WEST REGION (Anaheim)
1. Gonzaga center Kelly Olynyk. Big, athletic and skilled, he's could become the best NBA player produced by the Zags since John Stockton. Most dominant player west of the Rockies, and it's not even close.
2. Ohio State forward Deshaun Thomas. He tends to get overlooked in a star-studded conference, but Thomas is a gifted combo forward who averages 19.6 points and 6.2 rebounds.
3. Kansas State wing Rodney McGruder. Capable of making plays at the end of the shot clock, when the offense breaks down. In March, no skill is more important.
1. Wisconsin's Bo Ryan. As good a tactician as there is in the tournament, Ryan's teams methodically impose their will on the opponent.
2. Gonzaga's Mark Few. Is this the year he finally reaches the Final Four? Depends on whether the defense is as stingy over the next three weeks as it has been over the past three months.
3. Kansas State's Bruce Weber. Took Illinois to the Final Four in 2005 and reshaped KSU in his image in just one season.
No. 5 Wisconsin vs. No. 2 Ohio State with the Final Four at stake would be a dream for the Big Ten and a nightmare for everyone else considering the teams just played a 50-43 game in the Big 10 tournament final (Ohio State won). For an Anaheim regional, it would be tough to do any better than Gonzaga vs. Arizona in the Elite Eight.
No. 14 Harvard
over No. 3 New Mexico. Yes, the Lobos are good. They're also in danger of looking ahead to a third-round tangle with Arizona. Harvard played a tough non-conference schedule and can rips the nets from 3-point range.
Arizona. The No. 6 seed beat Miami and Florida in December, then meandered through the Pac-12. But when the Wildcats are hitting on all cylinders, they're one of the nation's top 15 or 20 teams.
Last Team Standing
Ohio State. The Buckeyes won 16 out of 21 games in the nation's toughest conference. They beat Indiana and Michigan State (twice). They will grind everyone in the West to a pulp, including Gonzaga.
For more on college sports, see Jon Wilner's College Hotline at blogs.mercurynews.com/collegesports. Contact him at email@example.com or 408-920-5716. ___