- Associated Press - Monday, March 17, 2014

College basketball fans, start your brackets.

March Madness kicks into high gear this week with the start of the NCAA tournament, the time hoop heads circle the calendar like it’s Christmas.

This year’s run through the field of 68 should be a blast - an undefeated team in the bracket, a wide-open field and a heavy dose of great players.

So stock up the fridge, work on that fake cough to call in sick and dig the remote from under the couch cushions. It’s time to roll.


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TOP TEAMS

Florida. No. 1 overall seed should get some props, especially one that plays defense as the Gators do.

Wichita State. Final Four last season, unbeaten so far this one. All you need to know.

Arizona. The loss of Brandon Ashley hurt and so did a loss to UCLA in the Pac-12 championship game. Not enough to keep the Wildcats from earning a No. 1 seed.

Virginia. No. 1 in the East Region after sweeping the ACC regular-season and tournament titles.

Louisville. Defending champs are somehow a No. 4. A little secret: They’re better than that.

Michigan State. The Spartans aren’t highly ranked, but never count out a Tom Izzo team, especially one that won the Big Ten tournament.

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TOP PLAYERS

Doug McDermott, Creighton. Pretty much everyone’s player of the year will be playing in the NCAA tournament for the final time. Expect big things.

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