Your Guide To The 2019 NCAA Men’s Tournament: South region
Top seed outlook: Could No. 1 Virginia exorcise the past year's demons now that the group is currently 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 is the program's first national title game.
Together with De'Andre Hunter, that was not on the court this past year through UVA's historical loss to No. 16 Maryland Baltimore County, the Cavaliers were 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 pack line shield is suffocating most offensive opportunity and successfully turning games into stone fights. But this year's team is better on the offensive end and should breeze into the Elite Eight, where it might meet Tennessee. Thanks to Grant Williams along with the wonderfully named 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 pick: No. 6 Villanova. Is it"sneaky" to pick the team that has won two of the past three national titles? Not. But this has not been the same group that coach Jay Wright advised to these championships. After losing a ton of its best players from last year's title-winning team, the Wildcats had an up-and-down season and lost five of their final eight regular-season Big East games. However they also got hot over the past week, capping off a year in which they still won
the Big East regular-season and conference-tournament names -- and had among the 20 greatest offenses in the nation according to KenPom (powered by an absurd amount of 3-pointers). Our power ratings think 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 into the Final Four for a third time in four seasons.
Do not bet : No. 4 Kansas State. Coach Bruce Weber's Wildcats nearly produced the Final Four final season, but they may find it harder this time around. K-State comes with an elite defense (it ranks fourth in the country based on Pomeroy's ratings), but its offense is prone to struggles -- 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 contrary to the Wisconsin-Oregon winner in Round 2, could limit their potential to advance deep into a second successive tournament.
Cinderella see: No. 12 Oregon. According to our model, the Ducks have the best Sweet 16 chances (24 percent) of any double-digit seed at the tournament, over double 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 missing for the year with a foot injury in January. However, the Ducks have rallied to win eight consecutive games heading into thetournament, such as a convincing victory in Saturday's Pac-12 championship. Oregon fits a similar mould as K-State -- great defense with 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 provide 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 skill." Williams, the de facto leader of Rick Barnes's Volunteers, has bullied the SEC over the past two seasons, collecting two consecutive 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 man who coached Kevin Durant! Much of the offensive potency can be traced to Williams, the team's top scorer and rebounder, who positions in the 97th percentile in scoring efficiency, according to information courtesy of Synergy Sports.
Williams possesses 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 a adjusted field-goal proportion of 56.1. He can find the Volunteers buckets from the waning minutes of matches, too, as he ranks from the 96th percentile in isolation scoring efficiency.
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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