Duke (10): The Blue Devils are guaranteed to entertain. Freshman guard Jabari Parker is an otherworldly scoring talent, Rodney Hood is a smooth-shooting lottery pick, Andre Dawkins rarely misses from 3, and so on and so forth. The Blue Devils stretch defenses and destroy on the secondary break, and they are a real joy to watch. But the issues that plagued them early in the season -- defense and size, namely -- remain and act as limiting factors in the hunt for Mike Krzyzewski's fifth national title.
Michigan State (9): Now that Michigan State is healthy again, is winning the Big Ten tournament and has players who are hip-bumping without actively grimacing, is it like the season didn't happen? The Spartans spent much of the year battling through various injuries; Keith Appling, Adreian Payne and Brandon Dawson were all hobbled, missed time or both. Sunday's Big Ten title serves as notice: The Spartans are a national title contender, just like we always thought.
Virginia (8): In a year that saw the ACC add Pittsburgh and Syracuse and the best freshman in the country arrive at Duke, Tony Bennett's Virginia team swept the regular-season and conference tournament titles. How? Lockdown pack-line-style defense. Virginia opponents hold the ball longer than all but three teams in the country; the Cavaliers never allow good shots. They are just as methodical on offense, with Malcolm Brogdon and Joe Harris leading the way. We worry that a low-pace, low-scoring game might burn the Cavs earlier than they deserve, but that's the only concern we could come up with.
Iowa State (7): A Big 12 tourney title officially guaranteed a run on the Iowa State-to-the-Final Four bank. At least 50 percent of your buddies in your bracket will have Iowa State in Dallas. The bandwagon is going to get crowded. But you know what? It should be crowded. Fred Hoiberg has at least three players who would be clear MVPs on nearly any other team in the country -- DeAndre Kane, Melvin Ejim and Georges Niang -- and a brilliant supporting cast totally locked into his up-tempo, floor-spacing offensive system. Oh, and he's one of the best coaches in the country. The Cyclones will be a hot Final Four pick for a variety of reasons.
Villanova (6): The surprise of the postseason to date came Thursday in Madison Square Garden. It wasn't just that Villanova lost to Seton Hall. Oh well. No, it was that the Wildcats finally gave up a game late. For four months, with the exception of Syracuse (a double-digit loss) and Creighton (two throw-that-tape-away-immediately clinics), Villanova found a way to win every game it played, many by razor-thin margins. Jay Wright's team always got a stop, always got to the rim, always made the right play at the right time. That's exactly the kind of team you want on your side in the tournament. If anyone knows how to weather an upset, it's the Wildcats.