Your Guide To The 2019 NCAA Men’s Tournament: South region
Best seed outlook: Could No. 1 Virginia exorcise last year's allies now that the group is at full strength? Our model believes. The Cavaliers have a 49 percent probability of cracking the Final Four and a 31 percent probability of accomplishing what would be the program's first national title game.
With De'Andre Hunter, who was not on the court last year during UVA's historic loss to No. 16 Maryland Baltimore County, the Cavaliers have been dominant on both ends -- the sole team ranking in the top five at Pomeroy's adjusted offense and protection metrics. Yet again, Tony Bennett's package line shield is suffocating most offensive chance and successfully turning games into stone fights. But this year's team is better on the offensive end and ought to breeze into the Elite Eight, where it could meet Tennessee. Thanks to Grant Williams along with the superbly appointed Admiral Schofield, the No. 2 Volunteers are playing their very best basketball in history. We provide them a 22 percent likelihood of reaching the Final Four.
Sneaky Final Four pick: No. 6 Villanova. Is it"sneaky" to pick the team that has won two of the past three national titles? Maybe not. But this has not been the exact same group that coach Jay Wright guided to these championships. After losing a ton of its best players from last year's title-winning group, the Wildcats had an up-and-down year and dropped five of their final eight regular-season Big East games. But they also got hot over the last week, capping off a season where they still won the
Big East regular-season and conference-tournament names -- and had among the 20 best offenses in the country based on KenPom (powered by an absurd number of 3-pointers). Our power ratings think that they're the fourth-best team at the South despite being the No. 6 seed, and they have a 5 percent chance of earning it back to the Final Four for a third time in four seasons.
Don't wager on: No. 4 Kansas State. Coach Bruce Weber's Wildcats nearly produced the Final Four final season, however they might find it harder this time around. K-State has an elite defense (it ranks fourth in the nation according to Pomeroy's ratings), but its crime is more prone to battles -- and could 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 brutal draw that gives the Wildcats tough No. 13 seed UC Irvine in the first round, then puts them opposite the Wisconsin-Oregon winner in Round 2, could limit their potential to advance deep into a second successive tournament.
Cinderella watch: No. 12 Oregon. In accordance with our model, the Ducks have the very best Sweet 16 chances (24 percent) of almost any double-digit seed in the championship, more than twice that of some other offender. Oregon struggled to string together wins for most of the regular season, and its odds appeared sunk after 7-foot-2 phenom Bol Bol was lost for the season with a foot injury in January. But the Ducks have rallied to win eight consecutive gamesheading into the championship, including a convincing victory in Saturday's Pac-12 championship. Oregon fits a similar mold as K-State -- excellent defense using a defendant crime -- but that is telling, since 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 very long way from being"a fat boy with some ability." Williams, the de facto leader of Rick Barnes's Volunteers, has bullied the SEC within the past two seasons, collecting two successive conference player of the year honors.
The Vols might only feature the best offense of Barnes's coaching career -- and we're talking about a guy who coached Kevin Durant! Much of that offensive potency could be tracked to Williams, the team's leading scorer and rebounder, that ranks in the 97th percentile in scoring efficacy, based on data courtesy of Synergy Sports.
Williams owns an old-man match you might find in a regional 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 efficacy and shoots an adjusted field-goal proportion of 56.1. He can find the Volunteers buckets from the waning moments of matches, also, as he ranks 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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