The Virginia Cavaliers (29-3) did not ask for this. They went out and earned a No. 1 seed for the fourth time in the last six seasons. The Cavaliers are attempting to eradicate the taste from their round of 64 loss to the UMBC Retrievers last season. They were the first No. 1 seed to ever lose in the first round. Although they’ve done a good job of moving past the historic loss, tensions will build if Gardner-Webb hangs around early.
Automatic Qualifiers: 7 Teams- None of the top five seeds earned the automatic berth in the South region. Meaning, the favorites are all entering the NCAA Tournament with a loss. Furthermore, the top five seeds are facing conference champions in the round of 64. However, they shouldn’t be too worried just yet.
The conference champions are averaging a (25-9) record in the South region. Interestingly enough, defending national champions Villanova Wildcats have that exact record as the Big East champion. Meanwhile, the UC Irvine Anteaters have the best Automatic bid record at (30-5). PAC-12 champion Oregon Ducks have the worst record at (23-12). However, the Ducks are playing their best basketball of the season. Saint Mary’s, Colgate and Gardner-Webb each have double digit losses as well.
16 Gardner-Webb (23-11) Big South Champion-
12 Oregon (23-12) PAC-12 Champion-
13 UC Irvine (30-5) Big West Champion-
6 Villanova (25-9) Big East Champion-
11 Saint Mary’s (22-11) WCC Champion-
14 Old Dominion (26-8) Conference USA Champion-
7 Cincinnati (27-6) AAC Champion-
15 Colgate (24-10) Patriot League Champion-
Double Digit Losses: 8 Teams
Conferences Represented: 12
Big Ten (3 Teams): Purdue, Wisconsin, Iowa
SEC (2 Teams): Tennessee, Ole Miss
Big 12 (2 Teams): Kansas State, Oklahoma
Big South: Gardner-Webb
Big West: UC-Irvine
Big East: Villanova
WCC: Saint Mary’s
CUSA: Old Dominion
Patriot League: Colgate
5 Stars to Watch
- Kyle Guy- Virginia: It’s very simple for Kyle Guy and the Virginia Cavaliers. Win the first game and everything should take care of itself. Guy is a deadly shooter and is one of the best motion players in the country. He can come off of screens in man to man and light opponents up. Guy leads the Cavaliers with 15.6 points per game. He is scorching the nets at 46.3 percent from 3-point range. Guy also averages 4.4 rebounds and 2.2 assists per game.
- Eric Paschall- Villanova: Eric Paschall is bringing 16.5 points and 6.2 rebounds to the party. He is the second-leading scorer, leading rebounder and third in assists with 2.2 per game. Paschall can score from anywhere on the court. He is at his best when he is shooting from 3-point land confidently. More importantly, Villanova is hard to beat when Paschall is getting exciting dunks in the half court basketball.
- Grant Williams- Tennessee: Grant Williams won SEC POY for the second year in a row. He has upped his scoring average from 15 points to 19 points in a single season. Williams has a lot to prove for the Volunteers in the Volunteers. They lost in the second round in 2018. Williams must lead a total team effort to avoid an early exit this time around. He is shooting 56.5 percent from the field. Williams also averages 7.6 rebounds per game.
- Ethan Happ- Wisconsin: Happ struggled in a recent win over Nebraska. He is producing 17.5 points and 10 rebounds per game this season. Happ must be aware of potential traps in the post. If Oregon is following the game plan of other successful opponents, they won’t let Happ get comfortable in one-on-one situations.
- Barry Brown- Kansas State: Barry Brown is not the lone star for the regular season co-Big 12 champs. However, the Wildcats might be without forward Dean Wade in the NCAA Tournament. As a result, Brown must play his best basketball in March Madness. He is averaging 14.9 points, 4.1 rebounds and 2.9 assists per game. Brown must not settle for 3-point shots, especially when the game gets tight. He struggles from deep.
Max Hazzard is the leading scorer for the team with the most wins in the South region. He is averaging 12.5 points per game for the UC-Irvine Anteaters. The Anteaters have nine players scoring at least five points per game. He attempts over six 3-pointers per game. Therefore, Hazzard has an opportunity to get going from long range in their first round matchup. Will he have one of those breakout star moments? He only scored at least 23 points in four games this season. However, Hazzard dropped 23 in the Big West finale to send the Anteaters into the field of 68.
South Region Bracket
1 Virginia (29-3) ACC vs.
16 Gardner-Webb (23-11) Big South
8 Ole Miss (20-12) SEC vs.
9 Oklahoma (19-13) Big 12
5 Wisconsin (23-10) Big Ten vs.
12 Oregon (23-12) PAC 12
4 Kansas State (25-8) Big 12 vs.
13 UC-Irvine (30-5) Big West
6 Villanova (25-9) Big East vs.
11 Saint Mary’s (22-11) WCC
3 Purdue (23-9) Big Ten vs
14 Old Dominion (26-8) CUSA
7 Cincinnati (27-6) AAC vs.
10 Iowa (22-11) Big Ten
2 Tennessee (29-5) SEC vs.
15 Colgate (24-10) Patriot League