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Kansas packs the most punch

Kansas Jayhawks' Wayne Selden, Jr. celebrates with teammate

Kansas Jayhawks' Wayne Selden, Jr. celebrates with teammate Andrew Wiggins after defeating the Oklahoma State Cowboys 77-70 to win the Big 12 Basketball Tournament quarterfinal game at Sprint Center on March 13, 2014. Credit: Getty Images / Jamie Squire

Best team, Kansas

With all due respect to top-seeded Florida and its many seniors and its fine point guard and its SEC championship and its Long Island-raised, two-time NCAA champion coach, as long as Kansas survives and advances long enough to get injured Joel Embiid back into the lineup. it packs the most talented punch, surely enough to shut down the Gators.

Plus the Jayhawks had to endure the seasonlong test that was the Big 12 of 2013-14.

Florida? It was the best basketball team in a great football conference.

 

Best big man, Patric Young (Florida)

Unless and until Kansas' Embiid returns, this honor has to go to the chiseled 6-9, 240-pound Florida senior whom SI.com named captain of its "All-Glue'' team for his grit and not-necessarily-on-the-stat-sheet contributions.

Young was projected to be more than that when he first arrived in college, but he has transformed himself into a valued workingman and all-around helper for the well-oiled No. 1 overall seed.

 

Best guard/playmaker, Scottie Wilbekin (Florida)

Wilbekin missed the first five games because of an offseason suspension, then bounced back to win SEC Player of the Year and serve as the playmaking ballast on an experienced Florida team.

He averaged 13 points and 3.7 assists for the Gators and also made the conference's all-defensive first team.

Did we mention experienced playmakers traditionally are a must for NCAA Tournament success?

 

Best go-to guy, Andrew Wiggins (Kansas)

The freshman is now one loss away from the NBA -- or six victories, whichever comes first. On the way out, he can and should put on a show for the casual fans who only watch the college game in March and early April.

The 6-8 forward from north of the border averaged 17.4 points -- 41 in one game against West Virginia -- and 6.0 rebounds. With Embiid's status in doubt, Wiggins might have to carry the Jayhawks into the Sweet 16.

 

Best player you've never heard of, David Brown (Western Michigan)

The Broncos' senior guard led the MAC in scoring with 19.4 points per game and is just the sort of experienced backcourt man upset-minded teams need. Hear that, Jim Boeheim?

 

Best bet to spring an upset, Stephen F. Austin

VCU, a giant-killer of the past, finds itself with a dreaded No. 5 seed facing a tough No. 12 seed in SFA, which hasn't lost since before Thanksgiving and plays the type of frantic, pressure defense that often tends to make things go screwy in early-round games.

 

Best matchup, Ohio State vs. Dayton

Good to see the NCAA selection committee has a sense of drama -- and humor. Dayton is the kind of school that rarely is granted regular-season audiences against an intrastate monolith such as the Buckeyes.

The last time Dayton -- now coached by former Ohio State assistant Archie Miller -- drew the Buckeyes was in the 2008 NIT.

 

Best coaching matchup, Steve Alford (UCLA) vs. Danny Manning (Tulsa)

The stars of the 1987 and '88 national championship teams -- at Indiana and Kansas, respectively -- are meeting as head coaches in the NCAA Tournament of 2014? Too cool.

Meanwhile Larry Brown, who coached Manning to that '88 championship, saw his SMU team get snubbed by the NCAA selection committee.

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