Four months after it began, the college basketball regular season concludes Sunday with the unveiling of the brackets.
The NCAA tournament's 68-team field will be revealed at 3 p.m. (CBS), setting off the usual barrage of questions, criticism and controversy.
Let's take a closer look at what to expect from a local, regional and national perspective.
The nuances of the selection process and three wins over top-50 teams make it difficult to entirely dismiss the Bears' chances of snagging one of the final at-large spots.
But they have good reason to be pessimistic. The so-called eye test is an important piece of the evaluation process, and in addition to losing four of their past five, the Bears haven't looked like a tournament team in a month.
The tournament selection committee assigns monitors for each conference. It's difficult to envision the Pac-12 observers providing a favorable review of the Bears.
Best guess: NIT.
The Cardinal erased any lingering doubt about its at-large qualifications with a resounding Pac-12 quarterfinals victory over Arizona State. The issue now is Stanford's seed, and in that regard higher is not necessarily better.
As a No. 10 seed, Stanford would be bracketed with the No. 2 in the round of 32. But if the Cardinal is a No. 8 or 9, it would advance to face the No. 1 seed.
That could be the difference between heading to Milwaukee to face possible No. 2 seed Michigan, a team Stanford almost beat in December, and traveling to Orlando to face presumptive No. 1 Florida.
The league is expected to send six teams to the Madness: Arizona, UCLA, Arizona State, Colorado, Stanford and Oregon.
But what it possesses in quantity, the conference lacks in quality. Only Arizona is worthy of a top-four seed.
The Bruins should land in the No. 6-7 range, with everyone else on the final at-large tier (No. 9-12).
The West Coast Conference will send at least one team to the tournament: league champion Gonzaga.
Brigham Young is on the at-large bubble, with a strong nonconference schedule that includes a win at Stanford but also a slew of bad losses.
If the Cougars sneak in, the windfall would be significant: Each bid is worth approximately $250,000 this year.
One of the most hotly debated topics in the weeks leading up to Selection Sunday was whether Wichita State deserved a No. 1 seed.
Masterfully coached by Gregg Marshall, the Shockers are 34-0 -- the best start to a season since Nevada-Las Vegas in 1991 -- and they look like a title contender.
At the same time, they play in a weak conference (Missouri Valley) and don't have nearly as many quality wins as teams from the power leagues.
Two of the No. 1 seeds are locked up (Florida and Arizona), while Wichita State is a heavy favorite to claim the third.
Where will the committee turn for the fourth No. 1?
Villanova, Kansas and Michigan are possibilities, and don't count out hard-charging Louisville.
The committee will have to consider the impact of several significant injuries when assigning seeds.
The highest-profile case involves Kansas center Joel Embiid, one of the nation's top big men. He is expected to miss the first weekend because of a back injury but could return for the Sweet 16. Will the committee seed the Jayhawks as if they were at full strength?
Colorado is also a tricky situation. The Buffaloes were 14-3 before star guard Spencer Dinwiddie went down with a season-ending knee injury in mid-January. They are 9-8 without him.
Two important reminders about the process:
1. No team is evaluated in a vacuum; everything is relative.
For every available at-large berth, as well as seeds 1 through 68, the committee will examine how Team W compares with Teams X, Y and Z based on a bevy of data points.
The RPI is an important tool, but there are others, including quality wins and strength of schedule.
2. Conference affiliation is not part of the discussion. A team's record in league play and position in league standings mean nothing.
For more on college sports, see Jon Wilner's College Hotline at blogs.mercurynews.com/collegesports.
Anthony Brown and Stanford are a slam-dunk to receive an at-large bid.