The field of 65 has been picked, the regional brackets are set, and all the teams have been seeded, so let the madness begin. Starting on Tuesday with the play-in game between Arkansas-Pine Bluff and Winthrop, the march to this year’s Final Four in Indianapolis gets underway. With 64 games to go before we crown a new National Champion, there are bound to be some ugly blowouts, close calls, and shocking upsets before we find out which two teams will play for the title on Apr 5. Here is a brief preview of some of the teams to watch coming out of the South Regional along with their current odds to win it all.
Final Four Favorites
The Blue Devils have been somewhat of a surprise this season, and their impressive resume has them ranked right up there with the top three teams in the country. They come into this tournament with an overall record of 29-5 and were 13-3 in conference play. They won 10 out of their last 11 regular season games and rolled through the ACC Tournament, beating Miami 77-74 and Georgia Tech 65-61 to win it all.
Led by senior G Jon Scheyer, who is averaging a team high 18.6 points per game, and junior F Kyle Singler, who is averaging 17.6 points and 6.9 rebounds, they have a solid starting five and a capable bench. If they get by Louisville or Cal in the second round, it could be smooth sailing all the way to the South final.
The Wildcats come into this tournament licking their wounds, having lost five out of their last seven games, including a 76-80 defeat to Marquette in the Big East Tournament quarterfinals. They finished the season with an overall record of 24-7 and went 13-5 in conference play. Despite the recent poor play, these Cats still have a ton of fight left in them and are more than capable of making it to the Final Four. They have one of the best players in the nation, senior G Scottie Reynolds, who is averaging a team high 18.5 points per game. They have a strong supporting cast that consists of junior G Corey Fisher (13.7 points per game) and junior F Antonio Pena (10.9 points and 7.4 rebounds).
A few weeks back, it was doubtful the Irish would even be in this tournament after losing three straight conference games to unranked opponents. They went back to the drawing board and decided to slow things down a bit, leading to six straight wins before falling to West Virginia 51-53 in the Big East Tournament semi finals. If they are to have any chance to make some noise in this one, senior F Luke Harangody and junior F Tim Abromaitis will have to come up big. Harangody is the team’s leading scorer, averaging 22.4 points per game, and Abromaitis is averaging 16.3. If they get by a possible match up with Baylor in the second round, they could be a team to watch.
Coming out of the MAAC with an overall record of 27-6 (17-1 in conference play), the Saints are the kind of team that nobody really wants to face. They have only lost twice in their last 23 games, with one of those losses coming to No. 8-ranked Butler (53-70). Their starting five features four players that are averaging over 13 points per game, led by senior F Alex Franklin, who is averaging 16.3. They face a wounded Purdue in the first round and are more than capable of beating either Utah State or Texas A&M in the second. From there, anything can happen.
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