NCAA Tournament bracket picks: South Region
Can the Baylor Bears recuperate their mojo? Look, this is not as drastic because the Monstars stealing the expertise of Barkley, Ewing and LJ in the unique “Space Jam,” however Baylor these days has not been the devastating defensive crew it as soon as was. Many hint it to this system’s three-week COVID pause that consumed most of their February, however in reality it goes again farther than that. Every opponent it has confronted for the reason that return has reached at the least one level per possession, however so did three of the Bears’ 5 opponents beforehand, and Oklahoma State solely missed by a smidge in their first assembly. This is a program that allowed the opposition solely 0.88 factors per journey final season, which was fourth in Division I, and that is how the crew started this 12 months. It’s conceivable this group of Baylor gamers peaked someday round January of this season. Or it is doable that dealing with the identical group so usually gave Big 12 coaches an opportunity to regulate. Which will not be an issue in this event, at the least for some time.
|EJ Liddell||Forward||Ohio State|
Butler, Mitchell and Robinson-Earl all had been a part of Sporting News’ 15-man All-America team. It was painful to go away off dynamic Arkansas freshman Moses Moody.
Best first-round sport
No. 8 North Carolina vs. No. 9 Wisconsin. The Badgers introduced again nearly all of a roster that shared the 2020 Big Ten championship however appeared to stagnate; they went .500 in league play and misplaced all 9 video games in opposition to convention opponents who’re seeded above them in the NCAA area. They didn’t get to play in the NCAAs as league champions a 12 months in the past, so that is as shut as they will come to recovering that have — if they will keep in mind what made them particular. They’ll have a tough problem in opposition to a North Carolina crew that responded to a shocking residence loss to Marquette with 4 wins in their subsequent 5, because the Tar Heels’ younger large males joined with veterans Armando Bacot and Garrison Brooks in what has turn out to be the deepest frontcourt in faculty hoops.
Seeded too excessive
No. 7 Florida. This line appears too wealthy for the Gators, whose profile appears nearly designed to yield a spot in an 8-9 sport. The Gators apparently had been rewarded for avoiding Quad 4 opponents (they solely confronted one) and for an SEC/Big 12 Challenge victory over West Virginia. They completed 14-9, with KenPom rankings on each offense and protection proper round fortieth. What’s bizarre, although, is that they’ll play a No. 10 seed Virginia Tech crew that additionally appeared prefer it belonged in an 8-9 sport. The solely distinction is that, as an alternative of the winner dealing with a No. 1 seed in the second spherical, it’s going to nearly definitely be seeing No. 2 Ohio State.
Seeded too low
No. 14 Colgate. The committee had little upon which to base its choice with the Raiders, who didn’t play non-conference video games and thus gave everybody little or no knowledge by which to guage the crew. The NCAA’s personal NET rankings positioned the Raiders at No. 9 in the nation via some statistical quirk that nobody who understands is more likely to clarify. They are also 84th in Ken Pomeroy’s rankings at KenPom.com, which makes them the 52nd-highest crew to make the sector, which might make them a thirteenth seed. It’s unclear what gave North Texas an edge for that spot.
Purdue over Baylor in the Sweet 16. The Boilermakers have all kinds of how they will play, together with utilizing Trevion Williams as a low-post specialist or 7-4 freshman Zach Edey as an entire change of tempo. Freshman wing Jaden Ivey is turning into a game-changing participant; since Feb. 1, he has gone for double figures in each sport however one. He nonetheless isn’t a constant shooter, however he is keen to take large pictures — and makes a whole lot of them.
Best potential sport
No. 2 Ohio State vs. No. 6 Texas Tech in the Sweet 16. It looks like each sport the Buckeyes play is a traditional, from their late-February shootout with Big Ten regular-season champion Michigan to their convention event semifinal in opposition to Purdue to the title sport loss to Illinois, which wanted time beyond regulation. It looks like each sport Tech performs is a traditional, from their one-point December loss to Kansas to their 76-71 comeback in opposition to LSU to their one-point Big 12 Tournament loss to Texas. If we get this sport, what ought to we count on however a traditional?
Best potential participant matchup
Villanova ahead Jeremiah Robinson-Earl vs. Purdue ahead Trevion Williams. Robinson-Earl has not had fairly the season of which he was succesful; that he nonetheless was voted third-team All-America by Sporting News reveals how huge his expertise really is. He is a extra cellular large man than Williams, able to working as a stretch 4 in addition to working the baseline. Williams is a back-to-the-basket large with a full package deal of expertise, significantly his low-post strikes, and in addition has super imaginative and prescient as a passer. Wildcats coach Jay Wright may wish to hold Robinson-Earl away from Williams to keep away from foul threat, however he in all probability could be essentially the most appropriate matchup
Get to know
Arkansas freshman wing Moses Moody. The 6-6 Moody conveniently grew up in Little Rock and — not like many gamers rated above him in the 2020 recruiting class — carried out effectively above his projections. He was ranked No. 45 in his class by 247Sports, however Moody instantly grew to become indispensable to the Razorbacks, averaging 34 minutes,17.4 factors and 5.9 rebounds per sport and taking pictures 37.9 % from lengthy distance. He was named the SEC’s Freshman of the Year and to the league’s bloated (eight-man) all-conference crew. He’d have made it if the league had performed because it ought to and picked solely 5.
Don’t be shocked if . . .
The No. 12 seed Winthrop Eagles are capable of knock off Jay Wright’s Villanova Wildcats, who gained two of the 4 most up-to-date NCAA championships. The Eagles stormed via their schedule with a 23-1 file however had been capable of play solely two non-conference video games. One of these was a win over Southern Conference champion UNC-Greensboro, which earned a No. 13 seed in the East Region. The Eagles gained their three convention event video games by a mean of 26 factors. This form of dominance is uncommon in a league just like the Big South, however apparently it is a particular group. And it is going to be enjoying a Villanova crew that misplaced twice after star level guard Collin Gillespie was misplaced for the foreseeable future with a knee harm.
No. 8 North Carolina. We’ve heard all 12 months about how horrible the ACC is in comparison with different leagues and particularly to its personal historical past. Well, there undoubtedly is not a Jordan-Worthy-Perkins in the league, or a Laettner-Hurley-Hill. But nobody’s obtained groups like these any extra, wealthy in top-10 draft picks and expertise. What issues is how the ACC compares to the competitors. This Carolina crew obtained extra from its freshmen (Caleb Love, Day’Ron Sharpe, R.J. Davis and, these days, Walker Kessler) than most. An prolonged NCAA run would speed up their growth.
Final Four pick
Purdue. It’s a threat to go this deep into the sector for a Final Four pick. To get to that stage of the event, the Boilers probably should face Big East champion Villanova, Big 12 champion Baylor and doubtless Arkansas, Texas Tech or Big Ten runner-up Ohio State. So, yeah, it won’t be straightforward. They’re younger, deep and possibly a 12 months away from fielding a real championship contender. They would not have been the pick in some other bracket. But the lineup of opponents appears good for them to get via the requisite 4 video games.