March Madness regional breakdowns: Teams and players to watch

Indiana forward Trayce Jackson-Davis controls the ball against Iowa on Feb. 28.

(Doug McSchooler/Associated Press)

No. 1 Houston: The Cougars await the return of Marcus Sasser, the leading scorer and coming off an All-American type season. A strain of contractions gets in the way.

No. 2 Texas: The Longhorns, who have gone more than two decades without a Big 12 tournament title, have won two of their last three and played Kansas with surprising ease in this year’s final.

No. 3 Xavier: Sean Miller, in his second coaching stint at Xavier, has led the school back to the championship game. His team reached the Elite Eight in 2008.

No. 4 Indiana: After missing the championship five years in a row (it didn’t happen in 2020), the Hoosiers are back for the second straight season under second-year coach Mike Woodson.

Cinderella’s Quest

Tucker DeVries, a 6-foot-7 guard and son of Drake coach Darian DeVries, averaged 19 points for the Bulldogs this season and has had some big games lately. He is the key to the success of that upset team.

Top players

Trayce Jackson-Davis, forward, Indiana: Jackson-Davis has been among the best players in college basketball this season, averaging 20.5 points and 11 rebounds per game.

Jalen Pickett, guard, Penn State: The All-Big Ten first-teamer is shooting 56.6 percent and averaging 20 points in his last 10 games for the Nittany Lions.

Marcus Sasser, guard, Houston: Sasser, still recovering from a groin injury that kept him out of the conference championship final, is averaging 17.5 points, 3.3 assists, 2.9 rebounds and 1.8 steals this season.

Rim shots

Kennesaw State went 1-28 in 2019-20, which is the fastest program in history to go from a one-win season to the NCAA tournament. Rodney Terry has been very successful as the interim head coach of the Texas Longhorns after Chris Beard was fired in January. As a group, Houston is full of sadness. Coach Kelvin Sampson’s twin sister, Karen, died Friday morning, just hours before the top-seeded Cougars opened the AAC tournament.

– Sam Farmer

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