Indiana stands alone as the No. 1 seed. But the Hoosiers have plenty of former NCAA championship company in the East Region.
UNLV, Syracuse, California and Marquette are all former national title winners. So is North Carolina State, in the region as a No. 8 seed on the 30th anniversary of one of the greatest championship game upsets. The Wolfpack won national titles in 1974 with David Thompson, and in 1983 on Lorenzo Charles' dramatic last-second putback of Dereck Whittenburg's wild shot, leading to coach Jim Valvano's ecstatic celebration.
Temple, Colorado, and Illinois have all played in regional finals. Butler played in consecutive championship games in 2010 and 2011.
It's a bracket that's rich in tradition.
Miami (27-6) hopes to bust up the party and prove the new kids on the block know to go deep in March, too. The No. 2 seed Hurricanes are in the tournament for the first time since 2008 and only seventh time in program history. The Hurricanes, who won the ACC regular season and conference tournament titles, will play 15th-seeded Pacific on Friday in Austin, Texas. That's the highest-ever seed for Miami in the NCAA tournament.
The Hurricanes made a strong case for a No. 1 seed. They'll take No. 2 and hope a meeting with the Hoosiers is in the cards.
"We have no control over that," coach Jim Larranaga said. "Wherever they seed us, wherever they send us, whoever we play, we'll get ready just like we do for every game."
The Hurricanes have made it out of the first weekend of the NCAA tournament just once, advancing to the regional semifinals in 2000 under Leonard Hamilton.
Pacific (22-12) captured the Big West title on Saturday night, the fifth conference title in coach Bob Thomason's 25 years on the bench. Thomason is retiring at the end of the season.
Cal, the 1959 national champs, are the No. 12 seed and play fifth-seeded UNLV. They played once already this season, a 76-75 UNLV win on Dec. 9. This time it's practically a home game for the Bears, in San Jose.
"It's a lot of motivation," Cal guard Justin Cobbs said. "That's what guys were talking about upstairs as a team when we saw that was the team that we'd be playing. It's another opportunity to beat a good, talented team. We've played them before. We know what they like to do."
Familiar faces, new places could be a common theme in the East.
The top-seeded Hoosiers (27-6) play either Long Island-Brooklyn or James Madison. A win would send the Hoosiers into a third-round contest against either North Carolina State or Temple. Should the Hoosiers reach the regional semifinal, they could play Marquette. IU coach Tom Crean had Marquette's top job from 1999-2008 and took the program to the 2003 Final Four. Crean said he tried not to think about that potential matchup.
"No, I didn't even look at that," Crean said. "But to see Marquette get a three seed and win that league, I'm very excited for that university."
It's the first time since 1993 that Indiana has earned a No. 1 seed.
"They've done everything we've asked and more," Crean said. "They've been held to a high standard because of the way we started the season," Crean said. "So I told them to watch this like you did as a little kid because they've earned it."
North Carolina State will celebrate the 30th anniversary of its last national championship with its best chance in years to pull off a deep run. The eighth-seeded Wolfpack didn't live up to their No. 6 preseason ranking, but returned the core of team that went to Sweet 16 a year ago and will be a dangerous draw.
They'll play the ninth-seeded Owls, who have just one tournament win since 2006. The Owls boast wins over Syracuse and VCU but were one-and-done in their final Atlantic 10 tournament.
"In my mind, I have to keep pushing my guys," Temple's Scootie Randall said. "We have a chance to compete with anybody in the country."
No. 4 seed Syracuse plays No. 13 seed Montana. With Will Cherry and Kareem Jamar in the backcourt, don't be surprised if the Big Sky champs give Syracuse some trouble.
The Orange, the 2003 national champions, have won a tournament game each of the last four seasons.
"We want to get ready and we want to win, no matter if we're a No. 1 (seed), a four, a five, a six. It doesn't matter," coach Jim Boeheim said. "We feel that when you go out to play, we think we can win the game we're going play, whatever game it is. Without that attitude, you wouldn't beat Pittsburgh and Georgetown in New York. Pressure doesn't matter. We want to win games."
Butler plays 11th-seeded Bucknell in a matchup of formerly-unheralded underdogs who have long proven they can knock off the nation's best. The Bulldogs missed the tournament last season after two straight national runner-up finishes.
"Butler to me is the
gold standard for mid-major programs. So much of what we do, or try to do, is modeled on Butler," Bucknell coach Dave Paulsen said.
Third-seeded Marquette plays 14th-seeded Davidson in matchup that will surely have the eyes of two of the NBA's best watching. Former Marquette star Dwyane Wade led the Golden Eagles to the Final Four with Crean and Davidson reached the Elite Eight in 2008 with Golden State's Stephen Curry.
Illinois earned the No. 7 seed for its game against No. 10 Colorado. The Buffalos are making their first back-to-back NCAA tournament trips in 50 years (1961-62 and 1962-63).