•Princeton. The Tigers will try to postpone the final game of that engineer of postseason thrills, coach Pete Carril, who'll step down after the tournament (page 100). The last time Carril and Old Nassau faced UCLA was '69, when it took a Sidney Wicks jumper at the buzzer to beat them.
•Central Florida. At 11-18 the Golden Knights need all the support they can get. Given their first-round date with UMass, they might take a hint from the name of their conference—Trans America—and take out some extra insurance.
And don't be distressed if some matchups are blowouts. That might give a Valparaiso bench sitter named Kareem Abdul-Jabbar Jr. a chance to score in the NCAAs, just as his old man did. And Indiana might get to put Kevin Lemme, a former team manager, in the lineup during a rout. UConn, too, has a heartwarming, bench-warming story. The Huskies' Justin Srb lost both his parents a year ago: his father, Richard, to a neurological disorder, and his mother, Susanna, in an unsolved murder. The university gave the walk-on a scholarship this year, and Srb has persevered.
Sentiment aside, our favorites are Georgetown in the East because its depth trumps UMass's; Kansas in the West because Purdue never had to deal with so much inside strength this season in a downsized Big Ten; UConn in the Southeast because of its three sublime guards, Ray Allen, Doron Sheffer and Ricky Moore; and in the Midwest, Kentucky (left), which has been anointed the favorite, and deserves to be.
"We're a terrific basketball team with outstanding talent," says Wildcats coach Rick Pitino. "But let's not get carried away." For our part, thank you, we'll get carried away.