ACC champion, Record: 29-5
Zion Williamson sat out the last six games of the regular season with a knee injury but returned to rampage through the ACC tournament, averaging 27 points and 10 rebounds. He is a big reason the Blue Devils rank sixth in both offensive and defensive efficiency entering the tournament, even if they shoot just 30.2 percent from three-point range, one of the worst marks among teams in the tournament.
Big Ten champion, Record: 28-6
Junior guard Cassius Winston, the Big Ten player of the year, is the only player in the country averaging at least 18 points and seven assists per game while also connecting on at least 40 percent of his three-point attempts this season. He is also one of only 18 Division I players since 1992-93 to reach the 18-7 mark.
SEC at-large, Record: 26-6
The Tigers are back in the NCAA tournament for just the third time since their surprising Final Four run in 2006, though Coach Will Wade seems unlikely to rejoin them because of his alleged role in college basketball’s recruiting scandal. LSU’s main strengths lie on the offensive glass and on defense.
ACC at-large, Record: 24-8
The Hokies are back in the NCAA tournament for the third straight season, the first time in program history they have accomplished such a feat. Now comes the hard part: actually winning a March Madness game for the first time since 2007. Point guard Justin Robinson is expected to return from a foot injury suffered Jan. 30.
SEC at-large, Record: 23-10
Back in the NCAA tournament for the first time in 10 years, the Bulldogs will go as far as whimsically named senior guard Quinndary Weatherspoon takes them. Weatherspoon has scored at least 20 points 31 times in his career, and Mississippi State has won 27 of those games. He is likely to finish his career as the program’s No. 2 career scorer.
Big Ten at-large ,Record: 22-10
The Terrapins’ fortunes seem likely to hinge on turnovers, both theirs and their opponents. Maryland committed 13.2 turnovers per game on offense during the regular season, ranking in Division I’s lower half. On the flip side, the Terrapins forced only 9.5 per game on defense. Only 5-26 Idaho was worse out of 353 Division I teams.
ACC at-large, Record: 20-13
The Cardinals took a nosedive toward the end of a backloaded regular season schedule, losing seven of their last 10 games against the ACC’s elite (plus a surprising defeat at far-from-elite Boston College). But Coach Chris Mack knows a little something about coaching in March: At Xavier, he led the Musketeers to three Sweet 16s and an Elite Eight.
Atlantic 10 at-large, Record: 25-7
The regular season class of the Atlantic 10 in what was a down year for the conference, the Rams make up for a lackluster offense — they shot just 30.6 percent from three-point range during the regular season, one of the worst marks among tournament teams, and have trouble with turnovers — with a defense that ranked fifth nationally in defensive efficiency (allowing just 87.8 points per 100 possessions).
American at-large, Record: 23-8
The Knights are back in the NCAA tournament for the first time since 2005, when they toiled in the Atlantic Sun Conference. Center Tacko Fall ranked second nationally in field goal percentage during the regular season (75.1 percent), which is something that will happen when you’re 7 feet 6 — the tallest player in either the NCAA or NBA — and can dunk without leaving your feet.
Big Ten at-large, Record: 21-13
Since the Golden Gophers’ Final Four run in 1997, they have won exactly one NCAA tournament game (in 2013). They might struggle to get over that hump this year, too, considering their shooting struggles (they ranked in the bottom quartile nationally in both effective field goal percentage and free throw percentage). Minnesota is pretty solid on the boards, though, which alleviates some of those shortcomings.
Ohio Valley at-large, Record: 26-5
The Bruins stormed through conference play only to fall to Murray State in the Ohio Valley tournament final. Still, their résumé was good enough to earn the conference’s first at-large berth since Middle Tennessee in 1987. Senior swingman Dylan Windler had eight games with at least 30 points and 10 rebounds this season.
American at-large, Record: 23-9
It’s the final bout of March Madness for Owls Coach Fran Dunphy, the Philadelphia coaching legend who has led Temple and Penn to a combined 17 NCAA tournament appearances but will retire after this season. Dunphy ranks 44th all-time in coaching victories, but only three of them have come in the NCAA tournament (he has never coached a team past the opening weekend).
Atlantic Sun champion, Record: 28-6
Back in the tournament for the fourth time in program history, the Flames avoided a No. 16 seed for the first time after posting a school-record victory total. Liberty ranked among the nation’s best teams in both free throw percentage (77.1) and two-point field goal percentage (58.5). Leading scorer Scottie James paced that effort by making 71.3 percent of his two-point shots.
Atlantic 10 champions, Record: 23-12
The Billikens finished sixth in their conference during the regular season, but they won four games in four days to claim the Atlantic 10 tournament title and their first NCAA berth since 2013.
Ivy League champion, Record: 22-7
The Bulldogs avenged two regular season losses to Harvard in Sunday’s 97-85 win in the Ivy League tournament championship game. It’s the first NCAA tournament bid for Yale since 2016, when the Bulldogs shocked Baylor in the opening round.
Missouri Valley champion, Record: 20-14
The Braves overcame an 18-point second-half deficit against Northern Iowa — the largest comeback in Missouri Valley title-game history — to secure their first NCAA tournament berth since a Sweet 16 run in 2006. Coach Brian Wardle has taken to wearing bright red loafers this season, a gift from his wife, and Bradley has yet to lose a game when he has worn his Big Dance-appropriate footwear.
NORTH CAROLINA CENTRAL
MEAC champion, Record: 18-15
North Carolina Central has been to the NCAA tournament three times since becoming a Division I school in 2011 but has never won a tournament game. It will play in a play-in game for the third straight season.
NORTH DAKOTA STATE
Summit champion, Record: 18-15
The Bison started 2-7, with a loss to a team called Incarnate Word that would finish with six wins on the season, and ended the regular season on a 1-3 skid. But they took full advantage of favorite South Dakota State’s stunning early exit from the Summit tournament to earn their first March Madness berth in four years.
West Coast at-large, Record: 30-3
Pick a fancy stat, and the Bulldogs were good at it during the regular season: Gonzaga ranked first nationally in offensive efficiency, scoring 127.6 points per 100 possessions, and first in effective field goal percentage, which gives greater weight for made three-pointers. Unsurprisingly, the Bulldogs pillaged their way through conference play, winning by an average of 27 points per game.
Big Ten at-large, Record: 28-6
Only Texas Tech allowed fewer points per 100 possessions during the regular season than the Wolverines’ 87.1, and only the Red Raiders and Virginia allowed fewer points per game than Michigan’s 58.8. So, yes, the Wolverines are known for their defense: They allowed just five teams to score at least 70 points this season, losing four of those games.
Big 12 at-large, Record: 26-6
The Red Raiders allowed just 85.4 points per 100 possessions during the regular season, which approached the best defensive efficiency performance in recent memory (Kentucky’s 84.4 in 2015). Opponents could only muster an effective field goal percentage of 42.8 percent, which also was the best mark in the nation, and shot just 41.3 percent on two-point field goals (third in the nation).
ACC at-large, Record: 27-7
The Seminoles set program records for regular season wins (25) and conference wins (13) and ended the regular season on a 12-1 run. Forward Mfiondu Kabengele — nephew of NBA legend Dikembe Mutombo — is Florida State’s leading scorer (12.9 ppg) and second-leading rebounder (5.7 rpg) even though he has yet to start a game this season and ranks fifth on the Seminoles in minutes played per game (just 21.1).
Big East at-large, Record: 24-9
The Golden Eagles stumbled into the postseason, losing their last four regular season games as they struggled to find a second scoring option after 5-11 guard Markus Howard, who is averaging 25 points per game. Howard has two 50-point games in his career, including a 53-point effort against Creighton on Jan. 9, and twice dropped 45 this season (both against ranked teams).
Mid-American champion, Record: 31-3
CJ Massinburg initially had all of one scholarship offer out of high school in Dallas, from Prairie View. But Buffalo came in with a last-minute opening, and things seemed to have worked out: Massinburg is 95 points away from becoming the program’s all-time leading scorer and is a big reason the Bulls are making their fourth NCAA tournament appearance in five seasons.
Mountain West at-large, Record: 29-4
The Wolf Pack boasts the second-most experience in the nation, per Ken Pomeroy’s calculations, and starts five seniors, none of whom began their college careers at Nevada. Twins Caleb and Cody Martin started out at N.C. State, Jordan Caroline played a season at Southern Illinois, Tre’Shawn Thurman played three seasons at Omaha, and Trey Porter spent time at both George Mason and Old Dominion.
ACC at-large, Record: 20-13
It’s a good thing Jim Boeheim’s zone defense still gives opponents fits, because the Orange’s shooting has not been good: Syracuse has made just 33 percent of its three-point attempts and — in the return of a classic Orange bugaboo — only 68.1 percent of its free throws.
Big 12 at-large, Record: 19-13
The Bears have muddled through without Tristan Clark, their best player, who was lost for the season in January because of a knee injury. At the time, he was leading the nation in field goal shooting at 73.7 percent. With Clark out, Baylor often is forced to go with a particularly small lineup, with no starter taller than 6 feet 7.
SEC at large, Record: 19-15
Gators leading scorer KeVaughn Allen ended the regular season on a dreadful note, failing to reach double figures in four straight games (it was only the second time the senior has done that in his college career) and making just 5 of 31 field goal attempts. Unsurprisingly, Florida lost three of those games.
Pac-12 at-large, Record: 22-10
Expect a lot of foul shots when the Sun Devils play. During the regular season, Arizona State both got to the free throw line and sent its opponents to the free throw line at above-average rates. The Sun Devils got 22.1 percent of their scoring from foul shots while their opponents got 22.4 percent of their scoring from free throws.
Big East at-large, Record: 21-12
The Red Storm beat up on a parade of college basketball’s lesser lights on its way to a 14-1 start but then went 7-11 the rest of the season, wearing down thanks to its limited depth. Only seven Division I teams relied more upon their starters in terms of minutes played, and the St. John’s starting five scored 87.7 percent of the team’s points during the regular season.
Ohio Valley champion, Record: 27-4
The NCAA tournament gives us at least one more chance to see scintillating Racers guard Ja Morant in action before he likely departs for the NBA. (Some draft experts peg him as the No. 2 prospect in the nation behind Duke’s Zion Williamson.) Averaging 24.6 points and a national-best 10 assists per game, Morant’s highlight-reel dunks have become the stuff of legend.
America East champion, Record: 27-6
Vermont is making its seventh trip to the NCAA tournament and looking for its third win. Junior forward Anthony Lamb, the America East player of the year, is averaging 21.4 points and 7.8 rebounds.
Horizon champion, Record: 26-8
The Norse have been a Division I program for all of seven seasons but will be making their second NCAA tournament appearance. Senior forward Drew McDonald nearly averaged a double-double this season and is one of five active Division I players with 2,000 career points and 1,000 career rebounds.
Big Sky champion, Record: 26-8
The Grizzlies have gone without senior forward Jamar Akoh, a key scorer, since early February but maintained balance through the stretch run to win both the Big Sky regular season title and tournament titles.
Northeast champion, Record: 20-13
It’s been quite a year for Knights Coach Greg Herenda. While attending last year’s Final Four, he fell ill and spent 15 days in a San Antonio hospital fighting two blood clots. It took him three months to walk again. Now FDU — one of the nation’s top three-point-shooting teams at 42 percent — is back in the NCAA tournament for the second time in his six-year tenure.
PRAIRIE VIEW A&M
SWAC champion, Record: 22-12
After a season-opening win, the Panthers lost 11 straight games, then won 21 of their next 22. The only team to beat them in that span was SWAC tournament title game opponent Texas Southern, but the Panthers took care of the Tigers on Saturday, 92-86, to reach their first NCAA tournament since 1998.
ACC at-large, Record: 29-3
The Cavaliers’ recent NCAA tournament disappointments get all the attention; becoming the first No. 1 seed in history to lose to a No. 16 seed will do that. But this might be Coach Tony Bennett’s strongest Cavaliers team yet, one that ranked No. 2 nationally in offensive efficiency and No. 3 in defensive efficiency at the end of the regular season.
SEC at-large, Record: 29-5
The Volunteers reached No. 1 for just the second time in program history but stumbled a bit after their 23-1 start, going 4-3 to finish the regular season. Junior forward Grant Williams (19.2 points per game, 7.5 rebounds per game, 56.2 percent field goal percentage) once again is the linchpin, becoming the first SEC player since Arkansas’s Corliss Williamson in 1994 and ’95 to repeat as conference player of the year.
Big Ten at-large, Record: 23-9
The Boilermakers have advanced to the Sweet 16 in four of their previous eight NCAA tournament appearances but have yet to get past it. This year’s hopes rest on the shoulders of guard Carsen Edwards, who averaged 23 points per game but often needed a ton of shots to get there (over one six-game stretch of the regular season he went 10 for 56 from three-point range).
Big 12 at-large, Record: 25-8
The Wildcats fell just one game short of the Final Four last season, losing to Loyola Chicago in the Elite Eight, but are well positioned to match that run thanks to a defense that held opponents to 88.2 points per 100 possessions (sixth nationally) during the regular season. But their inside presence could take a hit without all-Big 12 forward Dean Wade, who missed the conference tournament with a foot injury.
Big Ten at-large, Record: 23-10
As usual, the Badgers aren’t going to outrun anyone: Per Ken Pomeroy’s stats, only 18 Division I teams operated at a slower pace during the regular season and only eight used more of the shot clock on each possession. But with a player like Ethan Happ — who is on the verge of becoming just the second NCAA player to average at least 16 points, 10 rebounds and four assists per game — it doesn’t matter how fast you go.
Big East champion, Record: 25-9
Regression finally hit the Wildcats — winners of two of the past three national titles —near the end of the regular season when they lost five of eight, though they did win the Big East title. Boasting one of the slowest offenses in the nation, Villanova might be a little too reliant on the three-pointer — 42.9 percent of its scoring came from long distance. Only Quinnipiac relied less upon the two-point field goal.
American champion, Record: 28-6
The Bearcats have been an NCAA tournament mainstay under Coach Mick Cronin and are making their ninth straight appearance. But Cincinnati has made it past the tournament’s first weekend in just one of the previous eight. Guard Jarron Cumberland (18.4 ppg) is the lone scoring threat for a defensive-minded Bearcats team that is its usual plodding self on offense.
SEC at-large, Record: 20-12
The Rebels are one of the nation’s best from the free throw line at 78.3 percent. Problem is, they average fewer than 20 foul shots per game, which isn’t ideal. Ole Miss may not have much March Madness experience (this is its third appearance in 17 years), but Coach Kermit Davis does: He has been there five times with Idaho and Middle Tennessee, scoring an upset of second-seeded Michigan State in 2016.
Big 12 at-large, Record: 19-13
The Sooners don’t shoot the ball particularly well, aren’t good at snagging offensive rebounds and don’t get to the free throw line at a good enough clip. But forward Kristian Doolittle was named the Big 12′s most improved player and was the only one to average at least 13 points, seven rebounds and two assists in conference play.
Big Ten at-large, Record: 22-11
The Hawkeyes’ eventful if troubling late-season swoon included Coach Fran McCaffery’s two-game suspension for calling a referee a “cheating m-----f-----” and losses in five of their final six regular season games, three of them by double digits. The final nadir was an overtime loss at Nebraska in a game the Hawkeyes led by nine with 50 seconds remaining in regulation.
West Coast champion, Record: 22-11
Employing one of the nation’s slowest offenses, the Gaels held top-ranked Gonzaga to 43 points below its season scoring average and snapped the Bulldogs’ 31-game conference winning streak in a stunning WCC final upset. Saint Mary’s excels at both shooting three-pointers (37.8 percent) and defending them (31.8 percent).
Pac-12 champion, Record: 23-12
The Ducks lost to Texas Southern in November. At one point after the new year, they were just 13-9 and 4-5 in conference play. But Oregon caught fire late, winning four games in four nights to take the Pac-12 tournament title and earn its first NCAA tournament berth since its run to the Final Four in 2017.
Big West champions, Record: 30-5
The Anteaters routed Cal State Fullerton, 92-64, in the Big West title game to clinch the second NCAA tournament bid in program history. UC Irvine became the first conference school with at least 30 wins since UNLV’s 1991 Final Four team, according to the Associated Press.
Conference USA champion, Record: 26-8
Watch out for the Monarchs, who shocked Syracuse at the Carrier Dome in December. They knocked off Western Kentucky, 62-56, in the Conference USA championship game to reach the NCAA tournament for the first time since 2011.
Patriot champion, Record: 24-10
The Raiders are back in the NCAA tournament for just the third time ever and the first time since 1996. They enter on an 11-game winning streak, the last three double-digit victories in the Patriot League tournament. Led by Northwestern transfer Rapolas Ivanauskas (16.4 points, 7.9 rebounds, 43.4 percent from three-point range), Colgate is among the national leaders in three-point field goal percentage (38.8 percent).
Big South champion, Record: 23-11
The Runnin’ Bulldogs are making their first NCAA tournament appearance, and it’s almost entirely the work of senior forward DJ Laster, who scored 32 points on 14-for-17 shooting in Gardner-Webb’s upset of Radford in the Big South title game. The 6-foot-6 Laster is the tallest starter for the Bulldogs, one of the shortest teams in the nation (ranking 345th out of 353 Division I teams, according to Ken Pomeroy).
ACC at-large, Record: 27-6
The Tar Heels fully embraced Coach Roy Williams’s roll-the-ball-out-there-and-let-them-play ethos — only three teams operated at a faster pace during the regular season. Though freshman guard Coby White has received much of the attention thanks to his scoring output (he had 34 points against Syracuse and 28 against Clemson), three senior starters give UNC experience that other teams lack.
SEC at-large, Record: 27-6
It has been four years since the Wildcats last reached the Final Four, the longest such drought in John Calipari’s tenure in Lexington. As usual with Calipari’s NBA prospect factory, this year’s Kentucky team is quite green, ranking 351st out of 353 Division I teams in experience, and that’s with senior Stanford transfer Reid Travis on the court (though he missed some time late in the season with a right knee injury).
American at-large, Record: 31-3
Only nine points over two losses separated the Cougars from an undefeated regular season as Houston roared back into national relevance for more or less the first time since it reached three straight Final Fours and two straight national title games in the early 1980s. The Cougars’ opponents shot 28.3 percent from three-point range and 43.7 percent from two-point range.
Big 12 at-large, Record: 25-9
The preseason No. 1 Jayhawks are back in the NCAA tournament for the 30th straight season, but it wasn’t business as usual: Kansas didn’t win or share the Big 12 regular season title for the first time since 2003-04. Injuries (to standout center Udoka Azubuike) and absences (guard Lagerald Vick took a leave of absence, forward Silvio De Sousa was ruled ineligible) have taken their toll.
SEC champion, Record: 26-9
Bruce Pearl has the Tigers back into the tournament for the second straight season after a 14-year absence, and defense has been a big part of that: Auburn forced a turnover on 25.2 percent of its opponents’ possessions during the regular season, the top mark in the nation. This counterbalances the Tigers’ troubles rebounding its opponents’ missed shots (33.2 percent).
Big 12 champion, Record: 23-11
The Cyclones stumbled into the Big 12 tournament, losing six of their last eight regular season games and squabbling with each other on the court, both in games and allegedly in practice. But then they rebounded to win their fourth Big 12 tournament title in the past six years, with Virginia transfer Marial Shayok named MVP.
Southern champion, Record: 29-4
The Terriers are not your run-of-the-mill Southern Conference champion: They haven’t lost since Dec. 19, spent the last few weeks of the regular season in the AP top 25 for the first time in program history and have four players who shoot at least 41.4 percent from three-point range.
Mountain West champion, Record: 28-6
An NCAA tournament mainstay in the first decade of this century, the Aggies are back for the first time in eight years and feature the Mountain West player of the year (Sam Merrill), defensive player of the year (Neemias Queta) and coach of the year (Craig Smith). During the regular season, Utah State led the nation in defensive rebounding, pulling down 21.8 percent of its opponents’ missed shots.
Pac-12 at-large, Record: 26-8
Huskies guard Matisse Thybulle isn’t going to light up the part of the scoreboard that most fans notice — he has averaged just 9.3 points per game. But the 6-foot-5 senior also averages 3.4 steals and 2.3 blocks, and if those numbers hold up, he’ll become the first Division I player to average at least three steals and two blocks per game for an entire season.
Big East at-large, Record: 20-13
If not for Marquette scoring machine Markus Howard, Pirates guard Myles Powell would be the talk of the Big East. He ranked second in the league in scoring, second in steals, tied for second in made three-pointers and third in free throw shooting during the regular season. He also averaged five rebounds over Seton Hall’s final 10 regular season games, not bad for someone who is just 6 feet 2.
Big Ten at-large, Record: 19-14
Big man Kaleb Wesson’s importance to the Buckeyes was on full display late in the regular season, when he served a three-game suspension for violating an athletic department policy. Ohio State lost all three games without its 6-foot-9 leading scorer, averaging just 56 points and shooting just 32.6 percent.
NEW MEXICO STATE
WAC champion, Record: 30-4
The Aggies rolled through Grand Canyon, 89-57, on Saturday night to capture the WAC tournament title. New Mexico State has rattled off 19 consecutive wins entering its seventh NCAA tournament appearance in eight seasons.
Colonial champion, Record: 23-10
Last year, the Huskies built a 17-point lead in the CAA final, only to lose to College of Charleston. This year, they built an 18-point lead on Hofstra in the CAA final, only to watch the Pride tie the score in the second half. But this time, Northeastern held on to earn just its second NCAA tournament berth in 28 years, thanks in part to Vasa Pusica’s seven three-pointers.
Sun Belt champion, Record: 24-9
Another year, another chance for Panthers Coach Ron Hunter to create an indelible March Madness image. Known best for falling off his stool during a 2015 tournament upset of Baylor, Hunter has Georgia State back in the tournament for the second straight season, the first time in program history that’s happened. The Panthers are one of the worst rebounding teams in the tournament but boast a 54.4 effective field goal percentage.
Southland champion, Record: 27-6
The Wildcats have overcome the midseason loss of junior center Jalone Friday because of a disciplinary matter to reach the first NCAA tournament in program history.
Metro Atlantic champion, Record: 17-15
The Gaels were 7-15 in early February but rebounded to win their fourth straight MAAC title, becoming the first men’s team in conference history to do that. Iona has allowed its opponents to shoot nearly 37 percent from three-point range, one of the worst marks in the tournament, but held Monmouth to 5-for-24 shooting from long distance in the conference title game.