Underrated: Nevada. After relying on guard Kirk Snyder to reach last year's Round of 16, the Wolf Pack reinvented itself as a post-heavy outfit behind rangy 6-11 forward Nick Fazekas, a skilled scorer who could give Illinois fits in the second round. Look for the Pack to knock off depleted Texas on Thursday.
Overrated: Alabama. The Tide had a remarkable run to the regional final last year but don't expect lightning to strike twice. Mark Gottfried's crew took advantage of a down SEC this year to post a 24-7 record that looks better than this team really is.
Bracket Buster: Wisconsin-Milwaukee. The full-court-pressing Panthers, seeded 12th, have won 17 of their past 18 games and drew two ripe-to-be-picked foes for week one in Alabama and Boston College (provided the Eagles beat Penn in the first round). Can you say, "Double-digit seed in the Sweet 16?"
Home Cooking: Illinois. Not that there's anything wrong with that. The Illini earned their short bus rides to Indy and Chicago by losing just once this season, and playing in front of the home fans is their reward. Don't think it won't have an impact, either.
Best Player You've Never Heard Of:Ed McCants. The Horizon League player of the year for Wisconsin-Milwaukee dropped 38 on Detroit and 26 on Kansas in Allen Fieldhouse. You think he'll be ready for Alabama? We sure do.
Best Matchup: Illinois-Oklahoma State. Boy, did the Cowboys get shafted by the tournament committee. Not only did they deserve a No. 1 seed ahead of Washington, but they got stuck in the same region as Illinois, the top seed in the tournament. (Whatever happened to the S-curve?) Oklahoma State has the experience (a gazillion seniors) and the talent to beat the Illini in Chicago, but it'll take a performance for the ages. Much like Michigan State-Iowa State in 2000, the two best teams in the tourney might meet in a regional final.
The Pick: Illinois. The tournament committee certainly didn't make it easy for the Stylin' Illini, as Oklahoma and Arizona are solid Final Four candidates as well. But you'd better bring your A-game if you hope to beat a one-loss Illinois team in Indy or Chicago, and we just don't see it happening.