Auburn faces Charleston on Friday in return to NCAA Tournament

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   Let the ‘Madness’ begin        Now that all the teams have been selected March Madness can officially begin

Last March, the statistical sages of The Washington Post told you that a wide-open NCAA tournament featured no fewer than 26 men's college basketball teams capable of cutting down the nets as national champions - and of those 26, there were three clear favorites.

Despite all that, Auburn went 25-7 overall, 13-5 in SEC play and won a share of the conference's regular season title. Led by Big South coach of the year, Mike Jones, Radford went 22-12 this year and 12-6 in conference. The Aggies started hot but cooled in January as they battled injuries before winning seven of 10 games to finish the regular season.

For the second straight year, the A.C.C. placed nine teams in the tournament.

There's also Cincinnati, a potential Elite Eight matchup. That's not necessarily an indictment of Bennett or Virginia, either.

We filled out an NCAA Tournament bracket under the presumption that the teams were playing football instead of basketball.

The Cavaliers (31-2) were crowned ACC tournament champions Saturday night after defeating the North Carolina Tar Heels, 71-63. Marquette head coach Steve Wojciechowski will face off against a fellow former Duke assistant: Harvard head coach Tommy Amaker.

Even the fourth-year coach probably didn't expect Auburn would end its NCAA Tournament drought the way it did, though. Their top three scorers, Trevon Bluiett, J.P. Macura and Kerem Kanter, are all seniors.

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Big things will be expected of Bluiett.

Kansas freshman Silvio De Sousa, who joined the team at midseason, had 16 points on 8-for-8 shooting and 10 rebounds in the Big 12 title game against West Virginia.

A Final Four appearance would be the flawless way to cap off what has been an excellent college career.

In the semifinal game against top-seeded Xavier, the Friars trailed by as much as 17 points before rallying to edge the Musketeers in overtime and advance to the championship game. Again, there hasn't been one team that's really separated itself from the pack, and another wide-open tournament awaits.

While both those games were highly competitive, the couldn't compare to the drama in the final where the decibel levels in the Palestra were classically high. His field-goal percentage then slipped to 42.5 percent in January, 40.4 percent in February and 37.8 percent in March. Kyron Cartwright (11.8 points, 5.7 assists) almost led the Friars to Big East tournament championship, having proved themselves with two victories over Xavier and another over Villanova.

The Missouri Tigers could be a major wild card this season as well.

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