KEVIN DURANT, F, Texas Super freshman (right) ranks fourth nationally in scoring (25.6), fourth in rebounds (11.3) and has scored 30-plus in 10 games.
NICK FAZEKAS, F, Nevada Versatile 6'11" senior is fifth in the nation in rebounding (11.2), first in double doubles (20) and has made 27 threes this season.
ALANDO TUCKER, F, Wisconsin Big Ten player of the year has scored in double figures every game this season (averaging 19.9 points) and turned in the best assist-to-turnover ratio (1.15) of his career.
SEAN SINGLETARY, G, Virginia Explosive shooter can take over a game; he was the third-leading scorer in the ACC and shot 39.6% from beyond the arc.
AARON BROOKS, G, Oregon Pac-10's leader in points (17.6) and minutes played (37.8) shook off mid-February slump to lead the Ducks to the conference tournament championship.
ACIE LAW, G, Texas A&M Lefty sharpshooter makes 44.9% from three-point range and has more than twice as many assists (174) as turnovers (81).
HOOP THOUGHT NO. 1
Acie Law may be Mr. Clutch, but if my team needs a basket with the game on the line and the shot clock winding down, the player I want handling the ball is Tennessee guard CHRIS LOFTON. He's a better pure shooter than Law, and he is an underrated passer.
HOOP THOUGHT NO. 2
Something to keep in mind in this, the YEAR OF THE FRES HMAN: Many times these young guys make huge strides during the regular season only to revert to rookie form once they face the one-and-done crucible of the NCAA tournament.
WOMEN ON TOP >>
CANDACE PARKER, F, Tennessee The SEC POY (near right) leads the Vols in scoring (19.7), rebounding (9.7) and speculation about jumping to the WNBA. (The sophomore says she'll be back in Knoxville in '07--08.)
COURTNEY PARIS, C, Oklahoma The lock of the tournament: Paris will average a double double. The sophomore is averaging 23.6 points (third-best in the nation) and 16.2 rebounds (second-best).
LINDSEY HARDING, G, Duke Two-time conference defensive player of the year plays best when it matters most: She averaged 28.5 points in a pair of wins over defending champion Maryland this season.
CANDICE WIGGINS, G, Stanford Junior leads the Cardinal in scoring (16.9 points) and three-pointers (75), making eight treys against USC in the Pac-10 tournament semis.
KATIE GEARLDS, G-F, Purdue Gritty senior logs 36.5 minutes per game, is the Big Ten's third-leading scorer (18.5 points a game) and makes 89.3% of her free throws.
IVORY LATTA, G, North Carolina The perpetually up-tempo senior playmaker--known as the "female Allen Iverson"--is averaging 16.4 points and led the ACC with 98 three-pointers. --Richard Deitsch
LORENZO MATA, C, UCLA (37.9%)
JOEY DORSEY, F, Memphis (47.5%)
PATRICK EWING JR., F, Georgetown (48.7%)
SASHA KAUN, C, Kansas (51.8%)
BRANDAN WRIGHT, F, UNC (54.5%)
AARON GRAY, C, Pitt (54.8%)
TAJ MCCULLOUGH, F, Winthrop (57.8%)
OUSMANE BARRO, F, Marquette (61.9%)
AL HORFORD, F-C, Florida (63.1%)
MIKE CONLEY JR., G, Ohio State (65.7%)
DON'T FOUL 'EM
DEREK RAIVIO, G, Gonzaga (96.1%)
A.J. GRAVES, G, Butler (95.8%)
TRISTAN BLACKWOOD, G, C. Conn. St. (92.4%)
DASHAUN WOOD, G, Wright State (88.6%)
SEAN SINGLETARY, G, Virginia (88.1%)
DREW NEITZEL, G, Michigan State (88.1%)
TAUREAN GREEN, G, Florida (86.9%)
IVAN RADENOVIC, F, Arizona (86.9%)
NATE FUNK, G, Creighton (86.7%)
NATE CARTER, G, Oklahoma (86.5%)
HOOP THOUGHT NO. 3
Of all the top championship contenders, NORTH CAROLINA is the one most likely to get knocked off in an early round because of its youth (the Tar Heels start three freshmen) and its difficulty scoring in the half-court offense this season.
HEADS UP >>
(Players You Should See)
STEPHEN CURRY, G, Davidson Freshman son of 16-year NBA vet Dell Curry ranks 10th in the nation in scoring (21.2).
CHARRON FISHER, G-F, Niagara Ranked 13th in the nation in scoring (21.0) and was fourth in MAAC in rebounds (8.1).
DAVID PATTEN, F, Weber State Big Sky's MVP was third in league in blocks (1.06) and ninth in points (14.4) despite fracturing his cheekbone in early February.
CALEB GREEN, F, Oral Roberts Creative post scorer (right) averaged 20.8 points and 9.3 rebounds for two-time Mid-Con champs.
ERIC MAYNOR, G, VCU His back-to-back steals in the final minutes of the CAA tourney final pushed the Rams past George Mason.
CALVIN WATSON, G, North Texas Mean Green's career and single-season leader in treys drained six in Sun Belt final win over Arkansas State.
(We'd Like to See)
NORTH CAROLINA VS. TEXAS
(East Regional, Sweet 16) A dream confab of Durant and four more of the nation's most fabulous freshmen.
WINTHROP VS. FLORIDA
(Midwest Regional final) This year's possible George Mason against the team that beat the Patriots in last year's Final Four.
KANSAS VS. UCLA
(West Regional final) A down-to-the-wire dogfight between the two best perimeter defenses in the country.
OHIO STATE VS. GEORGETOWN
(Final Four) Which big man would take center stage--7-foot freshman Greg Oden or 7'2" junior Roy Hibbert?
TEXAS TECH VS. INDIANA
(National championship game) A battle between the General and his former team would be the season's best prime-time drama.
HOOP THOUGHT NO. 4
Don't be tempted to go with DUKE as an upset possibility. This year's Blue Devils are tough defensively, but they finished last in the ACC in scoring, with 70.2 points a game, the worst showing by a Duke team in more than 10 seasons.
HOOP THOUGHT NO. 5
If you want to see how team man-to-man defense should be played, watch SOUTHERN ILLINOIS. The Salukis allow only 56.6 points a game--third best in the nation--and haven't played zone for a single possession all year.
GEORGETOWN: Big East champ fell out of the rankings in January but won 15 of its last 16, including
the Big East tournament title.
LOUISVILLE: Young Cards (who have four freshmen among their top seven) have won 11 out of their
last 13 after starting 12--6.
OHIO STATE: Buckeyes were four points away from taking a 21-game winning streak into the
KANSAS: Jayhawks turned up the D after stumbling early and won 11 straight games en route to a top seed.
SOUTHERN ILLINOIS: Salukis got best seed in school history by winning 13 of 14 before falling in
Valley tournament final to Creighton.
MARQUETTE: Dominic James shot 29.4% from the floor (and 15.9% from three-point range) as Eagles dropped six of last eight.
DUKE: Seven losses in their last 11 games (including four straight) suggests Blue Devils' streak of nine consecutive Sweet 16s will come to a close.
KENTUCKY: Heat got hotter on Tubby Smith as Wildcats lost six of their last nine, including to Mississippi State in the SEC tournament.
BUTLER: Bulldogs were ranked as high as No. 10 in the AP poll in February but finished 4--4 and failed to win the Horizon League tournament.
BOSTON COLLEGE: Eagles were in first place in ACC in early February but conference tournament loss to Miami was fifth in their last seven games.
Get more picks, predictions and insight from Seth Davis following each day of tournament action. ONLY AT SI.COM