The defending champion UConn Huskies will open their bid to repeat as national champions against the Iowa State Cyclones on Thursday evening in Louisville.
After opening the season in fine form, UConn struggled mightily in January, going 2-5. Iowa State, meanwhile, was steady and solid throughout the season, not dropping more than three games in any single month. While the Cyclones are the No. 8 seed, it's worth noting that No. 9 seeds actually hold an edge in the annual 8/9 matchups.
NO. 8 IOWA STATE
Overall Record: 22-10
Big 12 Record: 12-6
Conference Tournament Outcome: Lost To Texas In Big 12 Semifinals
Points Scored Per Game: 73.2
KenPom Ranking: 30
Standout Player: Royce White
Season In Review: A steady season for the Cyclones was punctuated with marquee wins over Kansas and Baylor.
Tournament Experience: 12-13, 1 Final Four, 13 appearances, 0 National Championships
Factoid: In 2001, the Cyclones earned a No. 2 seed but were stunned by No. 15 Hampton.
NO. 9 UConn
Overall Record: 20-13
Big East Record: 8-10
Conference Tournament Outcome: Lost to Syracuse In Big East quarterfinals.
Points Scored Per Game: 68.8
KenPom Ranking: 35
Standout Player: Jeremy Lamb
Season In Review: The Huskies' season has been a roller coaster on and off the court. After entering 2012 with just one loss, the Huskies have been all over the place since the start of the year. In part, the lack of consistency could be explained by the health problems that kept head coach Jim Calhoun away from the team intermittently during the season.
Tournament Experience: 52-28, 4 Final Fours, 30 appearances, 3 National Championships
Factoid: UConn won its first game and lost its second in the program's first two attempts at defending a national title.