The orneriest of drill sergeants couldn't concoct an obstacle course this menacing.
College basketball's leading scorer, two former No. 1 teams and the nation's best-shooting squad. Not to mention the season's most notorious band of thieves.
Those are among the hurdles confronting the six ACC and two state teams in the NCAA tournament.
No state squad has made a regional semifinal since George Mason's 2006 Final Four run; the ACC hasn't sent more than two teams to the Sweet 16 since 2005.
Don't look for those trends to change as the tournament commences this week.
A No. 1 regional seed for the ninth time in 13 years, ACC champion Duke has the clearest path to the third round. The Blue Devils play either Arkansas-Pine Bluff or Winthrop in the first round, either California or Louisville in the second.
Cal won the regular season in the dreadful Pacific 10, and Louisville is an uninspiring 3-7 against the top 50 teams on the Rating Percentage Index.
Each of Duke's conference rivals, plus Old Dominion and Richmond, faces more formidable odds.
Maryland, which shared the regular-season title with Duke, drew Houston in the first round. Conference USA's seventh-place team, the Cougars had zero NCAA hopes before winning the league tournament.
Stranger yet, Houston guard Aubrey Coleman shot 4-for-20 in the final against top-seeded Texas-El Paso. Coleman leads the NCAA at 25.6 points per game.
If Maryland advances, it's likely to meet Michigan State, which tied for first in the Big Ten with Purdue and Ohio State.
Led by All-American Evan Turner, Ohio State would be Georgia Tech's probable second-round opponent, if the Yellow Jackets survive Oklahoma State, the only Big 12 team to beat No. 1 Kansas.
Wake Forest, 1-5 in its last six, encounters unranked but former No. 1 Texas. Only the most devoted Deacon should pick Wake, and on the off chance Dino Gaudio's dysfunctional bunch wins, Kentucky, top-ranked for a week in late January, beckons in the second round.
Florida State hasn't won an NCAA tournament game since 1998, but if the Seminoles can survive Gonzaga, they'll probably meet top-seeded Syracuse in the second round. The Orange lead Division I in field-goal percentage at 51.6; FSU leads in field-goal percentage defense at 37.4.
That's what we call "irresistible force meets immovable object."
For the most entertaining first-round fare, shuffle off to Buffalo for the Clemson-Missouri clash of Tigers. Both pride themselves on full-court pressure, and Mizzou averages a national-high 10.9 steals. Clemson coach Oliver Purnell is 0-5 in the NCAA tournament, and if he finally breaks through, his reward figures to be a round-two matchup with Big East tourney champion West Virginia.
Colonial tournament champion Old Dominion draws a marquee star in round one in Notre Dame forward Luke Harangody. Should the Monarchs advance for the first time in 15 years, their likely opponent is Baylor and obscure star LaceDarius Dunn, the Big 12's No. 2 scorer and leading 3-point and free-throw shooter.
Atlantic 10 tournament finalist Richmond is underseeded as a 7 and plays West Coast Conference champion St. Mary's. Gaels center Omar Samhan and Radford's Art Parakhouski are the only players this season averaging more than 20 points and 10 rebounds.
If Richmond, led by guard Kevin Anderson, advances for the first time since in 12 years, 2009 Final Four semifinalist Villanova probably awaits. But the Wildcats have lost five of their last seven games.
Confused? Join the club, jump in the pool anyway and remember three words.
Rock Chalk, Jayhawk.
David Teel can be reached at 247-4636 or by e-mail at email@example.com. For more from Teel, read his blog at dailypress.com/teeltimeCopyright © 2015, The Baltimore Sun