Your Guide To The 2019 NCAA Men’s Tournament: South region
Best seed outlook: Can No. 1 Virginia exorcise the past year's allies now that the team is at full strength? Our model believes so. The Cavaliers have a 49 percent likelihood of cracking the Final Four and a 31 percent probability of accomplishing what would be the program's first national title match.
Together with De'Andre Hunter, who wasn't on the court last year during UVA's historical loss to No. 16 Maryland Baltimore County, the Cavaliers were dominant on both ends -- the only team ranking in the top five at Pomeroy's adjusted offense and defense metrics. Yet again, Tony Bennett's pack line defense is suffocating most every offensive chance and successfully turning games into rock fights. However, this year's team is even better on the offensive end and should breeze to the Elite Eight, in which it might meet Tennessee. Due to Grant Williams and the wonderfully named Admiral Schofield, the No. 2 Volunteers are playing their very best basketball in history. We give them a 22 percent probability of reaching the Final Four.
Sneaky Final Four pick: No. 6 Villanova. Is it"sneaky" to select the team that has won just two of the past three national titles? Not. But this hasn't been the exact same group that coach Jay Wright guided to those championships. After dropping 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 their final eight regular-season Big East games. But they also got hot over the past week, capping off a season where they won the Big
East regular-season and conference-tournament titles -- and still had one of the 20 best offenses in the country according to KenPom (powered through an absurd number of 3-pointers). Our power ratings believe that they're the fourth-best team at the South despite being the No. 6 seed, and they have a 5% chance of making it back to the Final Four for a third time in four seasons.
Don't bet : No. 4 Kansas State. Coach Bruce Weber's Wildcats almost produced the Final Four last season, but they might find it tougher this time around. K-State has an elite defense (it ranks fourth in the nation according to Pomeroy's evaluations ), but its crime is more prone to struggles -- and may 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 barbarous draw that gives the Wildcats tough No. 13 seed UC Irvine in the first round, then puts them contrary to the Wisconsin-Oregon winner in Round two, could limit their capability to advance deep into another consecutive tournament.
Cinderella watch: No. 12 Oregon. According to our model, the Ducks have the best Sweet 16 odds (24 percent) of any double-digit seed in the tournament, over twice that of any other candidate. Oregon struggled to string together wins for the majority of the regular season, and its own chances seemed sunk after 7-foot-2 phenom Bol Bol was missing for the year with a foot injury in January. However, the Ducks have rallied to win eight consecutive games going intothe 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's 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"just 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, collecting two successive conference player of the year honors.
The Vols might only feature the very best offense of Barnes's coaching career -- and we're talking about a man who coached Kevin Durant! A lot of the offensive potency can be traced to Williams, the team's leading scorer and rebounder, who ranks in the 97th percentile in scoring efficacy, based on data courtesy of Synergy Sports.
Williams owns an old-man game you might find at a local YMCA, a back-to-the-basket, footwork-proficient offensive attack that manifests mostly in post-ups, where he ranks in the 98th percentile in scoring efficiency and shoots an adjusted field-goal percentage of 56.1. He can find the Volunteers buckets in the waning moments of matches, 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)
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