The South Region bracket has been released and the Arizona Wildcats are on top as the 1-seed. This appears to be a pretty tough draw for Arizona, having to deal with potentially Villanova, the Big East champions, and Tennessee, the SEC champions.
No. 1 Arizona vs. No. 16 Wright State/Bryant
While he’s likely a future lottery pick, Bennedict Mathurin has been incredible for the Wildcats as he’s averaging 17.3 points per game. If they can continue to ride his success, they have a legitimate shot of winning it all.
The NEC regular-season and tournament champion enter the NCAA Tournament as winners in 16 of their past 17 games. Talented and talkative senior guard Peter Kiss is Division I’s leading scorer at 25.1 points per game.
Wright State will go only as far as their ball-dominant leading scorers, Tanner Holden and Grant Basile, can take them. They are a subpar unit on defense, but the Raiders have averaged 76.7 points over their previous seven games.
No. 2 Villanova vs. No. 15 Delaware
Gillespie was a pre-season vote for the Big East Player of the Year and he played like it in the regular season. He averaged 15.9 points, 3.8 rebounds and 3.3 assists per game. He averaged 3.0 three pointers made per game which was the second most in the Big East.
The Blue Hens are hoping to earn their first NCAA Tournament victory in the program’s sixth appearance. A balanced, high-percentage offense, led by guard Jameer Nelson Jr., is their strength.
No. 3 Tennessee vs. No. 14 Longwood
Tennessee looks like a team who could win a few games in the NCAA Tournament this year. With Kennedy Chandler and Santiago Vescovi leading the team in scoring with just over 13 points per game, the Volunteers have multiple reliable scoring options.
The Longwood Lancers are in the NCAA Tournament for the first time in program history, though they only became eligible for the event in 2012. Justin Hill runs the show offensively as the team’s top scorer and assist man.
No. 4 Illinois vs. No. 13 Chattanooga
Illinois no longer has Ayo Dosunmu, but Kofi Cockburn is still on the team and can propel this group to a deep NCAA Tournament run. After a quick exit in 2021, this Illini unit is capable of making major noise as it’ll come in without the pressure of a No. 1 seed.
Talented scorer Malachi Smith and former Kansas forward Silvio De Sousa head Chattanooga’s offensively efficient attack. No matter how they perform in the NCAA Tournament, guard David Jean-Baptiste’s miraculous 3-pointer to win the Southland Conference Tournament will be on highlight reels for years to come.
No. 5 Houston vs. No. 12 UAB
The Cougars ran through the AAC with ease, but did lose to Memphis twice. Houston will attempt to move a few seed lines up with the conference tournament but they’re locked into their spot. They were likely making the tournament anyway, but the 7-153 championship win over Memphis gives them an automatic bid.
Jordan Walker is averaging over 20 points per game, but the Blazers are actually a fairly balanced team. UAB has five players with decent scoring averages, creating one of the more efficient offenses in the country. This team is on a winning streak and has the firepower to create chaos in the bracket.
No. 6 Colorado State vs. No. 11 Michigan
The Colorado State Rams are in the NCAA Tournament for the first time in nearly a decade, and it’s their offense that got them here. David Roddy will be the player to watch for Colorado State, and he has the ability to take over a game at any time.
With their late season push, Michigan may have done enough to get into the field of 68. The Wolverines found some confidence in wins over Purdue, Iowa, Michigan State and Ohio State. If Hunter Dickinson puts it all together, the Wolverines are a real threat to bust some brackets.
No. 7 Ohio State vs. No. 10 Loyola-Chicago
The Ohio State Buckeyes faded down the stretch of the regular season with a ton of games in a short period of time to make up for postponed games and lost four of their last five coming into the NCAA Tournament. The are entirely led by the offensive end of the floor, and EJ Liddell is a real difference maker as a scorer, rebounder and shot blocker.
Lucas Williamson and Braden Norris will be the players to watch, but this is a deep group. We haven’t seen the Ramblers overcome big deficits this season, so that’s the one downside of the style they play.
No. 8 Seton Hall vs. No. 9 TCU
Not many players in college basketball are listed as a bonafide center, but senior Ike Obiagu is with his 7 ft. 2 frame. He was fifth in the entire NCAA with 3.3 blocks per game.
Jamie Dixon has TCU ready to make legitimate noise in the NCAA Tournament. Star guard Mike Miles, who is averaging 15 points per game, can lead them into the second weekend of the tournament.