members in Talladega are upset Friday over allegations of racial comments made from a school employee's Facebook page.More >>
  • Fairview High School football stadium condemned; Game night plans change

    Fairview High School football stadium condemned; Game night plans change

    Friday, August 29 2014 6:36 PM EDT2014-08-29 22:36:45 GMT
    High school football continues into its second week of the season. Stadiums across Alabama will be filled with "Friday night lights.” But, one local stadium that's supposed to host a game will remain empty. The Fairview High School football stadium was condemned Thursday night.More >>
    High school football continues into its second week of the season. Stadiums across Alabama will be filled with "Friday night lights.” But, one local stadium that's supposed to host a game will remain empty. The Fairview High School football stadium was condemned Thursday night.
    More >>
  • Exclusive: Birmingham beats out Miami for DOT conference

    Exclusive: Birmingham beats out Miami for DOT conference

    Friday, August 29 2014 6:34 PM EDT2014-08-29 22:34:48 GMT
    ABC 33/40 has learned that the City of Birmingham beat out Miami for a DOT conference. A date for the conference has yet to be scheduled but hosting such an event gives the city an opportunity to solicit federal funding for transportation projects throughout the metro. Count on us to pass along any new information as soon as we get it.More >>
    ABC 33/40 has learned that the City of Birmingham beat out Miami for a DOT conference. A date for the conference has yet to be scheduled but hosting such an event gives the city an opportunity to solicit federal funding for transportation projects throughout the metro. Count on us to pass along any new information as soon as we get it.More >>
  • Hackleburg High School preps for first home game in three years

    Friday, August 29 2014 4:57 PM EDT2014-08-29 20:57:25 GMT
    Tonight is a homecoming three years in the making for Hackleburg High School. The team takes the field tonight in their new stadium, finally completed after an E-F five tornado destroyed it on April 27, 2011.It is sure to be a packed house at Ray Stadium as the Hackleburg panthers take on Marion County, tonight at 7:00 p.m. This is going to be an emotional night, not only for the school, but for the community as well. "This is going to be an emotional game, an emotional crowd. This field ho...More >>
    Tonight is a homecoming three years in the making for Hackleburg High School. The team takes the field tonight in their new stadium, finally completed after an E-F five tornado destroyed it on April 27, 2011.It is sure to be a packed house at Ray Stadium as the Hackleburg panthers take on Marion County, tonight at 7:00 p.m. This is going to be an emotional night, not only for the school, but for the community as well. "This is going to be an emotional game, an emotional crowd. This field ho...More >>
  • Caregiver charged with physically abusing nursing home patient in Hoover

    Caregiver charged with physically abusing nursing home patient in Hoover

    Friday, August 29 2014 4:49 PM EDT2014-08-29 20:49:12 GMT
    Taneka Kiera HopkinsTaneka Kiera Hopkins
    Hoover police have charged a former caregiver at South Haven Health and Rehab with physically abusing an 80 year old patient.More >>
    Hoover police have charged a former caregiver at South Haven Health and Rehab with physically abusing an 80 year old patient.More >>
  • Get a deal from state's surplus auction

    Get a deal from state's surplus auction

    Friday, August 29 2014 4:42 PM EDT2014-08-29 20:42:35 GMT
    Do you consider yourself a bargain shopper? Even if you aren't typically searching for great deals, now may be the time to get one through the Alabama surplus property auction. You can look now at some of the options for sale, like vehicles, computers, office furniture and supplies or even ping-pong tables. The auction begins Wednesday morning at 8:00. The Surplus Property Division of the Alabama Department of Economic and Community Affairs is hosting the auction at its warehouse at 4590 Mobi...More >>
    Do you consider yourself a bargain shopper? Even if you aren't typically searching for great deals, now may be the time to get one through the Alabama surplus property auction. You can look now at some of the options for sale, like vehicles, computers, office furniture and supplies or even ping-pong tables. The auction begins Wednesday morning at 8:00. The Surplus Property Division of the Alabama Department of Economic and Community Affairs is hosting the auction at its warehouse at 4590 Mobi...More >>