Los Angeles Times
PURDUE’S BEST SHOT
[ 1 PURDUE] The Boilermakers have not made a Final Four since 1980. They also have not won a national championship. This will be their best chance yet to break through.
[ 2 MARQUETTE ] Shaka Smart has experienced a renaissance in Milwaukee, where the Golden Eagles are thinking big. Marquette, led by Tyler Kolek, plays brilliant team basketball.
[ 3 KANSAS STATE ] The Wildcats emerged from the bruising Big 12 with legitimate Final Four hopes. Scoring point guard Markquis Nowell can keep them in any game, but Florida transfer Keyontae Johnson’s energy will be the key to advancing.
[ 4 TENNESSEE ] The Volunteers lost four of their last seven games and appear likely to be the latest Rick Barnes-coached team to bow out early in March Madness.
No. 12 seed Oral Roberts is back in the NCAA tournament after taking a year off. The last time the Golden Eagles made it, as a No. 15 seed in 2021, they went to the Sweet 16. This year’s team features the same electric star, guard Max Abmas.
Zach Edey, center, Purdue No player in the country improved more from last year than Purdue’s 7-foot-4 center, who brings a Yao Ming feel to Big Ten arenas. Edey has carried the Boilermakers all season and should be the consensus national player of the year.
Kyle Filipowski, forward, Duke The ACC rookie of the year, Filipowski is the top threat on the Blue Devils, who just put it together to win the ACC tournament. At 7 feet tall, he is the rare talent who can play inside and outside.
Oscar Tshiebwe, center, Kentucky Tshiebwe is a force inside, averaging 16.5 points and 13.1 rebounds. If the Wildcats are going to make up for last year’s firstround upset to Saint Peter’s, he’s going to lead the way.
No. 10 seed USC will get an early introduction to its Big Ten basketball future, facing No. 7 seed Michigan State and the dean of Big Ten coaches, Tom Izzo, in Big Ten city Columbus, Ohio.
Providence star forward Bryce Hopkins transferred from first-round opponent Kentucky, where he couldn’t crack the depth chart. He averages 16.1 points and 8.5 rebounds for the Friars.
Darius Brown II is a Pasadena High alum who plays for Montana State. He is fifth nationally in assist-to-turnover ratio (3.16).