1. No repeat: Kansas is trying to become the third repeat NCAA men's basketball champion in the past 50 years. The last to accomplish that feat was Florida in 2006 and 2007. Before that was Coach K's Duke team in 1991 and 1992. Those teams returned more key players than the Jayhawks.
  2. Injury bug bites: Injuries to Houston's Marcus Sasser (groin) and UCLA's Jaylen Clark (torn Achilles) and Adem Bona (shoulder) led to losses in their respective conference tournament finals. Sasser and Bona could still return but will their teams avoid early exits? Same for Tennessee without Zakai Zeigler (knee).
  3. What's a Paladin?: A Paladin is a legendary knight known for his heroism. Furman's nickname will be famous if it can knock off Virginia in the first round in the No. 4-13 seed game. Why stop there? A Sweet 16 berth is possible for 39-year-old Bob Richey, a former assistant of Colorado State's Niko Medved.
  4. Bluejays take flight: Six consecutive losses early had top-10 Creighton falling out of NCAA contention. But the Bluejays eventually took off behind returning starters Ryan Kalkbrenner, Ryan Nembhard and Arthur Kaluma. South Dakota State transfer Baylor Scheierman will be key to an Elite Eight run.
  5. Big Ten drought: The Boilermakers picked up their first No. 1 seed since 1996, but just like that Gene Keady team, they'll lose in the second round. Zach Edey is a handful, but Memphis' guards will be too much. Indiana makes a valiant effort to the Elite Eight. But the Big Ten title drought extends to 23 years.
  6. Following a legend: No pressure following the GOAT among college basketball coaches. First-year Duke coach Jon Scheyer knows there's no replacing Mike Krzyzewski. Scheyer's impressed, though, winning the ACC conference title. No first-year coach has won it all since Michigan's Steve Fischer in 1989.
  7. Coach Cal's redemption: Tubby Smith had one national title in 10 years at Kentucky before being fired. John Calipari has one title in 13 years, so he'll need to keep rabid fans off his back. How about making his fifth Final Four there and first since 2015? Oscar Tshiebwe is the type of big man to carry the load.
  8. Hurley goes higher: UConn's path since Jim Calhoun's retirement has been up and down. Kevin Ollie won an NCAA title in 2014 but was later fired for recruiting violations. Dan Hurley had two NCAA first-round exits in four years, but Adama Sanogo's inside presence is his ticket to the Final Four.
  9. Texas 5-step: Coach Chris Beard was fired midseason following a domestic abuse arrest — with charges later dismissed — and assistant Rodney Terry has taken over as interim coach. Texas has guards galore, most notably former Gophers star Marcus Carr. But forward Dylan Disu's emergence with Timmy Allen's injury is the biggest factor.
  10. Bama ballin': Alabama is a football school with Nick Saban's giant-like status in Tuscaloosa. But Nate Oats' hoops program is no longer overshadowed on campus. Brandon Miller gives his best Carmelo Anthony impression as a top NBA freshman prospect leading the Tide to cut down the nets for the school's first NCAA basketball national crown.