— BEST NEW TEAM: Florida Gulf Coast.
They don't get any newer than the Eagles, who hail from the beachfront school in Fort Myers that came into existence just 16 years ago. Now the school that is barely old enough to drive a car is the first No. 15 in the round of 16.
"I feel like we're getting a lot of America behind us," Sherwood Brown said. "I guess you could say we're a part of America's team at this point."
— BEST VILLAIN: Marshall Henderson, Mississippi.
Strutting and pounding his chest whether the ball swished through the net or clanked off the rim, Ole Miss's irrepressible Henderson puts the "shooting" in shooting guard. His shot selection was something out of the Wild West, but his trash talk was all new school.
"There's no question Marshall Mania affects the psyche of the other team," Ole Miss coach Andy Kennedy said. "How can you avoid it? Marshall this, Marshall that. We live with Marshall Mania. So for us, it's normal, another day at the office."
Henderson was able to down Wisconsin in the round of 64, but La Salle was undaunted.
— BEST CONFERENCE: The Big Ten.
It's been advertised as far and away the best conference in the country all season long, and the big boys have backed up the hype with some exceptional play in the tournament. Four teams — Ohio State, Indiana, Michigan and Michigan State — are in the regional semifinals for the second straight season. Prior to last season, the Big Ten hadn't accomplished that much since 1999. Wisconsin was the only team in the conference to not win a game.
— BEST REDEMPTION: Oregon.
The Ducks felt slighted by the selection committee when they were stuck with a No. 12 seed in the Midwest Region, even after winning the Pac-12 tournament. All they did was bludgeon Oklahoma State and Saint Louis by a combined 30 points to soar into the round of 16, where they will play top-seeded Louisville.
"We just decided as a team we're going to go out there and we don't care who we're going to play," Oregon's Arsalan Kazemi said.