First and foremost, there’s the best team in the NCAA Tournament, coached by an unflappable man dressed in a suit that costs as much as a few of your mortgage payments.
There’s a team from the Midwest, where the heart of the sport beats loudest, a place where great players grow up practicing jump shots on a hoop attached to a barn or playing pickup games in the city.
There’s a team with a coach who prefers living in Lubbock, Texas, instead of Las Vegas and has somehow produced a winning team at a school with fans who couldn’t care less. Probably the most exciting news for Bostonians is that Wes Welker said on Twitter that he might come to watch the team play.
Then there’s an often overlooked squad that’s coached by a disheveled, unpretentious man who dresses as if he’s just hanging out at his house on a weekend.
In order, Villanova, Purdue, Texas Tech, and West Virginia will be in Boston for the NCAA Tournament East Region this Friday and Sunday at a sold-out TD Garden.
The first matchups are Villanova-West Virginia and Purdue-Texas Tech, and this has promise to be three great games, with the survivor advancing to the Final Four in San Antonio.
Jay Wright will be the guy in the Armani suit in front of the Villanova bench, and he’s in charge of a team that has glided into the Sweet 16 with two easy victories over Radford and Alabama.
The Wildcats are talented, deep, and have had a sensational season (32-4) led by two All-America-caliber players in point guard Jalen Brunson and forward Mikal Bridges.
The Wildcats lead the nation in scoring at 86.9 points per game and have six players who average double figures. You usually see that only in the NBA.
Basketball is still the most important sport in Indiana, especially in West Lafayette where Purdue is located, but gone are the days when the Boilermakers’ roster was filled by sharp-eyed shooters from rural areas like the legendary Rick Mount.
There are only four players from Indiana on Purdue’s roster, which includes a player from Texas (Carsen Edwards) and even Cambridge (Jacquil Taylor).
The Boilermakers will be missing an important player, center Isaac Haas, who fractured an elbow in the first round, but there are still quality players starting with Carsen Edwards, a slick point guard, and smooth forward Vin Edwards.
Texas Tech coach Chris Beard was the coach at Nevada Las Vegas for about two hours (OK, it was three weeks). When a sequence of events left Tech with an opening, Beard deserted the desert for West Texas. Ah, the tumbling tumbleweed. The Red Raiders are known for football, and even Basketball Hall of Famer Bobby Knight couldn’t bring the school any sustained success. The fans routinely don’t show up for games.
That hasn’t deterred Beard. He took the players left over from coach Tubby Smith, did some under-the-radar recruiting, and turned the Raiders into a Big 12 contender.
The Raiders’ best player is senior guard Keenan Evans but the most interesting player is high-flying freshman guard Zhaire Smith, who had a spectacular 180-degree dunk in the first-round game.
West Virginia coach Bob Huggins will be manically pacing the sidelines in his signature black pullover that sort of makes him look like a resident of the Del Boca Vista retirement community in “Seinfeld.’’
His team plays with a relentless defensive style, pressing full-court, hunting for steals or forcing opponents into bad plays. The leading pest is muscular guard Jevon Carter, who looks like he could be somebody’s bodyguard, and he’s backed up by one of the best shot blockers in the country, Sagaba Konate.
The key issues will be how the Villanova offensive machine will handle West Virginia’s smothering defense, and whether Texas Tech is deep enough to overcome the talent on Purdue’s roster.