No. 1 overall seed Louisville and seven other NCAA Tournament teams will converge on Rupp Arena this week to see who gets to move on to the tourney's second week.
Here are a few tidbits on each of the schools that will compete in Lexington:
Best NBA prospect: Gorgui Dieng (Louisville). The Cardinals big man is the only player coming to town this week who is projected to be a first-round pick by either ESPN's Chad Ford or DraftExpress.com's Jonathan Givony. Both draft analysts have Dieng in the No. 27 spot. One thing's for sure: The 6-foot-11 junior will be playing pro ball somewhere next season. He participated in U of L's Senior Day festivities earlier this month.
Best player you've never heard of: Mike Muscala (Bucknell). The 6-11, 240-pound center averages a double-double (19.0 points and 11.2 rebounds) and is considered a likely pick in this year's NBA Draft. Muscala could cause all kinds of problems for Butler, whose leading rebounder is 6-4 Roosevelt Jones.
Best shooter: Nik Cochran (Davidson). Apologies to Butler marksman Rotnei Clarke, but Cochran leads the nation in free-throw percentage and is eighth in three-point shooting. The Vancouver, British Columbia, native has made 112 of 119 free throws this season (94.1 percent) and is 49-for-101 from behind the arc (48.5 percent).
The one that got away: Alex Oriakhi (Missouri). The Tigers forward was high on John Calipari's wish list when he decided to transfer from UConn following last season. Oriakhi had 16 points and 15 rebounds in last month's loss to the Cats in Rupp Arena. This week, he'll give local fans another look at what could have been.
Kentucky homecoming: Kameron Woods (Butler). The last time Woods played in Rupp Arena was two years ago, when he helped lead Eastern to a 7th Region title and an appearance in the Sweet Sixteen. His Eagles fell to eventual state champion Christian County in that tournament. Not counting Louisville's roster, Woods is the only Kentuckian who will be playing in Rupp this week. The 6-9 sophomore is averaging 4.6 points and 4.8 rebounds per game in his second season at Butler.
Tubby's castoff: Colton Iverson (Colorado State). Iverson played his first three seasons for Tubby Smith at Minnesota, but he never averaged more than 20 minutes a game and left the school after his junior year. "I felt I had a lot more to offer a program," Iverson told the Star Tribune. He was right. The 6-10 Iverson is the Rams' leading scorer (14.7 ppg) and rebounder (9.8 rpg), and he was also the team's only player to earn all-Mountain West first-team honors.
Worst uniforms: Louisville. UK fans might be loath to admit it, but the Cardinals' traditional red and black digs make for a pretty good look. What adidas has done to the Cards the past two years, however, has been downright criminal. Last season it was the neon orange. This time it'll be sleeved shirts and camouflage-patterned shorts. No, thanks.
Famous Flame: Karl Hess (Liberty). The veteran college basketball referee is also the all-time leading scorer in Liberty Flames history (2,373 points from 1977-80). Hess officiated two games that still sting for UK fans — the 2003 Elite Eight loss to Marquette and the second-round loss to UAB in 2004. The Cats were the tournament's No. 1 overall seed in both of those years.
Sweatiest coach: Buzz Williams (Marquette). Somebody better tell the folks over at Rupp to turn up the A/C. The always-active Williams often gets a workout on the sideline, and his shirt is usually drenched well before the halftime buzzer.
Best mascot: Cam the Ram (Colorado State). The school's official mascot is a live Rambouillet sheep and the current "Cam" is the 24th such animal to serve in that capacity since the concept was introduced in 1947. There's also a costumed Cam for indoor events — such as basketball games.
Patricia Cornwell (Davidson). The best-selling crime novelist graduated with a B.A. in English in 1979.
Chris Farley (Marquette). The late comedic actor studied theater and communications, and graduated in 1986.
Howard Fineman (Louisville). The political journalist — and vocal Cardinals fan — earned a law degree from U of L while working for The Courier-Journal.
Sarah Fisher (Butler). The youngest woman to ever compete in the Indianapolis 500 attended the school while pursuing a degree in mechanical engineering.
Jesse Jackson (North Carolina A&T). The civil rights activist and former presidential candidate played quarterback for the Aggies and graduated from the school in 1964.
Brad Pitt (Missouri). The actor dropped out of school two weeks before graduating and two credits shy of earning his degree in journalism.
Samantha Ponder (Liberty). The ESPN sportscaster graduated from Liberty in 2009 and worked as a sideline reporter while a student at the school.
Philip Roth (Bucknell). The Pulitzer Prize-winning novelist honed his skills at the Pennsylvania university, graduating with an English degree in 1954.
Brian Schweitzer (Colorado State). The former Montana governor and possible 2016 presidential contender earned a B.S. in international agronomy in 1978.
Tickets are still available for the games in Rupp Arena on Thursday and Saturday.
Fans can purchase tickets via www.ncaa.com/mbbtickets, or by calling (877) 622-2849. Fans can also call the Rupp Arena box office at (859) 233-3535.
Open practices for each team will be held Wednesday in Rupp Arena and admission is free to the public. The practices begin at noon, and a full schedule will be available Monday.
Ben Roberts: (859) 231-3216. Twitter: @NextCats. Blog: ukrecruiting.bloginky.com