Virginia's Justin Anderson said his left little finger is feeling better, and expects to be more of a contributor for the second-seeded Cavaliers in the NCAA tournament.
The physical junior guard failed to score in two Atlantic Coast Conference tournament games last week after returning from an eight-game absence because of the broken finger followed by an appendectomy.
Anderson said Thursday he's pain-free and "ready to rock and roll" beginning Friday against 15th-seeded Belmont in Charlotte, N.C.
The Cavaliers (29-3) could certainly use his offensive prowess. Virginia has lost two of its last three, averaging just 62.6 points per game during that span. Anderson was averaging 13.3 points per game before injuring his finger against Louisville on Feb. 7.
Michigan State vs. Georgia. Heading into Friday's NCAA tournament opener against Georgia in Charlotte, the Spartans are right back where they are every year - in the field and aiming to stick around a while. It's one of the staples of coach Tom Izzo's long and successful run with Michigan State, even if he says there is no trick to seemingly always having his team playing its best as the bids go out.
"I don't want to be thought of as a March coach," he said Thursday. "I get paid for all 12 months."
The No. 7 seed in the East Regional, Michigan State (23-11) was 13-7 after a January loss at Nebraska and flirting with missing the NCAAs for the first time since 1997. But they're here for the 18th straight year after a late-season push that included reaching the Big Ten tournament final.
Oklahoma vs. Albany. The Oklahoma Sooners have not forgotten this cruel fact: They haven't won a game on the biggest college basketball stage since 2009.
"It's been in the back of our heads," leading scorer and Big 12 player of the year Buddy Hield said.
The Sooners (22-10) and Friday opponent Albany, in Columbus, Ohio, have each made the tournament three years in a row. Now, they badly want to stick around for a while.
The Great Danes (24-8) won in the first round a year ago, but have yet to win when the stakes and the attention are highest.
Louisville vs. UC Irvine. This tall tale began in Senegal, where all teenager Mamadou Ndiaye had to do was look in the mirror to see the future in his favorite sport of soccer was limited.
That's how things go for most 7-foot-somethings. A move to America, a few leaps of faith, and one lifesaving surgery later, Ndiaye is the biggest story going in the NCAA tournament. Big, as in 7-foot-6 big. The tallest player in the country is leading UC Irvine in its first trip into March Madness.
"This has been my dream, to make it to the Big Dance," Ndiaye said, as he and the 13th-seeded Anteaters (21-12) prepared for Friday's East Regional game against fourth-seeded Louisville (24-8) in Seattle. "But it's not my only dream. I'm hoping for the Sweet 16 next week, and then we'll see where it goes."