Selecting the top 15 players from an amazing weekend in the NCAA tournament was not easy.
Selecting a Scout.com All-Regional team wasn't difficult.
But narrowing it to 15 players was. And that's while limiting the candidates to just those on teams that reached the Saturday and Sunday finals in the Albuquerque, Chicago, Syracuse and Austin regions.
So here we go, with the selections listed alphabetically other than the top two choices:
Deron Williams (Illinois). During his team's victories over Wisconsin-Milwaukee and Arizona, he provided ample evidence to those who'd care to argue that he, and not Chris Paul (Wake Forest) or Raymond Felton (North Carolina), is the most complete point guard on the college level. His play in that final frantic four minutes of regulation against the Wildcats Saturday night elevated him ever-so-slightly over the following candidate for overall Most Outstanding Player.
Sean May (North Carolina). The guy was a freakin' monster (19 of 28 from the field and 22 rebounds while scoring 43 points in 62 minutes against Villanova and Wisconsin). Let's see what Paul Davis & Co. of Michigan State can do against him Saturday night in St. Louis.
Maurice Ager (Michigan State). He could have easily been chosen the Austin region's Most Outstanding Player. He and region MOP Shannon Brown may give the Spartans the best wings in the country next season.
Dee Brown (Illinois). For all of his dazzling steals and deep threes this season, his offensive rebound and put-back in traffic in the rally Saturday night was as critical a play as he's made.
Shannon Brown (Michigan State). How deep and sweet were those jump shots of his against Kentucky? As if the Wildcats needed to be reminded . . .
Paul Davis (Michigan State). The pump fake – "And one!" – that baited Shelden Williams into his fifth foul was the most critical moment in the victory over Duke Friday night.
Channing Frye (Arizona). Those outside of Pac-10 Conference territory who caught the Wildcats against Oklahoma State and Illinois should now be clued in as to why he's the best NBA prospect among college seniors.
Taquan Dean (Louisville). He's going to be more than ample competition for J.J. Redick (Duke) in any "Who is the best pure shooter in the country?" debates next season.
Raymond Felton (North Carolina). His ability to knock free throws in down the stretch, and create transition opportunities when they seemingly weren't there Sunday, helped the Tar Heels stay just in front of the Badgers thru the final buzzer.
Chuck Hayes (Kentucky). It almost appeared at times that his sheer will was going to push the Wildcats into the Final Four. He's a classy player and, by unanimous declaration, an even classier fellow.
Luther Head (Illinois). Even my hamstring felt pained while watching him toil despite his injury Thursday and Saturday nights. But, talk about coming through: His block of Salim Stoudamire's jumper near the end of regulation could go down as the 2004-5 Defensive Play of the Season.
Larry O'Bannon (Louisville). Has there been a more nationally underrated wing in the country this season? Having an O'Bannon in the lineup (in fact, two of them, Ed and Charles; no relation to Larry) served UCLA well on its national title run 10 years ago.
Kevin Pittsnogle (West Virginia). OK, at what point Thursday or Saturday did you finally get the feeling that he was never going to miss a jump shot again?
Salim Stoudamire (Arizona). If he had hit the shot that Luther Head blocked Saturday night, he'd be the top player on this list. The guy was nails this season.
Alando Tucker (Wisconsin). Depending on what kind of bite the NBA early entry draft takes out of the conference, he could be the Big Ten's preseason 2005-06 Player of the Year.
One-and-out: (The best performances by players on teams eliminated Thursday and Friday) Randy Foye (Villanova), Daniel Ewing (Duke) and Joah Tucker (Wisconsin-Milwaukee).
Recently elected to the USBWA Hall of Fame, Frank Burlison is Scout.com's National Basketball Expert and also covers college basketball for the Long Beach (Calif.) Press-Telegram. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Read more of Burlison's pieces at FrankHoops.com