Your Guide To The 2019 NCAA Men’s Tournament: South region
Best seed outlook: Could No. 1 Virginia exorcise last year's demons now that the group is currently at full strength? Our model thinks. The Cavaliers have a 49 percent likelihood of cracking the Final Four and a 31 percent likelihood of reaching what would be the program's first national title match.
Together with De'Andre Hunter, that was not on the court last year through UVA's historical loss to No. 16 Maryland Baltimore County, the Cavaliers were dominant on both ends -- the sole team standing in the top five in Pomeroy's adjusted offense and protection metrics. Yet more, Tony Bennett's pack line defense is suffocating most offensive chance and successfully turning games into rock fights. However, this year's team is better on the offensive end and ought to breeze into the Elite Eight, in which it could meet Tennessee. Thanks to Grant Williams and the superbly appointed Admiral Schofield, the No. 2 Volunteers are enjoying their best basketball in program history. We give them a 22 percent likelihood of reaching the Final Four.
Sneaky Final Four select: No. 6 Villanova. Can it be"sneaky" to select the team that has won just two of the previous three national titles? Maybe not. But this has not been the exact same team 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 season and dropped five of the final eight regular-season Big East games. But they also got hot over the past week, capping off a season in which they
still won the Big East regular-season and conference-tournament titles -- and had one of the 20 best offenses in the nation according to KenPom (powered through an absurd number of 3-pointers). Our power ratings believe they're the fourth-best team in the South despite being the No. 6 seed, and they have a 5% chance of earning it back into the Final Four for a third time in four seasons.
Do not wager : No. 4 Kansas State. Coach Bruce Weber's Wildcats almost produced the Final Four final season, however they may find it harder this time around. K-State has an elite defense (it ranks fourth in the country according to Pomeroy's ratings), 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 brutal draw that gives the Wildcats tough No. 13 seed UC Irvine in the first round, then places them opposite the Wisconsin-Oregon winner at Round two, could limit their potential to advance deep into another consecutive tournament.
Cinderella watch: No. 12 Oregon. In accordance with our model, the Ducks have the very best Sweet 16 odds (24 percent) of almost any double-digit seed at the championship, more than twice that of any other offender. Oregon struggled to string together wins for most of the regular season, and its own chances seemed sunk following 7-foot-2 phenom Bol Bol was missing for the season with a foot injury in January. But the Ducks have rallied to win eightstraight games heading into the tournament, including a convincing victory in Saturday's Pac-12 championship. Oregon matches a similar mold as K-State -- excellent defense using a suspect offense -- but that is telling, since the Ducks are a 12-seed and the Wildcats are a No. 4. If they meet in the Round of 32, we provide Oregon a 47 percent chance at the upset.
Player to watch: Grant Williams, Tennessee
The junior has come a long way from being"a fat boy with some skill." Williams, the de facto leader of Rick Barnes's Volunteers, has bullied the SEC over the previous two seasons, amassing two consecutive conference player of the year honors.
The Vols might just feature the best crime of Barnes's coaching career -- and we're talking about a guy who coached Kevin Durant! Much of the offensive potency could be traced to Williams, the team's top scorer and rebounder, that positions in the 97th percentile in scoring efficiency, based on data courtesy of Synergy Sports.
Williams possesses an old-man game you might find in a local YMCA, a back-to-the-basket, footwork-proficient offensive assault that manifests mostly in post-ups, where he ranks in the 98th percentile in scoring efficiency and shoots an adjusted field-goal proportion of 56.1. He can get 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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