No. 3 Iowa State
Coach: Fred Hoiberg, 4th year
Record: 28-7, 11-7 in Big 12, 4th place
Sweet 16 appearances: 4
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How they got here: def. North Carolina Central 93-75, def. North Carolina 85-83
Top player: Senior G DeAndre Kane (17.1 ppg, 6.8 rebounds, 5.8 assists)
They’ll reach Arlington if ... They can overcome the loss of forward Georges Niang, who broke a bone in his right foot in the tournament opener. He’d averaged 20.4 points in the previous five games and was a cornerstone of the Cyclones’ offense, which is fifth nationally with 83.2 points a game. Kane and Big 12 Player of the Year Melvin Ejim will need to help make up for the scoring absence for a team that averaged a tournament-high 89 points in the first two games.
No. 7 Connecticut
Coach: Kevin Ollie, 2nd year
Record: 28-8, 12-6 in AAC, 4th place
Sweet 16 appearances: 17
How they got here: def. Saint Joseph’s 89-81 (OT), def. Villanova 77-65
Top player: Senior G Shabazz Napier (17.8 ppg, 5.9 rebounds, 4.9 assists)
They’ll reach Arlington if ... Their 37th-ranked defense (63.7 points allowed per game) can slow down the Cyclones’ high-scoring attack and force 3-point attempts by getting forwards Amida Brimah and DeAndre Daniels to clog the driving lanes. In six of their eight losses, the Huskies were outrebounded. UConn shot below 40 percent in six of its losses, including two sub-30 percent games.
No. 1 Virginia
Coach: Tony Bennett, 5th year
Record: 30-6, 16-2 in ACC, 1st place
Sweet 16 appearances: 8
How they got here: def. Coastal Carolina, 70-59, def. Memphis 78-60
Top player: Sophomore G Malcolm Brogdon (12.6 ppg, 5.4 rebounds)
They’ll reach Arlington if: … They continue to smother opponents with their nation-leading defense (55.5 points allowed per game). In three of the Cavaliers’ losses, opponents were able to burn them from the 3-point line, including Green Bay, which made seven of 14 3-pointers in its upset win on Dec. 7.
No. 4 Michigan State
Coach: Tom Izzo, 19th year
Record: 28-8, 12-6 in Big Ten, 1st place
Sweet 16 appearances: 18
How they got here: def. Delware 93-78, def. Harvard 80-73
Top player: Senior C Adreian Payne (16.6 ppg, 7.3 rebounds, )
They’ll reach Arlington if ... Junior guard/forward Branden Dawson continues with his hot hand, which includes averaging more than 16 points in the Spartan’s last five games. Michigan State will have to contend with Virginia’s slow, deliberate pace, and needs senior guard Keith Appling to reasert himself since a wrist injury kept him out of three games.