Through 12 games in the South Region, there have only been three upsets according to seeds. Yet, the Sweet 16 looks anything but normal with a no. 15 seed joining a 1, 3, and 5 seeds. Let’s take a closer look at each team’s chances of surviving another weekend and reaching the Final Four, and if you are betting any games this weekend you have to check out BetQL where you can find over under, 1st Half, and consensus picks for every game this weekend.
The Bears are clear favorites to win the South Region, as they enter the Sweet 16 with a 24-2 record. The only caveat is that games against Hartford and Wisconsin haven’t fully tested Baylor. They were a little fortunate to avoid North Carolina in the Round of 32, as the Tar Heels could have exposed a lack of size and rebounding inside, which might be the only flaw that could take down Baylor.
Of course, having that flaw exposed isn’t necessarily a dealbreaker for the Bears. Baylor’s backcourt of Jared Butler, MaCio Teague, and Davion Mitchell is nothing short of extraordinary. All three are averaging at least 14 points per game and are incredibly unselfish when it comes to sharing the ball and sharing the credit. There might not be another backcourt in the country that can match up against that trio, especially since the Bears keep getting production from their supporting cast.
The Razorbacks won 12 of 14 games heading into the NCAA Tournament, and they’ve remained hot. In fairness, Arkansas has looked vulnerable in both games last weekend. They were somnambulant against Colgate before cranking up the defensive pressure and winning by a comfortable margin. They also had to withstand a late comeback effort from Texas Tech, surviving by two points.
However, while the Hogs expected freshman Moses Moody to carry them through the tournament, it’s actually been senior Justin Smith who has stepped up, continuing his late-season tear, averaging 19.7 points over his last seven games. While the Arkansas bench is looking a little short these days, senior Jalen Tate and freshman Davonte Davis are also coming on strong, giving the Razorbacks at least four reliable scorers who can be trusted to contribute moving forward.
Jay Wright deserves a lot more credit than he’s getting for the coaching job he’s done late in the season. Keep in mind that Villanova lost co-Big East Player of the Year Collin Gillespie late in the regular season. The Wildcats looked terrible in their next two games and were a safe bet to get upset in the First Round. But Villanova took care of Winthrop and then benefited from having to play North Texas in the Round of 32.
Sophomore Justin Moore has been the key. He’s scored 15 points in each of Villanova’s two tournament games and is helping to fill Gillespie’s shoes. The question is who will fill Moore’s shoes, as he’s averaging 12.8 points per game as a complementary player. There’s only so much Jeremiah Robinson-Earl can do to boost his scoring output. The Wildcats will need more from their role players if they hope to stay alive.
There’s been no bigger story in the NCAA Tournament than Oral Roberts. The Golden Eagles were clearly under-seeded despite only finishing fourth in the competitive Summit League. They shocked an Ohio State team that looked great in the Big Ten Tournament and then doubled-down on their Cinderella run by beating Florida despite trailing most of the game.
It’s been all about Max Abmas and Kevin Obanor. Those two averaged 24.5 and 19 points per game, respectively, during the season. Yet, both are somehow topping that production in the Big Dance against better competition than they faced in the Summit League. However, one has to wonder how much longer it can last. Teams have had a few days to breakdown Abmas and Obanor, and since the Golden Eagles don’t have other reliable scorers, Oral Roberts will only go as far as those two players take them.