Best round-of-64 matchup
Michigan vs. Oklahoma State: When Michigan’s plane skidded off a runway during an aborted takeoff, sports was put into perspective. But it shouldn’t mask how well Michigan is playing, winning 10 of its last 12 games. If seniors Derrick Walton Jr. and Zak Irvin can replicate their recent play, they could continue the hot streak. Meanwhile, Oklahoma State is riding a three-game skid, but those were close losses to fellow Midwest Regional teams Kansas and Iowa State. The Cowboys are led by Jawun Evans, who is maybe the best point guard you don’t know, and swingman Jeffrey Carroll. The winner of this matchup could keep playing for a while.
Potential upset
Rhode Island is back in the NCAA tournament for the first time since 1999, but it’s clear from the No. 11 seed that the selection committee didn’t think too much of the Rams. But led by E.C. Matthews and a consistently tough defense, Rhode Island is a decent bet for a first-round upset of Creighton.
The sleeper
It’s hard to call a No. 3 seed a sleeper, but when Oregon went from a potential No. 1 seed to No. 3 in about 24 hours, it was hard to argue. Not so much because of the Ducks’ loss to Arizona in the Pac-12 tourney final, but because of the loss of Chris Boucher to a torn left ACL the night before. But give Dana Altman a week to prepare, and it’s possible Oregon could rebound to make a deep run.
The winner
Kansas regularly gets dinged for early NCAA exits, but this is a team that developed unnatural toughness during the regular season. The Jayhawks have won a ton of nail-biters, and that’s the kind of grit that, fused with obvious talent, could take Kansas a long way.
Kansas was without Josh Jackson during a loss to TCU in a Big 12 tourney quarterfinal, but it showed the peril for a team that goes barely seven deep. Led by senior point guard Frank Mason III, the Jayhawks are capable of getting back to the Final Four for the first time since 2012.

1. Kansas
Nickname: Jayhawks.
Location: Lawrence.
Record: 28-4, 16-2.
Bid: Big 12 at-large.
Coach: Bill Self.
After cruising to their 13th consecutive Big 12 regular-season title, the Jayhawks were upset by TCU in the first round of the conference tournament.

16. N.C. Central
Nickname: Eagles.                       Location: Durham.
Record: 25-8, 13-3.                   Bid: MEAC champ.
Coach: LeVelle Moton.

16. UC Davis
Nickname: Aggies.                        Location: Davis, Calif.
Record: 19-12, 11-5.                      Bid: Big West champ.
Coach: Jim Les.

8. Miami
Nickname: Hurricanes.
Location: Coral Gables, Fla.
Record: 21-11, 10-8.
Bid: ACC at-large.
Coach: Jim Larranaga.
Miami has one of the better guard groups in the tournament with Davon Reed, Ja’Quan Newton and potent freshman Bruce Brown.

9. Michigan State
Nickname: Spartans.
Location: East Lansing.
Record: 19-14, 10-8.
Bid: Big Ten at-large.
Coach: Tom Izzo.
This has not been one of Izzo’s steadiest teams, but it’s intriguing nonetheless — mostly because of freshman Miles Bridges, one of the most dynamic players in college basketball.

5. Iowa State
Nickname: Cyclones.
Location: Ames.
Record: 23-10, 12-6.
Bid: Big 12 champ.
Coach: Steve Prohm.
Led by senior point guard Monte Morris, the Cyclones’ four-guard lineup is a matchup nightmare. With the smaller lineup, Iowa State is routinely outrebounded.

12. Nevada
Nickname: Wolfpack.
Location: Reno.
Record: 28-6, 14-4.
Bid: Mountain West champ.
Coach: Eric Musselman.
Nevada likely had a shot of squeaking into the field of 68 as an at-large, but saved the suspense for other bubble teams by beating Colorado State in the Mountain West tournament title game.

4. Purdue
Nickname: Boilermakers.                                                                                                                                                                                         Location: West Lafayette, Ind.
Record: 25-7, 14-4.
Bid: Big Ten at-large.
Coach: Matt Painter.
Don’t let the fact that the top of the Big Ten isn’t as strong as normal fool you. Purdue — led by double-double machine Caleb Swanigan — is the real deal and will be a hard out for any team with weaknesses in the frontcourt.

13. Vermont
Nickname: Catamounts.
Location: Burlington.
Record: 29-5, 16-0.
Bid: America East champ.
Coach: John Becker.
Vermont, which has won 21 in a row, could play spoiler.  The Catamounts go nine or 10 deep and shoot a shade under 50 percent from the field (49.5).

6. Creighton
Nickname: Bluejays.
Location: Omaha, Neb.
Record: 25-9, 10-8.
Bid: Big East at-large.
Coach: Greg McDermott.
The Bluejays had to reinvent themselves when PG Maurice Watson (12.3 ppg, 8.5 apg) went down with a season-ending knee injury, resulting in a slide down the Big East standings.

11. Rhode Island
Nickname: Rams.
Location: Kingston.
Record: 24-9, 13-5.
Bid: Atlantic 10 champ.
Coach: Dan Hurley.
The Rams found early success with a victory against then-No. 24 Cincinnati, and they played then-No.1 Duke tough the next time out.

3. Oregon
Nickname: Ducks.
Location: Eugene.
Record: 29-5, 16-2.
Bid: Pac-12 at-large.
Coach: Dana Altman.
Finishing at the top of a top-heavy conference certainly puts the Ducks on the short list of teams with the potential to win it all.

14. Iona
Nickname: Gaels
Location: New Rochelle, N.Y.
Record: 22-12, 12-8.
Bid: MAAC champ.
Coach: Tim Cluess.
Cluess constantly puts his program in a position to win, steering the Gaels to their fifth consecutive MAAC title game and securing the automatic bid for a second consecutive year after clipping Siena by a point.

7. Michigan
Nickname: Wolverines.
Location: Ann Arbor.
Record: 24-11, 10-8.
Bid: Big Ten champion.
Coach: John Beilein.
Michigan is off to quite a memorable March already, with a fantastic run in the Big Ten tournament that followed a scary team plane accident — an aborted takeoff — that shook players up and also brought them closer together.

10. Okla. State
Nickname: Cowboys.
Location: Stillwater.
Record: 20-12, 9-9.
Bid: Big 12 at-large.
Coach: Brad Underwood.
After losing its first six Big 12 games, OSU won 10 of its last 14. Sophomore point guard Jawun Evans is the catalyst for a team that scores in bunches (85.6 ppg).

2. Louisville
Nickname: Cardinals.
Location: Louisville, Ky.
Record: 24-8, 12-6.
Bid: ACC at-large.
Coach: Rick Pitino.
Donovan Mitchell is the Cardinals’ most dangerous player, an All-ACC first-teamer who averaged nearly 20 points against league competition.

15. Jacksonville St.
Nickname: Gamecocks.
Location: Jacksonville, Ala.
Record: 20-14, 9-7.
Bid: Ohio Valley champ.
Coach: Ray Harper.
Having already reinvigorated the program, Harper, a former Division II coach of the year who most recently led Western Kentucky to the NCAAs, helped the veteran Gamecocks earn their first NCAA appearance.
— USA Today