College Football

Wednesday, March 14, 2018

NCAA Tournament Preview: South Region

By Joe Smeltzer 

March Madness is here, and to celebrate, I will be previewing all four regions. We kicked things off with the east region, continued with the west, and now its on to the south. To whom it may concern, I will not be talking about the 16 seeds in any of my previews, as it is a waste of time. I will also not go too in-depth on seeds 13-15, as those teams hardly have any luck. Let's get into it.

#1 Virginia
Scoring: Kyle Guy (SO, G) (14.1)
Rebounding: Isaiah Wilkins (SR, F) (6.3)
Assists: Ty Jerome (SO, G) (3.9)
Devon Hall (SR, G) (12 PPG)
De'Andre Hunter (FR, G) (9.2 PPG)
What they do well
Since Tony Bennett put UVA back on the map, the Wahoos have established themselves as a defensive basketball team. This season, the "Pack Line" might be the best it's ever been, with Cavs allowing a stellar 53 points per game. Nobody plays D like UVA, and that's why they are the number one overall seed.

What could be their downfall?
History is not on Virginia's side. Tony Bennett has yet to reach the Final Four, and many feel that UVA's style of play doesn't allow them to go far in March. It's up to the Cavs to finally prove those skeptics wrong.

#2 Cincinnati 
Scoring: Gary Clark (SR, F) (13.0)
Rebounding: Gary Clark (8.5)
Assists: Jacob Evans (JR, G) (3.2)
Kyle Washington (SR, F) (11.3 PPG)
Jordan Cumberland (SO, G) (10.9 PPG)
Cane Broome (JR, G) (8.2 PPG)
What they do well
Cincy's defense is almost as good as Virginia's. The Bearcats are known to hold teams under 60, so like UVA, if UC wins a national title, it will be because of its D.

What could be their downfall?
Also similar to UVA, Cincinnati hasn't been to a Final Four in ages, having failed to get past the Sweet 16 since 1996. With teams seeded as highly as Cincinnati, the experience becomes a factor, and since the Bearcats haven't proven themselves capable of making it to a Final Four, a lot of people won't believe it until they see it. 

#3 Tennessee 
Scoring: Grant Williams (SO, F) (15.3)
Rebounding: Admiral Schofield (JR, F) (6.3)
Assists: Jordan Bone (SO, G) (3.6)
Lamonte Turner (SO, G) (10.7 PPG)
Jordan Bowden (SO, G) (9.3 PPG)
What they do well
Rick Barnes has done a fantastic job getting the Vols back on the map, and a big reason why Rocky Top is dancing is their ball movement. Although Tennessee ranked just eighth of 14 SEC teams in scoring offense, they led the conference in assists per game. The Vols play solid, unselfish basketball, and that could pay dividends when it matters most.

What could be their downfall?
Tennessee is undersized, so unsurprisingly, it isn't a great rebounding team, ranking just ninth in its conference in that department. The Vols don't have a starter over 6 ft. 7, and if they run into a squad with a dominant big, that will be a problem. 

#4 Arizona
Scoring: Deandre Ayton (FR, C) (20.3)
Rebounding: Deandre Ayton (11.5)
Assists: Parker-Jackson Cartwright (SR, G) (4.6)
Allonzo Trier (JR, G) (18.4 PPG)
Rawle Alkins (SO, G) (13.4 PPG)
Dusan Ristic (SR, C) (12.1 PPG)
What they do well
Anytime you have a player like Ayton, big things are possible. Fortunately for 'Zona, the big fella isn't all there is. Trier, Ristic (another big hoss) bring a ton of talent, while Jackson-Cartwright brings a solid senior leader. Sean Miller has yet to get to the Final Four, and while this team isn't as celebrated as some of his past Arizona squads, don't think that a Final Four is out of the question. 

What could be their downfall
The Wildcats tied for eighth in the PAC 12 in three-point defense, so that is their kryptonite. 

#6 Miami 
Scoring: Lonnie Walker IV (FR, G) (11.5)
Rebounding: Bruce Brown Jr. (SO, G) (7.1 RPG)
Assists: Bruce Brown Jr. (4.0 APG)
Dewan Hall (SO, F) (11.4 PPG)
Chris Lykes (FR, G) (9.6 PPG)
Dejan Vasiljevic (SO, G) (9.0 PPG)
What they do well
The U doesn't excel in any particular area, but they rank in the top half of the ACC in most a categories. The best way I can describe Miami is that they are what they are; a middle-of-the-road ACC team. 

What could be their downfall?
The 'Canes rank 10th in the ACC in rebounding. Since Miami is a better shooting team than Loyola, it will likely have its fair share of chances to pound the glass. If the Hurricanes don't take advantage of those chances, it could cost them right off the bat.

#7 Nevada 
Scoring: Caleb Martin (JR, F) (19.1)
Rebounding: Jordan Caroline (JR, G) (8.8)
Assists: Cody Martin (JR, F) (4.6)
Kendal Stephens (SR, G) (13.2 PPG)
Lindsey Drew (JR, G) (8.1 PPG)
What they do well
The Wolfpack dominated the Mountain West in most categories on both sides of the ball. In particular, Nevada topped the conference in defending the three-pointer as well as shooting it. Led by Caleb Martin, the Wolfpack is for real, and they will be a lot to handle for any team they come across.  

What could be their downfall?
Nevada was ninth of 11 conference teams in rebounding. Guys just need to box out. 

#8 Creighton 
Scoring: Marcus Foster (20.3)
Rebounding: Martin Krampeij
Assists: Davon Mintz (3.1)
Khyri Thomas (15.3 PPG)
Toby Hegner (8.3 PPG)
What they do well
Led by Foster and Thomas, the Blue Jays tied with Xavier for second in the Big East in scoring at 84.3 points per game. Any team that has weapons like those two on offense is a handful for any opposing team, and Kansas State will find that out.

What could be their downfall
It's hard to find a team that is equally effective on both sides of the ball. Creighton ranked seventh of 10 conference teams in defense. So if the Blue Jays get past Kansas State, expect it to be a shootout.

#9: Kansas State
Scoring: Dean Wade (16.5)
Rebounds: Dean Wade (6.3)
Assists: Kamau Stokes (3.5)
Barry Brown (16.0 PPG)
Xavier Sneed (10.8 PPG)
Cartier Diarra (7.2 PPG)
What they do well
Unlike their first-round opponent, the Wildcats are known mainly for their defense. Kansas State ranked second in the Big 12 in scoring defense, and fifth in defending the three-pointer. So the matchup with Creighton will be somewhat of a difference in styles.

What could be their downfall?
The Wildcats were next to last in the Big 12 in both scoring offense and three-point shooting. 

#10 Texas 
Scoring: Dylan Osetkowski (JR, F) (13.6)
Rebounding: Mo Bamba (FR, F) (10.4)
Assists: Matt Coleman (FR, G) (4.1)
Andrew Jones (SO, G) (13.5 PPG)
Kerwin Roach II (JR, G) (11.9 PPG)
What they do well?
Uh, they have Mo Bamba and they play in the Big 12. That's all I can think of.

What could be their downfall?
Playing Nevada. 

#11 Loyola Illinois 
Scoring: Clayton Custer (13.4)
Rebounding: Donte Ingram (6.5)
Assists: Clayton Custer (4.3)
Marques Townes (11.2 PPG)
Aundre Jackson (10.9 PPG)
Cameron Kurtwig (10.5 PPG)
What they do well
With five players averaging in double figures, the Ramblers can, uh, Ramble. Loyola can also defend, leading the Missouri Valley Conference in rebounding and finishing second in scoring defense. This is a dangerous mid-major school and could make some noise in the south region. 

What could be their downfall?
They haven't played the best competition in the Missouri Valley. Aside from that, it's hard to find a category where the Ramblers fall short.

#12 Davidson 
I know 12-5 upsets are frequent, but Kentucky is on fire, and I don't see any way Peyton Aldridge and Davidson can pull it off

#13 Buffalo 
They're not beating Arizona.

#14 Wright State 
They're not beating Tennessee.

#15 Georgia State 
Sorry, coach Hunter. 

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