In our final regional breakdown, we take a look at the South. Remember, four of these teams will advance to San Antonio where PB and I will be taking in the games. Other than the top three seeds, this is a very mediocre region.
All data from Ken Pomeroy. Teams listed in order of best to worst within each category. National rank for each category in parentheses.
|1||Ohio State (5)||Texas A&M (8)|
|2||Texas A&M (8)||Memphis (9)|
|3||Xavier (15)||Ohio State (10)|
|4||Nevada (21)||Louisville (18)|
|5||BYU (23)||Creighton (36)|
|6||Memphis (24)||Stanford (42)|
|7||Tennessee (28)||Tennessee (46)|
|8||Louisville (30)||Virginia (57)|
|9||Virginia (39)||Xavier (62)|
|10||Creighton (40)||BYU (101)|
|11||Stanford (70)||Pennsylvania (117)|
|12||Long Beach State (76)||Nevada (124)|
|13||Pennsylvania (102)||Albany (161)|
|14||Albany (145)||North Texas (178)|
|15||Cent. Conn State (165)||Cent. Conn. State (195)|
|16||North Texas (207)||Long Beach State (207)|
The Aggies loss to Oklahoma St. cost them a #2 seed. Texas A&M is in top 10 in both adjusted offensive and defensive efficiency, finished 13-3 in the Big 12, and is rated as the fifth best team in Pomeroy’s overall ratings. The top four seeds all received #1 seeds. However, their loss in the Big 12 quarterfinals was costly on the seed line but not in the path to the Final Four. Texas A&M will get a huge home court advantage if they can survive Louisville in Lexington and reach San Antonio.
Virginia is seeded way too high. The Cavaliers looked like the team to beat after starting 9-3 in the ACC. Since that time, they have dropped three of their last five games and all three Ls have come against teams not invited to the NCAA tournament. The good news for UVa is that the other three teams in their pod (Albany, Tennessee, and Long Beach State) were also probably overseeded as well.
Creighton is a solid #10 seed. According to Pomeroy, the Blue Jays should be favored in their matchup with Nevada. Creighton won the Missouri Valley Conference tournament including an upset win over regular season champ Southern Illinois (a #4 seed) in the tournament final. I actually think the winner of this game will really test Memphis in the second round.
This is the most mediocre region. The top three teams in this region are solid and threats to make it to Atlanta, but the rest are really average. It’s really hard to see anyone other than Ohio State, Memphis, or Texas A&M reaching the Final Four.
Best First Round Game: (7) Nevada vs (10) Creighton Two solid mid major clubs here. Nevada won the regular season WAC title but was upset in the semifinals of the conference tournament. They are led by All America candidate Nick Fazekas, who single handedly eliminated the Longhorns in the first round two years ago. Creighton is led by senior guard Nate Funk and senior post Anthony Tolliver. Both teams are experienced teams coming off solid regular seasons and have the ability to win more than one game in the tournament.
Lowest Seed Most Likely To Make Noise: Louisville Really no teams outside the top three seeds are impressive, but the Cardinals have proven they can win in tough places like Pittsburgh and Marquette. Beating Texas A&M in the second round is a monumental task but at least they’ll have the crowd on their side in Lexington.
Scariest Team In The Region: Tennessee The Vols have one of the deadliest shooters in the country in Chris Lofton, can turn their opponents over with full-court pressure, and have a coach that has proven he can win in March. A potential Sweet 16 rematch with Ohio State would be a good one.
Final Four Favorite: Texas A&M The Aggies have the ability to score inside and out, play a physical and imposing brand of defense, and have a late game clutch shooter of their own in Acie Law. The Aggies were a three-pointer away from a trip to the Sweet 16 last year. This year’s bunch is significantly better than that team and anything short of the Sweet 16 would be tremendously disappointing. Plus the Aggies will have no trouble painting the Alamodome maroon in rounds three and four if they make it that far.