5 teams you can’t trust
Arizona State: Coach Bobby Hurley’s Sun Devils struggled down the stretch, losing five of their last six.
Oklahoma: The Sooners made the tournament despite having lost 11 of their last 15 games. A first-round exit against Rhode Island is a real possibility.
Rhode Island: But this is another team that might have peaked early. The Rams wrapped up the Atlantic 10 regular season early, but have been unsteady in recent weeks. They’re 4-4 in their last eight games and lost the conference tournament championship game against Davidson.
Purdue: Boilermakers were all the rage a few weeks ago, but three straight losses in February makes them suspect as a No. 2 seed.
Syracuse: The Orange were blown out in the ACC tournament by North Carolina and had a losing record (8-10) in the league.
5 freshmen to watch
Deandre Ayton, Arizona: A native of the Bahamas, the 7-foot-1 Ayton could be the No. 1 pick in this summer’s NBA draft.
Marvin Bagley III, Duke: The Blue Devils’ one-and-doner had as great a season as any player has had in the ACC – freshman or upperclassman.
Kellan Grady, Davidson: He’s all-Atlantic 10 and the league’s freshman of the season. The only player in Davidson history with a higher scoring average as a freshman? Stephen Curry.
Collin Sexton, Alabama: Talented guard helped Crimson Tide to the semifinals of the SEC tournament – and into NCAA tournament.
Trae Young, Oklahoma: Led the country in scoring and assists, despite Sooners’ slump.
5 upset picks to consider (maybe 2 will happen)
No. 9 N.C. State over No. 8 Seton Hall: The Wolfpack has the more impressive resume, despite flaming out early in the ACC tournament.
No. 10 Providence over No. 7 Texas A&M: The Friars beat Xavier – the No. 1 seed in the West Region – in the semifinals of the Big East tournament.
No. 11 St. Bonaventure over No. 6 Florida: The Bonnies, who will beat UCLA in the First Four on Tuesday, then turn around and knock off the Gators for their 15th victory in 16 games.
No. 12 South Dakota State over No. 5 Ohio State: Jackrabbits forward Mike Daum (23.8 ppg, 10.4 rpg,) is one of the country’s hidden gems.
No. 13 College of Charleston over No. 4 Auburn: The Cougars, winners of the Colonial Athletic Association tournament, have won 14 of 15 games. They keep it going against the Tigers.
5 coaches on the rise
Chris Holtmann, Ohio State: Five years ago, Holtmann was Gardner-Webb’s coach. After a stop at Butler, Holtmann, 46, is in Columbus and has the Buckeyes in the tournament as a No. 5 seed.
Kevin Keatts, N.C. State: Has the Wolfpack in the tournament in his first season, with defining victories against Arizona, North Carolina and Duke. A culture shift is underway in Raleigh under Keatts, 45.
Matt McMahon, Murray State: He played at Appalachian State and was a long-time Mountaineers assistant under Houston Fancher. McMahon, 39, and the Racers have won 14 of 15.
LaVelle Moton, N.C. Central: This is the second consecutive NCAA appearance for the Eagles under Moton, 43. Seems like a matter of time before he lands a job at a higher-profile school than Central.
Ryan Odom, Maryland-Baltimore County: Odom, 43, son of former South Carolina and Wake Forest coach Dave Odom, has the Retrievers in the tournament for the first time since 2008. Odom is also a former Charlotte 49ers assistant who was interim coach when Alan Major took a medical leave. The two the other coaches on Major’s staff are also in the tournament: Orlando Vandross (Virginia director of recruiting/player development) and Desmond Oliver (Tennessee assistant).
5 homegrown players to watch
Torin Dorn, N.C. State: Former Vance High star has established himself in the ACC after starting his career with the Charlotte 49ers.
Luke Maye, North Carolina: Hough High product made all-ACC this season as a double-double machine, averaging 17.2 points, 10.1 rebounds.
Shelton Mitchell, Clemson: Former Cuthbertson High star overcame concussion late in the season, when he missed two games.
Rusty Reigel, Davidson: Charlotte Latin product is Wildcats’ “glue guy,” plays tough defense and is dangerous from beyond the arc.
Grant Williams, Tennessee: Former Providence Day Charger leads the Vols with a 15.3 scoring average, also averages 5.9 rebounds.
5 difference-making shooters
Jaylen Adams, St. Bonaventure: Atlantic 10 co-player of the year makes 45.7 percent of his 3-pointers.
Marcus Foster, Creighton: Brings 42.2 3-point percentage to Charlotte for first-round game against Kansas State.
Sviatoslav Mykhailiuk, Kansas: You might not be able to pronounce his name, but he takes a lot of 3-pointers (234) and makes a lot of them (106).
Landry Shamet, Wichita State: Deadly from beyond the arc, hitting 45.9 percent of his 3s.
Gary Trent Jr., Duke: Has been Blue Devils’ most consistent outside threat, making 41.5 percent of his 3-pointers.
5 things you may not know
▪ Kansas guard Devonte Graham, a Raleigh native and Big 12 player of the year, originally signed with Appalachian State before a strong senior season in high school compelled him to head to Lawrence.
▪ Davidson sophomore reserve guard Cal Freundlich’s mother is Academy Award-winning actor Julianne Moore, who has made it to Belk Arena for a game or two.
▪ There are Bisons (Lipscomb) and Bison (Bucknell) in the tournament. And the Buffalo Bulls, as well.
▪ Florida coach Mike White’s dad Kevin (Duke) and brothers Danny (Central Florida) and Brian (Florida Atlantic) are Division I athletics directors.
▪ Davidson’s Bob McKillop and Tennessee’s Rick Barnes were assistants together at Davidson for one season in 1978-79 under Eddie Biedenbach.
David Scott: @davidscott14