The 2017 NCAA men's college basketball tournament has the potential to be one of the best in history thanks to some fantastic individual star power as well as some great teams.
Here's a look at the NCAA tournament schedule (the full bracket won't be revealed until 6 p.m. ET on Sunday, March 12) as it stands, as well as three storylines to watch this March.
NCAA Tournament Schedule
|Tuesday, March 14 and Wednesday, March 15||First Four||Dayton, Ohio|
|Thursday, March 16 and Saturday, March 18||First/Second||Buffalo, New York|
|Thursday, March 16 and Saturday, March 18||First/Second||Milwaukee|
|Thursday, March 16 and Saturday, March 18||First/Second||Salt Lake City|
|Thursday, March 16 and Saturday, March 18||First/Second||Orlando, Florida|
|Wednesday, March 17 and Friday, March 19||First/Second||Greenville, South Carolina|
|Wednesday, March 17 and Friday, March 19||First/Second||Indianapolis|
|Wednesday, March 17 and Friday, March 19||First/Second||Tulsa, Oklahoma|
|Wednesday, March 17 and Friday, March 19||First/Second||Sacramento, California|
|Thursday, March 23 and Saturday, March 25||Midwest Regional||Kansas City, Missouri|
|Thursday, March 23 and Saturday, March 25||West Regional||San Jose, California|
|Friday, March 24 and Sunday, March 26||South Regional||Memphis, Tennessee|
|Friday, March 24 and Sunday, March 26||East Regional||New York|
|Saturday, April 1 and Sunday, April 3||Final Four||Phoenix|
1. Feel-Good Stories of the Year
The feel-good stories will arrive in waves as the tournament progresses, but we know of two already that have garnered national attention.
First, Purdue sophomore forward Caleb Swanigan, who is averaging 18.6 points and 12.8 rebounds per game, overcame an incredible set of obstacles to be in the position he is today:
Swanigan is the front-runner for Big Ten Player of the Year and could make a case for national player of the year awards as well.
Second, Northwestern will very likely make its first-ever appearance in the NCAA tournament, ending a 68-year drought.
In addition to seeing Northwestern in March Madness for the first time, fans following the team might be taken for a wild ride since the Wildcats have a flair for the dramatic, as evidenced by this incredible Hail Mary pass that gave Northwestern a 67-65 win over Michigan this season:
2. Freshmen Stars
A whopping seven of the 10 players that DraftExpress has mocked to go in the top 10 of the 2017 NBA draft are freshmen who will make appearances in the NCAA tournament: UCLA point guard Lonzo Ball, Kansas forward Josh Jackson, Duke forward Jayson Tatum, Florida State forward Jonathan Isaac, Arizona forward Lauri Markkanen and Kentucky guards De'Aaron Fox and Malik Monk.
Fans will be seeing all those players numerous times in March as well. According to ESPN bracketologist Joe Lunardi's latest projections, UCLA, KU, Duke, FSU, Arizona and UK are projected to be top-four seeds in the tournament, so most of them will likely be playing in the second weekend (and perhaps beyond into the Final Four).
It should be exciting to watch these freshmen and how they react to the bright lights of March Madness.
3. Will Villanova Repeat?
The Wildcats have locked a No. 1 seed up at this point, which means that they'll be playing in the East Regional. It also means that if the Wildcats advance through the first two rounds, then they'll be playing in Madison Square Garden, just a two-hour drive from the Villanova campus.
Villanova already has a strong fanbase and alumni base in New York City, so opposing teams may not exactly feel welcome in the Garden if Nova is playing. It should likely be a home away from home for the Wildcats, which would prove to be a huge boost to returning to the Final Four.
Once there, it's anyone's guess as to who takes the title. The top 10 teams in the Associated Press poll have legitimate chances to be the national champion, with a couple others in the Top 25 also having cases.
However, Villanova has just as good a chance as anybody to win it all this year.