BEST TEAM: NEW MEXICO

New Mexico is one of the best defensive teams in the country, ranking among the top 50 in scoring defense and field-goal percentage defense. But the Lobos don't get enough credit for what they can do on offense. Junior guard Kendall Williams, the Lobos' leading scorer, had 46 points against Colorado State, and backcourt mate Tony Snell has had seven games of 21 or more points. New Mexico also gets to the foul line and hits its free throws as four of its five starters shoot 71 percent or better. The Lobos don't always score at a high rate, but Steve Alford's crew rarely gets blown out.

BEST BIG MAN: KELLY OLYNYK, GONZAGA

He has been the biggest key for Gonzaga. The 7-foot junior's scoring (17.5) and rebounding (7.2) has stabilized the Bulldogs' frontcourt all season.

BEST GUARD/PLAYMAKER: LAMONT JONES, IONA

Also known as "MoMo", he has scored 30 or more points six times and had 40 points against Quinnipiac. Jones is good enough to carry Iona and is a great free-throw (88.7) shooter.

advertisement | advertise on newsday

BEST GO-TO GUY: DESHAUN THOMAS, OHIO STATE

He is as good as any player in the country and scored a late basket and free throw in the Buckeyes' win over Michigan State in a Big Ten semifinal. He led OSU with 17 points in a win over Wisconsin in the Big Ten final.

BEST PLAYER YOU'VE NEVER HEARD OF: IAN CLARK, BELMONT

He can score (18.1) with accuracy from the field and the foul line. The senior guard made 54 percent of his FG attempts and is an 84-percent free-throw shooter.

BEST BET TO SPRING AN UPSET: IOWA STATE

The Cyclones can score on anyone and their ability to spread the floor might cause all sorts of problems for Notre Dame.

BEST MATCHUP: ARIZONA VS. BELMONT

Belmont took on VCU and Kansas in its non-conference schedule and it won't be intimidated at all by Arizona.

BEST COACHING MATCHUP: OHIO STATE'S THAD MATTA VS. IONA'S TIM CLUESS

Matta might be one of the most underrated coaches in America. Cluess has won everywhere he has coached and has learned a lot from last season's NCAA Tournament loss to BYU.