Your Guide To The 2019 NCAA Men’s Tournament: South region

  • 4 Oct, 2019

Top seed outlook: Could No. 1 Virginia exorcise the past year’s demons now that the team is currently at full strength? Our model thinks so. The Cavaliers have a 49 percent probability of cracking the Final Four and a 31 percent likelihood of reaching what is the program’s first national title game. Together with De’Andre Hunter, that wasn’t on the court last year during UVA’s historical loss to No. 16 Maryland Baltimore County, the Cavaliers have been dominant on both ends — the sole team ranking in the top five at Pomeroy’s adjusted offense and protection metrics. Yet more, Tony Bennett’s pack line defense is suffocating most offensive opportunity and successfully turning games into rock fights. However, this year’s group is even better on the offensive end and ought to breeze into the Elite Eight, in which it might meet Tennessee. Thanks to Grant Williams and the wonderfully named Admiral Schofield, the No. 2 Volunteers are enjoying their very best basketball in history. We provide them a 22 percent likelihood of reaching the Final Four. Sneaky Final Four select: No. 6 Villanova. Can it be”sneaky” to select the team that’s won two of the past three national titles? Not. But this hasn’t been the exact same group that coach Jay Wright advised to those championships. After losing a ton of its best players from last year’s title-winning group, the Wildcats had an up-and-down year and lost five of the final eight regular-season Big East games. But they also got hot over the past week, capping off a year where they still won the Big East regular-season and conference-tournament titles — and still had among the 20 greatest offenses in the country according to KenPom (powered by an absurd number of 3-pointers). Our power ratings believe they’re the fourth-best team at the South despite being the No. 6 seed, and they have a 5 percent chance of making it back into the Final Four for a third time in four seasons. Do not bet on: No. 4 Kansas State. Coach Bruce Weber’s Wildcats nearly made the Final Four final season, however they might find it tougher this time around. K-State has an elite defense (it ranks fourth in the country based on Pomeroy’s ratings), but its crime is more prone to battles — and could be down its second-leading scorer, forward Dean Wade, who missed the team’s Big 12 tournament loss to Iowa State with a foot injury. A brutal draw that provides the Wildcats tough No. 13 seed UC Irvine in the first round, then places them contrary to the Wisconsin-Oregon winner in Round 2, could limit their potential to progress deep into another consecutive tournament. Cinderella watch: No. 12 Oregon. According to our model, the Ducks have the very best Sweet 16 odds (24 percent) of any double-digit seed in the championship, more than twice that of any other offender. Oregon struggled to string together wins for the majority of the regular season, and its own odds seemed sunk following 7-foot-2 phenom Bol Bol was missing for the season with a foot injury in January. But the Ducks have rallied to win eight consecutive games heading into the championship, such as a convincing victory in Saturday’s Pac-12 championship. Oregon matches a similar mould as K-State — great defense with a defendant crime — but that is telling, given that the Ducks are a 12-seed and the Wildcats are a No. 4. Should they fulfill in the Round of 32, we give Oregon a 47 percent chance at the upset. Player to watch: Grant Williams, Tennessee The junior has come a long way from being”a fat boy with some skill.” Williams, the de facto leader of Rick Barnes’s Volunteers, has bullied the SEC within the previous two seasons, amassing two successive conference player of the year honors. The Vols might just feature the best crime of Barnes’s coaching career — and we are talking about a man who coached Kevin Durant! A lot of that offensive potency could be tracked to Williams, the team’s leading scorer and rebounder, who ranks in the 97th percentile in scoring efficiency, based on information courtesy of Synergy Sports. Williams owns an old-man game you might find at a regional YMCA, a back-to-the-basket, footwork-proficient offensive attack that manifests primarily in post-ups, where he ranks in the 98th percentile in scoring efficacy and shoots a adjusted field-goal proportion of 56.1. He can find the Volunteers buckets in the waning moments of games, too, as he positions from the 96th percentile in isolation scoring efficacy. Likeliest first-round upsets: No. 9 Oklahoma over No. 8 Ole Miss (53 percent); No. 12 Oregon over No. 5 Wisconsin (45 percent); No. 10 Iowa over No. 7 Cincinnati (34 percent) Read more: sportscoverage.net/smarkets/

Author @Patrick Cohn

Dr. Patrick Cohn is the owner of Peak Performance Sports and a world-renowned mental training expert who works with athletes of all levels including junior, collegiate, professional, and senior athletes.
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