CDA News’ look at the NCAA Tournament continues with a full breakdown of the South Region. North Carolina is the top seed in the region, with Kentucky, UCLA, Wichita State and others looming as threats to make a deep run and get out of this bracket. The 16 teams here will be playing for the right to get to Memphis, Tenn., for the regional semifinals and finals.
Most Intriguing Game: Dayton vs. Wichita State. According to the advanced metrics, Wichita State should have been somewhere around a No. 5 seed. Meanwhile, Dayton is experienced and won’t be intimidated in the slightest by Wichita State’s pedigree. Really, these programs should probably go ahead and schedule a home-and-home series; it would be a quality game on both teams’ resumes between two respected programs. As for this battle, it shapes up as the most intriguing first-round game of the South Region by a wide margin.
Most Likely Upset: A 12 always beats a 5, but this has become so hyped this year that it’s almost not even an upset if Middle Tennessee defeats Minnesota in the first round. Not since Manhattan over Florida in 2002 has the general public been so certain that a 12 would win, and with 30 wins to their name and most players back from the No. 15 that upset Michigan State last year, it’s easy to see why. Minnesota knows it’s being disrespected, but that doesn’t necessarily mean the Golden Gophers can do anything about it. The Blue Raiders are for real.
Lowest Seed In the Sweet 16: Chalk is boring. Chalk is also most likely to happen here. The top four seeds appear to be in good shape to make it to Memphis, with the exception of Kentucky, who has to survive a tough opponent in the second round. However, the Wildcats are the most talented team and should be able to get themselves past either the Flyers or the Shockers to get themselves to the South Region’s Sweet 16. If you have to pick a lower seed, Middle Tennessee might be the one.
Highest Seed to Fall Early: Minnesota. When the public feels this strong on a lower seed, it means something’s up, and it’s probably bad for the higher seed. The Gophers had an impressive run, but they also don’t have experience in the NCAA tournament. They really have their work cut out for them. Cincinnati could fall to Kansas State, but otherwise, it might be smart to find upsets elsewhere.
The Region Champion Will Be: UCLA. North Carolina might be the top seed in the South Region, but the Tar Heels honestly feel like a bit of a soft No. 1 seed given that they lost twice to Duke and didn’t win the ACC title (because of a quirk, the ACC uniquely does not have a regular season title), so the region champion feels like the winner of UCLA and Kentucky. Given that UCLA’s path there is much smoother than Kentucky’s, the Bruins look like the team in the blue blood region.
Readers, do you believe in the Bruins? Can another top team be the one to get out of the region? Or will this be the NCAA Tournament region that surprises? Sound off in the comments!
Commentary by Dan Angell
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