Blue Bloods dominate the South Region which should make for some classic match-ups. The South region is loaded with potential must watch games.
Here’s some to think about it:
(1) North Carolina – (2) Kentucky – Elite 8
(1) North Carolina – (3) UCLA – Elite 8
(2) Kentucky – (3) UCLA – Sweet 16
(1) North Carolina – (4) Butler – Sweet 16
(2) Kentucky – (10) Wichita State – Round of 32
Moving on to the breakdown below
As Blue Bloods dominate the region, there are team to keep an eye on.
Seton Hall is coming off a tight loss to Villanova in the Big East semifinals. They are led by star forward Angel Delgado who is one of the nation’s top interior players.
Arkansas finished third in the SEC regular season and are coming off a 25 win season. They are currently favored over Seton Hall in their opening round match up.
Cincinnati may be under seeded as 6 but the team plays tremendous team defense . Cincinnati does struggle to shoot the ball as they do have a below average offense in terms of points scored per game but if they are able to control the pace, they can upset teams along the way.
Wichita State is a team that has gained a reputation as one no one wants to see in March. Similar to Butler in the top half of the region. According to KenPom ratings, Wichita State is ranked 8th nationally and is criminally under seeded as a 10.
Middle Tennessee State has become everyone’s 5-12 upset. After the Blue Raiders beat Michigan State in last years tournament, they have become a trendy pick for an upset. Jump on the bandwagon, this 30 win team is legit.
The Favorites: North Carolina, Kentucky, UCLA
North Carolina, last years runner up, is currently favored to win the NCAA Tournament. Led by Joel Berry and ACC player of the year Justin Jackson, the team has the overall depth to win this season. The Tar Heels go nine players deep and are the nations best rebounding team. The Tar Heels rebound 42% of their misses on the offensive end.
Kentucky is led by star freshman Malik Monk and De’aaron Fox. The talented back court are expected to be lottery picks in the upcoming draft. The Wildcats already took down North Carolina behind Monk’s 47 point game earlier in the year and lost to UCLA by 5 at home.
Potential number 1 overall pick Lonzo Ball leads the UCLA Bruins and their top ranked offense. The Bruins are averaging 90.4 points per game. They shoot the 3 at a high level and make their free throws to close out games. The Bruins already knocked off Kentucky in Lexington and are capable of making a Final Four appearance after correcting some defensive issues.
Cincinnati plays tough, rigid defense. Mick Cronin has had his players develop a physical style of play and it’s resulted in a 29-5 record. The Bearcats struggle at times to score and they cannot afford a lengthy scoring drought against UCLA or Kentucky but if they are able to control the pace and force some missed shots, they can hang around and knock off a contender.
Match-up to watch: (7) Dayton vs. (10) Wichita State
This game features two of the best mid major programs in the game today. They are led by terrific coaches in Archie Miller (Dayton) and Gregg Marshall (Wichita State) who have recruited players that fit the system perfectly. Each team in recent memory has displayed that their talent should not be taking lightly as both programs have completed deep runs into March. The survivor of this game will present a difficult task to Kentucky in the round of 32.
Sweet 16: (1) North Carolina vs (4) Butler – (2) Kentucky vs (3) UCLA
Elite 8: (1) North Carolina vs (3) UCLA
Regional Champ: (1) North Carolina – The Tar Heels depth and experience will prevail and they will win their game with UCLA in a high scoring affair. North Carolina will advance to their second consecutive Final Four. They are my pick for the National Champion.