Providence Friars20-12, 10-8 in the Big East

Head coach: Ed Cooley (6th season)

Players to watch: Rodney Bullock (15.7 PPG, 6.4 RPG); Emmitt Holt (12.4 PPG, 5.2 RPG); Kyron Cartwright (11.4 PPG, 6.7 APG) 

Season recap: With a loss against Seton Hall Feb. 9, the Friars looked like they might miss the NCAA tournament for the first time in four years. But after starting the season 14-11 and Big East play 4-8, Providence reeled off six straight wins—including wins against top-25 sides Butler and Creighton—to turn its year around. Despite having the 56th-best RPI in the nation and losing their first game in the Big East tournament, the Friars will play Southern California in the First Four to open up March Madness for the second year in a row.

Providence has a wealth of experience against strong opponents, playing 16 games against teams in the NCAA tournament this year and going 8-8. Although the Friars average fewer rebounds per game than their opponents, they feature four players who score at least 10.0 points per game. Point guard Kyron Cartwright spearheads the offense with his impressive playmaking abilities—the junior earned the Big East's Most Improved Player award this season.

How they make a run: The Friars hold their own on the glass and they tap into their experience from years past to fend off opponents down the stretch.

How they falter: Providence starters get in early foul trouble, forcing the Friars to rely on a bench that is shaky offensively.