March Madness: South Region Preview
Host Jeremy Ganes and analysts Andre Magaro and Jake Starr discuss the South Region heading into the first round of the NCAA Tournament:
Complete preview of the South Region (Louisville, Kentucky):
No. 1 Virginia vs. No. 16 Gardner-Webb:
Virginia has had another fantastic season, losing only to Duke and Florida State, but the only way for Virginia to silence the doubters is to reach the Final Four. This time around could definitely be the year. Virginia is great again defensively, and this year’s team is also the best offensive team that Tony Bennent has ever had. The Cavaliers shoot the ball very well with Kyle Guy, Ty Jerome, De'Andre Hunter and Jay Huff all shooting over 40 percent from deep. As a team, Virginia shoots over 41 percent from 3-point range, which is third in Division I. Hunter is a potential lottery pick and can guard anybody in the country. Gardner-Webb will pull a UMBC on Virginia, especially now that the Cavaliers have something to prove.
No. 8 Ole Miss vs. No. 9 Oklahoma:
Oklahoma is a very good defensive team led by Christian James and Brady Manek. The Sooners are second in the Big 12 in field goal percentage defense, and they are able to prevent opponents from getting into their sets without fouling. Ole Miss has excellent guards who help force a turnover on 21 percent of opponents' possessions. Breein Tyree and Terence Davis lead a dangerous lineup with a high-scoring backcourt and a serviceable batch of forwards. Ole Miss shot 36.1 percent on 3-pointers, 52.8 percent on 2-pointers and 78.5 percent at the free throw line (fourth in the nation) in the regular season. They also snared 31 percent of their missed shots and are wired to score in transition. Ole Miss moves on.
No. 5 Wisconsin vs. No. 12 Oregon:
Oregon would have been excluded from the field before it beat Washington in the Pac-12 tournament, but the Ducks are an excellent defensive team that can extend and guard out on the floor and control the tempo of a game. With four starters at 6-foot-9 the Ducks rank 12th in block percentage, 20th in steal percentage and are 18th in overall defensive efficiency. Payton Pritchard has been the team leader, while Louis King has led the team in scoring. Wisconsin is another good defensive team, holding opponents to a 44 effective field goal percentage (fifth in Division I). D'Mitrik Trice is a former quarterback who has been a field general for Greg Gard, and Ethan Happ is a superstar with the best footwork of any big man in the country. Happ can do it all except shoot free-throws. The Ducks will advance.
No. 4 Kansas State vs. No. 13 UC Irvine:
UC Irvine is a great defensive team, especially in the paint. The Anteaters allowed the lowest field goal percentage on 2-point attempts in the nation, at just over 40 percent for the season. Their guards do a great job closing out on shooters and funneling drivers to the long arms of their frontcourt. UC Irvine also grabbed the third-most rebounds in Division I. Max Hazzard is a very good guard with a quick first step and terrific range on his jumper. Kansas State tied for the Big 12 regular-season title with Texas Tech and has been one of the stingiest defensive teams in the country. The Wildcats allowed only 7.2 second-chance points per game, second fewest among major conference teams. Barry Brown takes on the opposition's best wing and Dean Wade, when healthy, is one of the best passing big guys in the country. UC Irvine can beat Kansas State, but the Wildcats should advance.
No. 6 Villanova vs. No. 11 Saint Mary's:
Jay Wright has done a great job with the Wildcats, continuing to teach the young guys while Phil Booth, Eric Paschall and Collin Gillespie lead the way. Jermaine Samuels and Saddiq Bey have come along, and were big parts of Villanova's Big East regular-season and tournament titles.
Villanova ranks third in the Big East in assists while committing the fewest turnovers in the conference. Players such as Booth and Paschall aren't elite scorers, but they find ways to produce for Villanova by finding the right opportunities. Villanova ranks 13th in the nation in offensive efficiency and plays the slowest tempo in the Big East. That patience and basketball intelligence fuel Villanova's offensive success. Saint Mary's controls the game by forcing teams to play at a very slow pace. The Gaels use all 30 seconds of the shot clock and also led the WCC in offensive rebound rate, meaning they often reset the shot clock and wind it down a second time. Jordan Ford is a gifted scorer and should be a problem for Villanova. This one will be very close, but Villanova’s ability to take care of the ball will be the difference.
No. 3 Purdue vs. No. 14 Old Dominion:
The Boilermakers have one of the best guard in America in Carsen Edwards and have the fifth-most efficient offense in the college basketball. They also take great care of the ball (just 10.7 turnovers per game), and led the Big Ten in made 3-pointers. Old Dominion will be a difficult matchup as an excellent defensive team led by B.J. Stith and Ahmad Caver. Stith transferred to Old Dominion from Virginia and Caver is one of the top mid-major point guards, averaging 17 points and six assists. Caver is a very good defender and leader, and Stith is a good shooter who is also a terrific free throw shooter. As good as Old Dominion is on defense, Purdue is even better on offense. Edwards will lead Purdue to the second round.
No. 7 Cincinnati vs. No. 10 Iowa:
Cincinnati is great defensively again, using its length and athleticism to hold opponents under 60 points. Field goals inside the arc are difficult to come by, meaning their opponents have to be efficient everywhere else to have a chance. They're also one of the nation's best offensive rebounding teams and get to the foul line often. Jarron Cumberland leads the Bearcats in scoring and assists, and his production is astounding considering how much defensive attention he gets. Iowa plays very fast, averaging 79 points per game. The Hawkeyes have a quartet of double-figure scorers in Tyler Cook, Luka Garza, Jordan Bohannon and Joe Wieskamp. However, Iowa ranks 122nd in defensive efficiency and ranks 81st in defensive free throw rate. The Bearcats will exploit those weaknesses and march on to the second round.
No. 2 Tennessee vs. No. 15 Colgate:
Colgate is a solid offensive team that scores efficiently and shoots well but doesn't take care of the ball as well as it needs to in order to beat a team like Tennessee. The Vols are deep and talented with the SEC Player of the Year in Grant Williams, Admiral Schofield and the best point guard in the SEC, Jordan Bone. Tennessee is the best passing team in the SEC and scores 36 points per game in the paint, which is third among major conference teams. The Vols will cruise.
Virginia vs. Ole Miss:
Ole Miss is a very efficient offensive team with a terrific backcourt, but the Rebels will be not match for the Cavaliers. They are too good on both ends of the floor.
Oregon vs. Kansas State:
The Ducks are a much better team now than two months ago, but so is Kansas State. Oregon still has issues offensively and with a healthy Dean Wade, the Wildcats should prevail.
Villanova vs. Purdue:
Both teams run very sound offense, but the Boilermakers are better on both ends of the court and have the best player of either team in Edwards. Purdue advances.
Cincinnati vs. Tennessee:
Cincinnati will give Tennessee all it can handle with its defense. Tennessee, however, is an elite offensive team when on and Jordan Bone will make life difficult for Jarron Cumberland. Cincinnati doesn't have the scoring depth to make up for it and is susceptible defending the 3.
Tennessee vs. Purdue
The Volunteers hold Carsen Edwards in check and move on to the Elite Eight.
Virginia vs. Kansas State:
Virginia is the better team at both ends of the floor and will move on to the Elite Eight.
Virginia vs. Tennessee
This is the year for Tony Bennett and the Cavaliers. The demons from last year’s early exit are exercised and Virginia heads to Minneapolis.
Will Desautelle is a junior majoring in broadcast journalism. To contact him, email firstname.lastname@example.org.