• No. 12 Western Kentucky def. No. 5 Drake: Overlooked middleweight stuns media darling in surprisingly easy result.
• No. 11 Kansas State def. No. 6 USC: B-Easy goes Harold Arceneaux on the Trojans as underseeded 'Cats shut down the Mayo Clinic for good.
• No. 12 Temple def. No. 5 Michigan State: Clash of dynamic backcourts sees North Broad Street buzz-saw avenge '01 Elite Eight loss to Spartans.
• No. 10 St. Mary's def. No. 7 Miami (Fla.): Balanced and versatile Gaels rebound from WCC tourney hiccup by quelling flawed 'Canes.
• No. 11 St. Joe's def. No. 6 Oklahoma: Veteran-heavy Hawks continue late-season surge and postpone Jeff Capel's national coming-out party.
• No. 13 Siena vs. No. 4 Vanderbilt: Beware the trendy upset pick; everyone loves Fran McCaffery's five-out offense to send home the overseeded 'Dores, but youthful Saints are probably a year away from signature NCAA scalp.
• No. 15 Austin Peay vs. No. 2 Texas: Experienced, but undersized, the OVC champs will thrill nation and put fear of God into Rick Barnes until 'Horns escape thanks to rebounding advantage.
• No. 13 Oral Roberts vs. No. 4 Pittsburgh: Summit champs making third straight NCAA trip have brawny frontcourt to match Pitt's bigs, but veteran-laden Panthers will be ready for the challenge.
• No. 14 Boise State vs. No. 3 Louisville: Tyler Tiedeman is unconscious from deep (49.4 percent) and a capable frontcourt belies low-major pedigree, but the Broncs will fall short when Louisville solves BSU's fluid, transition-happy offense following halftime pow wow.
• No. 12 Villanova vs. No. 5 Clemson: Mercurial 'Cats push ACC tourney finalists to limit but Oliver Purnell's veterans school Jay Wright's youngsters during gut-check time.
Dial it up: The five most dangerous long-distance shooters in the field.
• Shan Foster, Vanderbilt: SEC player of year paces all tourney participants with 47.3 percent clip from downtown.
• Kyle McAlarney, Notre Dame: Peripheral half of Mike Brey's inside-out attack connected on 44.8 percent of his three-point attempts this year.
• Stephen Curry, Davidson: Tourney's most prolific three-point shooter poured in 139 trifectas for runaway SoCon champs in '07-08.
• Chris Lofton, Tennessee: Senior sharpshooter has overcome early season slump to make 46.1 percent from beyond arc during month of March.
• Garrison Carr, American: Evergreen State product shattered Patriot League single-season mark for three-pointers (129) while leading Eagles to first NCAA bid in 41 years.
Points of emphasis: The five most important floor generals.
• Ty Lawson, North Carolina: Motor propelling tourney's highest-scoring and fastest-paced team averages 12.4 points on 51.3 percent shooting but hasn't quite regained elite form since suffering high-ankle sprain in February.
• Jason Richards, Davidson: National assists leader averages eight dimes while feeding the Curry scoring machine but chips in 12.6 points nightly to keep defenses honest.
• Jeremy Pargo, Gonzaga: Do-everything point guard won WCC player of year averaging 11.9 points on 49.7 percent shooting along with 6.0 assists and 3.6 boards.
• Tasheed Carr, St. Joe's: As Carr goes, so flows the Joe's; The Iowa State transfer has given Hawks their steadiest presence at the point since that Nelson guy.
• Darren Collison, UCLA: Speedy junior escaped Jordan Farmar's shadow during last year's tourney run and looks to carve out a legacy of his own this time around.
Ice water in their veins: The five guys opposing coaches don't want to see walking to the foul line during crunch time.
• Jack McClinton, Miami (Fla.): Tourney's foul shooting leader missed just 10 freebies in '07-08; his high-pressure makes with two seconds left locked down the Feb. 20 victory over then No. 5 Duke.
• Stephen Curry, Davidson: Long-range whiz can also knock them down consistently from 15 feet, converting 89.8 percent of his chances on the year.
• Austin Daye, Gonzaga: Fab frosh converted 89-of-100 attempts from the charity stripe to pace West Coast Conference.
• Jon Scheyer, Duke: Lithe Illinois native has flourished in closer role since assuming reins from J.J. Redick.
• Darren Collison, UCLA: Foul anybody on the top-seeded Bruins except Collison ... anybody.
• Patrick Ewing Jr., Georgetown: Pat Sr. played in pair of Final Fours before 17-year NBA gig with New York, Seattle and Orlando.
• A.J. Price, Connecticut: Father Tony spirited Penn to surprise Final Four appeareance in 1979.
• Nolan Smith, Duke: Father Derek won 1980 national championship with Louisville.
• Stephen Curry, Davidson: Father Dell played 16 seasons with five NBA teams.
• Kevin Love, UCLA: Father Stan was ninth pick in '71 NBA draft; Uncle Mike was a founding member of The Beach Boys.
Freaks and geeks: The five most atypical hoopsters in the field.
• Jeremiah Dominguez, Portland State: 5-foot-6 transfer won Big Sky MVP honors despite diminutive stature.
• Adam Emmenecker, Drake: Former walk-on and three-year reserve blossomed practically overnight into Missouri Valley player of year ... while pursuing a quadruple-major.
• A.J. Graves, Butler: Wraith-like frame belies devastating scoring punch; underestimate at your own risk.
• Pat Calathes, St. Joe's: Big 5 fans have gotten used to watching the 6-foot-10 former point guard with the beanpole frame run impromptu fast breaks for the Hawks -- but senior remains a curiosity nationwide.
• Hasheem Thabeet, Connecticut: Jim Calhoun's 7-foot-3 center of attention is tourney's tallest player and a closet Scrabble whiz.
• Charles Bronson, Xavier: Sophmore reserve isn't known for beating around the bush.
• Lorenzo Mata-Real, UCLA: Since tacking on mom's surname, SoCal native's handle could double for a Serie A soccer club.
• Semaj Inge, Temple: First name spelled backwards went to twin brother, James.
• Trey Parker, Texas-Arlington: Hails from Terrell, Texas -- not South Park, Colo.
• Nathan Walkup, Texas A&M: Freshman reserve hasn't made an appointment in years.
My fav five players in the field.
• Mark Tyndale, Temple: Vintage Philadelphia point guard exudes John Chaney's lunch-bucket values within Fran Dunphy's more flexible system.
• Matt Bouldin, Gonzaga: Versatile combo guard with the hippie haircut looks to get 'Zags to fifth Sweet 16 since '99.
• Mike Green, Butler: Rough-and-tumble slasher defers to system but remains one of 10 players nationwide to lead team in scoring, rebounding and assists.
• Joey Dorsey, Memphis: Physical marvel and masterclass intimidator can change the course of a contest with his mere presence in the lane; you can actually see opposing guards grow hesitant to drive into the paint as games move forward.
• The Lopez Twins, Stanford: Take your pick between Brook and Robin, two of the most well-rounded and amiable 7-footers you'll find on the college-hoops circuit.
• Retreivers, UMBC: The Chesapeake Bay Retreiver is the state dog of Maryland.
• Toreros, San Diego: Spanish term for bullfighter signifies courage, honor and fidelity.
• Big Red, Cornell: One of three Ivy League programs whose mascot is a color.
• Delta Devils, Mississippi Valley State: Folkloric nod to Mississippi native Robert Johnson, the delta blues musician who sold his soul to the devil at the crossroads in exchange for his otherworldly skill on the guitar.
• Musketeers, Xavier: Jesuit school's actual mascot is inspired by real-life Louis XIV servant Comte d'Artagnan, whose fictionalized life story formed the basis of the famous Dumas novel Les Trois Mousquetaires. How erudite!
The five most conspicuous absentees from the bracket.
• Syracuse: Four-letter tournament's loss has been the NIT's gain for two straight years; just two NCAA victories for the Orange since 'Melo cut down the nets.
• Maryland: Atlantic Coast Conference afterthoughts have missed three of six NCAA tournaments since '02 title run.
• Florida: This year's 11-loss whiff snapped nation's sixth-longest consecutive NCAA appearance streak at nine years.
• Southern Illinois: Preseason pick to win Valley underwhelmed early and often, missing dance for first time since 2001.
• Virginia Tech: The year's most certifiably insane NCAA tourney omission should be grounds for a psychological review.
• If you thought the committee was crazy to stick SEC tournament champion Georgia with a No. 14 seed, here's a little history to back you up. Since the field expanded to 64 teams in 1985, no postseason tourney champ in a power conference had previously received worse than No. 11, with just three schools drawing double-digit seeds: No. 11 Auburn in 1985, No. 11 North Carolina State in 1987 and No. 10 Missouri in 1993.
• There have been 35 "home games" -- contests played within city limits of a school's campus -- in NCAA tournament history. The home teams are 22-13.
• Coppin State entered Tuesday's play-in game with a 16-20 record, making the MEAC tournament champs the first team to enter the NCAA tourney with 20 losses. Seven teams shared the previous record (18). It didn't help, though, as the Eagles lost to Mt. Saint Mary's in the play-in game, 69-60.
• This year marks the first time the tournament's opening weekend conflicts with Easter. And barring any significant move of the tourney on the calendar, this won't reoccur until Mar. 22, 2285.
• The farthest a team has ever traveled for an NCAA tournament victory was Stanford in 1996, when the No. 9 Cardinal flew 2,679 miles to upend No. 8 Bradley in Providence. Schools that have traveled more than 2,500 miles from campus to play a tourney game are 5-11. Cornell makes this year's longest migration with a 2,315-mile flight from Ithaca to Anaheim.
The dream matchups: Wouldn't it be nice?
• Oklahoma vs. Boise State in the second round: Revenge is a dish best served cold ... aged 448 days.
• North Carolina vs. Washington State in the Sweet 16: Tourney's fastest-paced team meets the slowest in ultimate contrast of styles ... a matchup which might sound eerily familiar to Carolina fans.
• Memphis vs. Pittsburgh in the Sweet 16: Wince-worthy foul shooting between two bona fide title contenders will provide hair-pulling drama down to the final reel.
• UCLA vs. Duke in the Elite Eight: Howland takes on Deep Blue in a chess match with a Final Four trip on the line ... a rare meeting between two of this generation's brighest coaching minds.
• Florida vs. Ohio State in the NIT final: Casual hoop fans dismiss the consolation event as the Nobody's Interested Tournament. But wouldn't an Apr. 3 rematch of last year's NCAA title game -- at the world's most famous arena -- make for an intriguing Final Four appetizer two days before the national semis?